The Resurrection and Jibbers Crabst

The other day I was dinking around on YouTube and came across the BAH!Fest channel. It’s hilarious. I was laughing so hard I nearly gave myself an asthma attack. This one is one of my favorites. And then I saw this one:

In case you cannot or choose not to view the video, for whatever reason: Matt Inman, the author of the webcomic The Oatmeal, is satirizing theistic views in regards to science– in particular, satirizing American Christian-esque “scientific proofs of God.” Continue reading

The Unseen Cross

The Unseen Cross:
A Way of the Cross for the Mentally Ill

The Stations of the Cross, Way of the Cross, or Via Crucis, is at heart a guided meditation on the final day in the life of Jesus. While the Stations can be walked or meditated upon on one’s own, typically it is walked in a group along physical stations, with one or more readers, and the rest speaking in response. The reader calls out the Station, and the meditation in Italics. The response, a prayer, is in Bold. More information on the Stations of the Cross can be found here. Continue reading

Talking to the Sky

I have to admit, prayer is not my strong suit. As fond as I am of metaphors and despite my on-and-off love affair with mysticism, in a general sense I am a very concrete thinker, a very Doing kind of person. I don’t do meditation very well, and I have a habit of falling asleep if I try to pray before bed.

That’s exactly why I’ve been focusing on prayer for Lent. But as a friend asked me, what is the point? Why ask the Big Bearded Dude in the Sky for a better job, or a Mercedes Benz, or a winning lottery ticket, or a cure for terminal illness in place of medicine?

“Ask, seek, knock,” Jesus put succinctly in the Gospel reading at Mass the other day. But there’s more to prayer than begging for things; prayer is intended to foster inner peace, an internal silence, a posture of listening.

There’s a danger in that as well, though. Whether you end up listening to your own mind or something deeper, that’s the tricky part.

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This Lonesome Valley

Yes, I know it’s not Sunday. God laughs.

Most of the time, when Lent comes up at all for most people, it’s in context of Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday, when New Orleans goes even more bonkers than usual, specialized pastries show up on store shelves (like king cakes and that tasty Polish pastry that, deepest apologies, I won’t try to spell), and plastic beads are a fashion statement. Sometimes, it’s in context of the day after, Ash Wednesday, when Catholics and some Christians of other traditions go about with dirty foreheads. Or, it’s in that typical icebreaker question for this particular season… “So… What are you giving up for Lent?”

But what’s the point? Why the long dry spell capped on either end by a day of excess? There’s little Scriptural evidence for the season (which is why it’s less likely to be celebrated among Protestant congregations) and honestly, as I like to joke in a dark mood, it’s the depressed person’s favorite season… everyone else gets to feel the way I do for forty-some days. Really, it’s the perfect cap to a long dark night of Seasonal Affective Disorder…

But that’s not what it was always about, and not what it’s supposed to be about.

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Fill The Silence

It is not enough to be dumbstruck,
can you fill the silence?
You must have the words in that head of yours…
–Bastille, “The Silence”

No, I didn’t give up blogging for Lent.

Writer’s block is all in your head. There is nothing on God’s green earth that is physically keeping most people from writing (if there is, well, you’ve got bigger problems).

Writer’s block is a blanket excuse to cover:

  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Uncertainty
  • Lack of commitment

…And a host of other reasons.

For me, I’m my parents’ caregiver until they heal from different surgeries and injuries, on top of my current day job, on top of seeking a new job and a place outside my parents’ home. I’m tired. I have plenty to say but little energy to say it.

As excuses go, it’s decent, but it’s still an excuse.

I’ll see you on Sunday.

Rejoicing in the Midst of Desolation

I don’t look sick. Most of the time, I don’t act sick, either. I’m employed, I have a roof over my head, I have a family and friends that support me. I’ve never been hospitalized, or put in an outpatient program. Medicine works for me– I don’t have to submit to terrifying, invasive treatments just to feel like a functional human being.

It’s just that some days…

…I don’t want to get out of bed before noon.
…I don’t really feel like associating with anyone.
…I can’t really gather the mental energy to smile, to laugh.
…I can’t stand to look at myself in a mirror and avoid showering so I don’t have to touch myself.
…I forget to eat, partially because I’m too numb to feel hungry until I feel faint, and partially because eating is a social activity for the vast majority of the human population and I don’t really feel like talking with anyone.
…my goals feel– not unreachable, but irrelevant, my future happiness a waste of time, and a soft-spoken, well-worn track in my brain is playing, reminding me that I don’t matter anyway, nothing matters anyway… and simultaneously, an equally well-worn track reminds me that I’m disgusting, dirty, tainted, ugly, barely worth calling a human being, a trash person, a nothing.

It’s just that some days the only way to focus and move forward after doing something less than perfectly is to drag fingernails bitten ragged down the inside of my forearm or the back of my neck, to take a quick step somewhere private and slap myself (and yes, it can be done).

I truly have difficulty describing myself as a person worthy of being loved. I think about methods of suicide like someone might think about what they want for dinner– I’m no longer in a place where I would ever actually try to kill myself, but it’s a path I’ve walked before.

At the same time, I am a beloved child of God. The fact of my existence is proof of being loved and worthy of love. As a Christian person, as a Catholic, I believe– I have to believe– that because of my baptism in Christ there is no more reason to fear death or privation, that everything that causes me suffering will pass away in time. That one day my faulty brain chemistry will be righted, that one day the experiences that have shaped my constant feeling of being judged wanting will be a distant memory without power to harm. When paranoia strikes, I often feel like, well, if my friends and family knew what I was really like… but there is nothing I can do, say, or think that will stop my God from loving me unconditionally.

Joy is not happiness. Depression takes away my ability to feel happiness, sometimes– my literal, chemical capacity to perceive something or someone as pleasurable. But I am part of one Body, I belong– I celebrate that whenever I go to Mass. I remember that when I contemplate the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary.

Or at least, I try. I have to keep trying.

It’s just that some days, that’s all I have going for me.

Rejoice in the Lord always– I will say it again, rejoice! –Philippians 4:4 (NIV)

If Necessary Use Words

N.B.: Snow happened.

Evangelization, or spreading the word about Jesus and his teachings, is a core concept of Christian faith and religion, following a mandate from the man himself. The message is seen as good news– everyone is loved, death is not the end of the story, you are not alone. However, over the years that “good news” was perverted into a demand of “believe (my interpretation of Jesus’ teachings) or die.” I use the word “perversion” deliberately– forced conversion is perversion! Proselytizing is a method of trafficking a loving faith and selling it on the street corner to unwilling listeners.

I will never tell a person that their beliefs are invalid and they should believe what I believe, because that is a falsehood; I am not the other person, I do not know their story or how their beliefs shape their life. I would be happy to hear their story, but deciding that they “need” my religion (for their own good!) is no less a judgment than telling a person outright that they “deserve” to go to hell, and that is not right.

It’s childish. It’s cruel. It’s self-centered. And it is not Christian.
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