Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Intentional Silence


The world is noisy.

Too noisy.

But, we are called to listen to the still, small voice to find the way home to the Father.

How can we do this amidst the noise? How can we live in the world, but not deceived into thinking its noise is the beginning and the end of our existence, and the comfort she provides is all we will ever know?

Image result for google images silence in prayerThis question is the lie that Satan wants us all to believe; he's trying to convince us that comfort is the ultimate end to our existence -- distracting comforts that are of the flesh and for the entertainment of the body. 

The problem is that comfort sought entirely as its own means to an end is pointless. It ends in unhappiness and emptiness. Because as Pope Emeritus Benedict said, "...you were not made for comrfort. You were made for greatness."

But, how does one become great if one is lost in the noise and comforts of the world?

You can't. It's that simple.

You have to make time for silence and prayer. Pope Francis recently reminded the faithful of the Church that silence at Mass can't just be staying quiet in your seat. It must be intentional prayer! Just being complacently quiet is not enough, your silence must have a purpose of responding in love to God's call.

Intentional silence demands that we make time to do just that -- be silent with the purpose of worshiping God, listneing for His voice.

Shut off the noise and let the intentional silence carry you. 

Will you make that time to be intentionally silent?

I recommend it.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Five Minute Reflection: "I believe that I may understand"


 https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcS9YTEEur7IwYO3ExOe1HFVbBMbGJqTSLdtvDlfCghE1Ue8tijD3A 


Gospel Mk 3:1-6

Jesus entered the synagogue.
There was a man there who had a withered hand.
They watched Jesus closely
to see if he would cure him on the sabbath
so that they might accuse him.
He said to the man with the withered hand,
"Come up here before us."
Then he said to the Pharisees,
"Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil,
to save life rather than to destroy it?"
But they remained silent.
Looking around at them with anger
and grieved at their hardness of heart,
Jesus said to the man, "Stretch out your hand."
He stretched it out and his hand was restored.
The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel
with the Herodians against him to put him to death.

Jesus goes to the synagogue to give the example of right worship in observation of the 3rd Commandment to keep holy the Sabbath day. Jesus shows the deeper sense of the commandment to keep the day holy -- to do what is good and what is just, to serve. And, in that moment he calls a man to healing.

Imagine you are the man with the withered hand. Perhaps you are unable to work, to support your family, to handle the basic needs of everyday life because of your disability. But, there you are in the synagogue -- perhaps you are begging alms, praying, looking for mercy among those who should readily be able to afford it to you. The regulars, the people who have seen you week after week, day after day, in your infirmity use you as a pawn to trap Jesus.

Then, Jesus asks you to do something that goes against the grain. You have been faithful, have come to the synagogue although you are considered "unclean" because of your withered hand. And now, He asks you to come forward to be healed on the Sabbath. He asks you to believe in something greater than what you understand. Are you afraid to follow Jesus? Do you wonder what the Pharisees will do to you if you disobey the Jewish law? Or, does being in the presence of God bring you to belief beyond your understanding and transform you in mind and body?

You believe.

You approach.

You submit.

You are healed.

Here is the lesson for all of us today -- although most of us may not have a withered hand, we might have a complicated life, a broken spirit, an illness or mind or body. For most of us, the difficulty begins with the willingness to believe because of the fear of the unknown. We like to have things neat and tidy, understandable and without mystery. For others, they believe but with limitations; approaching God causes them to stumble because it means they must acknowledge a higher authority than their own. And still for others, they can come before God, but true submission to that power is where the obstacle is most profound. They can believe and approach, but there is still reservation in their heart. It is so hard to let go of pride, arrogance, conceit. The fear of not being one's own master is recognized clearly in the inability to submit.

Ultimately, these three difficult steps of professing belief, being in the presence of God and giving Him all that we have -- joys, sorrows, prayers and deeds, all that we do and all that we will do -- brings believera to healing. It's that example that we see in the Gospel story of the healing of the man with the withered hand. It's that example we should and must follow.

St. Anselm of Canterbury proclaimed: "I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but rather, I believe in order that I may understand." 

First believe. Then, like the man with the withered hand, approach, submit and be healed, even if you don't understand.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Five Minute Reflection -- Lamb of God, Come and See, Discipleship



Scripture:

The next day as John stood there again with two of his disciples, Jesus went past,
and John looked towards him and said, 'Look, there is the lamb of God.'
And the two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.
Jesus turned round, saw them following and said, 'What do you want?' They answered, 'Rabbi' -- which means Teacher -- 'where do you live?'
He replied, 'Come and see'; so they went and saw where he lived, and stayed with him that day. It was about the tenth hour. (John 1: 35 - 39)

Reflection:

John the Baptist is being bold. "Look," he commands, and then he describes the Christ as the "lamb of God." He doesn't say to look at this man in a casual manner but to recall in them the Scriptures. He prescribes this lamb to God - and, that meant not only a covenant relationship, but sacrifice as can be noted in Abraham telling Isaac that he trusted God to provide the lamb for the sacrifice (cf. Gen 22:8); in Moses preparing the people for the sacrifice of the lamb at passover (Exodus 12: 6-8); when Samuel offered a suckling lamb as a burnt offering to save the Israelites from the Philistines (Sam 1: 9-10); etc.

The lamb was a sacrifice to satisfy the inadequacies of the people who were waiting for the coming of the Messiah. John not only identified the Messiah, but brought to him his first disciples. And, when they inquire as to who Jesus is, he says: "Come and see". In other words, they were given the prompting through John, now Jesus calls them into discipleship.

Isn't that how it works with us, too? Often times, it is a stranger, a friend, a family member who reaches out and offers words of wisdom that prompt us to search, to think, to pray. When we do with a humble heart, we hear Jesus calling us to himself. We allow ourselves to accept the grace of discipleship and with it a lifetime of learning, sacrificing and growing in grace.

Sunday, December 24, 2017



Merry Christmas!

Christmas Crib Figures, Christmas
May the coming of the Lord, Who brings the Good News to men of goodwill, bless you and keep you in this New Year! 


From our home to yours!

Monday, September 11, 2017

A trip to Franciscan University of Steubenville -- an open letter

Dear Traditionalist looking for an authentic Catholic University:

I had never been to Franciscan University of Steubenville and had the chance to visit there with our Varsity Volleyball team this past weekend. I've known a myriad of people who have gone to the school and have loved and praised it for its many benefits. Even after hearing the stories, I've always thought: "Enthusiastic about their school. Nice. Franciscan spirituality is a little too touchy/feely for me." And, I left it at that. For this and a variety of other reasons, I didn't think that any of my kids would go to school there, so we just never made the trip to "come and see" FUS.

Note to self: Always do what Jesus says: "come and see."



There's something different about Franciscan. At first, I couldn't put my finger on it. After several days of roaming the campus, it became more clear. The students were HAPPY...like, always happy. They were diverse (and not just racially): from tattoos to guages to girls (and some guys) with hair that could braid to their ankles, high collared blouses, maxi-skirts, bow ties and boat shoes and of course, the student athletes with saran wrap and ice packs all over their bodies. There was every variety of Catholic there and they were peaceful and fun loving -- lots of laughter and enthusiasm.

Even at Mass you could sense a difference.

I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy the contemporary liturgy and music. I'm more a traditionalist when it come these things. But, again, I needed to "come and see".

I was so surprised at how beautifully blended the traditional was with the contemporary. I got smells and bells and praise and worship seamlessly intertwined. It was peaceful and uplifting at the same time. And, there was no shortage of those eager to respond or sing. The movement of the Spirit in the Church was inspiring, and I left that Mass having worshiped God in all His glory!

So, while there still may be some reasons why my kids will probably not attend FUS, I can't say any longer that it's because Franciscan spirituality is too "touchy/feely" or "contemporary". Nope, not at Steubie. They do it just right!

If you haven't visited FUS, maybe you're like me and had a preconceived notion. I encourage you to "come and see" what they have to offer. You'll be pleasantly surprised!

Blessings,

Kathy

PS...it's easier to say "The Port" (for those of you who know what I'm talking about -- the rest go check it out -- It's awesome!)

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Journey to Surrender

I wrote this little poem seven years ago. I needed to read it again...




Wrap the world around my finger,
I can handle anything.
I can do the big, the small,
It's mine to conquer.
I can do it! Yes, I can.

Wrap the world around my mind,
I'm in charge of what I have.
The rudeness, the facades,
Nothing frazzles me at all.
I can take it! Sure, I can.

Wrap the world around my heart,
That heart of stone that seems unsteady.
Now, the weight is getting heavy,
The burden presses 'til it cracks.
I can't make it! I'm too weak.

Lift the world up off my shoulders,
Change my heart from stone to flesh.
Let me trust, let me surrender,
Show me Love's humility!
You will help me! Now, I see.

(c) 2010 Kathy Vestermark

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Here's to Marriage

Thirty years ago today, we said, "I do" and accepted each other in the Sacrament of Matrimony. I've heard some use the term "wild ride" to describe the joys and sufferings of marriage and family. I don't know if I would call it a wild ride, but I certainly would call it eventful. I can't even begin to tell you the struggles we've gone through -- struggles seem the most vivid, I guess. But, the fact of the matter is that they always have some element of humor, and certainly joy, attached to them in the retelling.

For instance, Eddie (our child with significant special needs) suffered a terrible accident when he was 15 yrs. old. He was thrown from a horse and suffered a broken jaw and many contusions and lacerations as a result of the fall. It was horrible and it was the result of a freak incident involving a baby calf (it's too strange to explain). Anyway, that was a trying time for our family -- so many unknowns involved with trying to feed a boy who doesn't suck through a straw when he has a broken jaw. The story of how we managed through it all is very complicated and long, but suffice it to say that God managed to work good through the suffering:

1. Eddie needed a feeding tube. When we were getting ready for the procedure, the doctor mentioned that they might not be able to easily place the tube because of Eddie's scoliosis. "What scoliosis?" we asked. Unbeknownst to us, Eddie was developing a severe and rapidly progressing scoliosis, which without immediate attention would have been inoperable had we not acted upon it very early. This accident brought it to our attention with enough time to get appointments and a surgery scheduled -- and even then, his curvature progressed so quickly that we almost weren't able to have the surgery. It was a blessing that came from a terrible suffering.

2. But, that's not all. Eddie broke his jaw, which needed special medical attention. A wonderful oral surgeon from Georgetown Hospital took Eddie into the OR to examine the break and decide whether it would be best to wire his jaw shut or leave the break to heal on it own. It all depended on how the bone was broken and whether articulation at the joint would be diminished if left alone. Well, the doctor decided it was in Eddie's best interest to leave it alone and allow the head of the mandible to reshape naturally. After about 4 weeks, Eddie was doing something he had never done before. HE COULD CHEW! Now, how about that! Apparently, his jaw muscles were spastic and frozen until the break which relieved the joint and allowed it to move. Who knew being thrown from a galloping horse could produce such wonders?

I guess some might just call this event something of a "wild ride" (pun completely intended)! But truly, it comes down to looking beyond the joys and the sorrows to see how God is moving, working, loving and shaping your life. It's easy to get stuck in being happy only during the high moments and bitter and angry during the lows. The challenge is to be joyful during it all.

How does one achieve such a thing?

Surrender.

We were meant to give ourselves entirely to God and entirely to our spouse; to be good stewards of creation and relationship and to be fruitful and multiply. Well, we screwed that up pretty much in the beginning, but thankfully, Our Lord and Savior has redeemed us and restored our relationship with the Father through His Passion, Death and Resurrection. If we can see this good and be joyful in His sacrifice, we should be able to manage any struggle or difficulty with joy through His grace. We just have to let Him be a part of it all. That's where the joy lies, in recognizing that fact: He moves through it all.

Thirty years has passed so quickly. But it hasn't gone by without the gathering of a host of amazing stories of sacrifice, suffering, elation, awe, each of which has brought with it an abundance of love, joy and thanksgiving. Each special moment has offered one more opportunity to grow closer to God and family and to share the wonder of it all through our encounters with others.

Here's to marriage -- here's to thirty more years of wonder and joy.

Friday, April 28, 2017

To Jesus through Mary Together and Beyond

33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat In Preparation for Marian Consecration by [Gaitley, Michael E.]
Image Courtesy of Amazon.com

Yesterday in my email, I received a touching reminder from my friend, Cathy. She and I share the same date for our Consecration to Jesus through Mary -- May 31st, the Feast of the Visitation. Each year since we discovered this common thread in our friendship, she has emailed me the day before our preparation is to begin to renew our consecration.  Today, our start day, also happens to be the feast of St. Louis de Montfort.

Last year, my friend Peggy made her Consecration to Jesus through Mary for the first time. She did so on May 31st. Cathy once again emailed me to prepare. In turn, I emailed Peggy to prepare and on the Feast of the Visitation, Cathy (out of state), Peggy and I made and renewed our Consecration to Jesus through Mary together.

And so the chain continues to grow because after I received Cathy's email yesterday, I reached out to several of my friends and asked them to join in preparation to make their consecration. Two more ladies will be preparing over the next 33 days to offer themselves entirely in service to Jesus through His loving Blessed Mother.

It's a reminder of love, this email from my friend Cathy. It's a bond between us that reaches out beyond us just as the Blessed Mother would want. I am so grateful for Cathy's continued concern for my soul; because of this gentle "get ready" that she sends me, I have an opportunity to do the same and remind and invite others to prepare.

Thank you, Cathy, for being a servant to Our Lady and sharing a simple email that becomes a much larger invitation to bring souls to God.

Day One was today -- but never fear, you can catch up. Start by getting the book 33 Days to Morning Glory, or visiting this Consecration to Jesus through Mary, St. Louis de Montfort site to do the True Devotion retreat to prepare to love better, serve better, and grow in holiness by consecrating yourself to Jesus through Mary!

Once you make your total consecration, you will be amazed at how friendships grow and develop through the bond created by sharing a consecration date. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Solemnity of the Annunciation

Photo courtesy of Patheos

I was reading my morning prayers and meditation and was struck by something that I suppose I must have heard over and over before, but this morning it resonated like a newly discovered truth: There was no fear in Mary. Now, being visited by an angel has got to be astounding, can't say for sure myself. But, from what has been written in Scripture and by countless saints regarding angels, it is an awesome and ecstatic event. Yet, Mary, pure of heart, knelt before the Archangel Gabriel, and without fear inquired about how she might come to be the Theotokos.


Step inside that event for a second:

You are Mary. You are young. You are simple and pure. You have been raised by wonderful and holy parents. We don't know that they are aware or if you are aware of your difference among your peers. Maybe because of your spiritual perfection you have suffered some ridicule or been admonished for your desire to remain untainted by the world. Yet, when the angel comes and suggests that something outside of the moral standard would be required of you, you don't cower; although he does remind that you should not fear. That reminder is because the visit of an angel is a fearsome thing, not because you are afraid of what he might want. And so, you recognize without a doubt the messenger from God. There is no question in your heart other than how it should come to be, your reason is working with your faith to make sense of the situation. But, even in the midst of what others might have immediate concern about -- their own reputation -- you simply say, "Fiat". You will is so tethered to the Father, that when He announces your participation in the Incarnation, you are ready and willing. You delight in being His handmaid, you delight in doing His will. And, that delight is a pure and generous consolation to you because what is about to happen to you is riddled with uncertainty and pain. The trials that you are about to encounter in participation with the will of God would crush any other person. You have been prepared from the moment of your Immaculate Conception for this level of participation. Not forced, but prepared. Not coerced, but chosen and free to offer your consent.

Pope St. John Paul II said this in his marvelous work Redemptoris Mater about the Annunciation:
The Annunciation, therefore, is the revelation of the mystery of the Incarnation at the very beginning of its fulfillment on earth. God's salvific giving of himself and his life, in some way to all creation but directly to man, reaches one of its high points in the mystery of the Incarnation. This is indeed a high point among all the gifts of grace conferred in the history of man and of the universe: Mary is "full of grace," because it is precisely in her that the Incarnation of the Word, the hypostatic union of the Son of God with human nature, is accomplished and fulfilled. As the Council says, Mary is "the Mother of the Son of God. As a result she is also the favorite daughter of the Father and the temple of the Holy Spirit. Because of this gift of sublime grace, she far surpasses all other creatures, both in heaven and on earth" (RM 9).
Ahh, thank you, Sweet Virgin, for your YES and for understanding the message of the angel so clearly and with full faith and consent. Thank you for having not even a moment's hesitation in bringing Our Savior into the world, for giving Him life, for nurturing Him and training Him for the duty he had before Him. Thank you for being ever present to Him with your humble spouse St. Joseph, for being the model exemplar of what makes a Holy Family. Thank you for never doubting your role in the Incarnation which places you higher than all other created beings. Thank you for being Our Mother, too.

Blessed Solemnity of the Annunciation! Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Women -- Today, I'll wear blue


It is March 8th in the United States of America, and as I understand it:

I am supposed to prove my worth as a woman by going on strike

I am supposed to seek the appreciation I deserve by ignoring what I am supposed to do

I am supposed to stick it to those who neither appreciate me or value me by wearing red...

and throwing my family, my job and my world into chaos!

Now, let's just take a moment to think about this.

Who can afford in this economy to not show up for work? That's just downright irresponsible! And what about all those people that we serve, let's say school children (girls and boys) who will lose a day that could have been intellectually productive? And, healthcare professionals (nurses and doctors, administrators, etc.) who will put their patients (men and women) at risk by not showing up for their shifts. How will they justify that in the name of self-importance? Or, or the female government officials who will walk out of their floors of the Senate and Congress in just a few minutes? What about the women constituents they represent, and the men, who they will have a day without effective government?

Women, do you want to be appreciated? Do you want people -- men and women -- to appreciate what you do?

Then, DO IT WELL!

This strike is selfish and foolhardy. Your silliness only hurts people. Women do not belong to a selective organization that strikes; we are a vital part, dare I say the heart of society!

This movement makes women look like whiny, helpless, "I only have worth based on other people's opinions of me" ninnies.


I do believe that if I want to be appreciated, I better darn well deserve that appreciation through humble service.

If I want to be respected, I better live in a way that is respectable.

It is said that the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

If women only want a momentary sense of satisfaction, then squeak away. But, ultimately, this will be short lived and nothing with change unless you learn to appreciate who you are as a woman first, then act in a way that calls down upon you dignity and respect.

So, women, can we please take these word from Mulieris Dignitatem to heart?
A woman's dignity is closely connected with the love which she receives by the very reason of her femininity; it is likewise connected with the love which she gives in return. The truth about the person and about love is thus confirmed. With regard to the truth about the person, we must turn again to the Second Vatican Council: "Man, who is the only creature on earth that God willed for its own sake, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of self". (MD 30)
 You first must open your hearts to love and in return GIVE OF YOURSELF -- therein lies your dignity based on love.

Today, I will not strike, I will not wear red. Instead, I will serve with love following the example of my Blessed Mother. Oh, and by the way, I'm wearing blue.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Who Represents Me?

image courtesy of CNN

I have never watched so much news in my life!


Or, discussed the issues with so much passion before.

Or, read so many political opinions.

Or, tested so many political opinions against the teachings of my Church.

I find so much opposition to common sense and civility.

Even discussion of the upcoming Superbowl is riddled with political overtones: Brady and Trump support; security heightened at the stadium; negative fan reactions, etc.

What on earth is going on?

I thought I lived in a country where differing opinions were welcomed; maybe compromise can't be met, but the ability to voice a contrary view has always been a constitutional right protected by the 1st Amendment.

I have never had this much interest in the workings of my government before. It's like not being able to look away from a serious car accident and wondering if it could have been avoided while hoping that everyone involved will be ok. Maybe that's part of the issue for me: Do I have a sense of guilt about the current state of our Constitutional Republic?

I'll tell you what I've done over the last several years, and you decide whether I should acknowledge this sense of guilt.

1. I made a conscious decision early on with my husband that our children would not enter into the public indoctrination system (my very strong opinion should be clear here -- I don't think what happens in public schools should be called education, especially with the emphasis on agenda based information,  "teaching to the test", and the ratcheting up of questionable sexual rhetoric-- only three of myriad examples.)

2. After many years of watching Catholic Schools bow to the Federal Blue Ribbon Program for validation of their curriculum, I bailed and took my children home. While I loved that we were in an environment where God was taught, I didn't want the Federal Government to have any level of influence on the way my Catholic teaching was imparted to my children. Buh-bye.

3. I Marched for Life -- and **GASP** brought my children with me! That's right. Every year, peacefully -- no riots, no breaking windows, no setting fires, no vulgar hats/costumes. Nope. None of that. Just smiles, rosaries and a walk past the Supreme Court. A couple of years back, a counter protest was removed by the police because they were impeding the progress of the March and causing disruption...(there were 500,000+ of us who were peaceful in our civil protest, while about 8-10 of those who opposed our views caused a situation that resulted in arrests...hmmm.)

4. I taught my children History, Science, Composition, Literature, Grammar, Religion, Math, Latin, Handwriting, Art, etc. I infused our belief system throughout the curriculum and always encouraged discussion and debate. I taught my children to evaluate, to research, and to care about what was being presented to them. I taught my children to think, to critique and to trust but verify. I am the primary educator of my children in both faith and academics before any outside source (CCC 2221-2230). I taught my children to think. And, of course, my husband supported and encouraged this effort.

5. I was blessed to be able to enroll my children in a private Catholic School that supports what we valued most in education -- that ability to think in an environment that teaches both faith and personal character. Obedience is expected, but creativity is not stifled. They are not seen to be in opposition. Obedience opens the door to true freedom. This is Catholic teaching: "By deviating from the moral law man violates his own freedom, becomes imprisoned within himself, disrupts neighborly fellowship, and rebels against divine truth" (CCC 1740).

6. I have contacted State Representative, Congressmen and Senators, members of the Board of Education, Federal officials, signed petitions. I have prayed for our government, our society, our religious freedom, our Church, other religions, our family and friends, etc. I have prayed with my family outside of abortion clinics. I didn't scream my issues but wrote letters expressing my concerns clearly and cogently. I spoke with respect to people who disagreed with me in the interest of having an intelligent conversation where both sides could share their opinions with dignity. (Notice: no fires, axes, pepper spray necessary.)

7. I voted consistently for people that I believed would represent my values and convictions. I didn't get much satisfaction in that regard for more than a decade or so. (I made no threats, but made sure to up my activity in #6.)

8. I could go on and on. But, I won't because this is sounding braggadocious, which is NOT what I wish to emphasize at all. I know many people who have done these things, as well. I am not alone in my efforts.

The point of this is that I can't think of what else I could have done. So I continue to discern: Have I done everything I can to help? Am I helping now?

Do any of you find yourself thinking the same way?

It's a terrible place to be. I have made every effort to be a faithful, patriotic American, a good Catholic wife and mother; to wait out the administrations that didn't fully align with what I believed. And in a way that was representative of the rich history of our country, I accepted that leadership until such time as it would change.

And, what am I met with when the tables are turned and the outcome of this election wasn't what others wanted or even expected?

Crying!
Safe Spaces!
Coloring Books!

then...

Violence!
Vulgarity!
Threats!

...and on, and on, and on...

It's disturbing, but not surprising based on how our culture has been churning around us. The culture of death has done nothing if not gain incredible support over the last four decades.

The result: no one who voted for this change is permitted to enjoy their victory because bullies (from the anti-bullying camp) have decided that they won't allow it. They speak peace and tolerance, but exude none toward people who disagree with them. This is a sign of how we have devolved as a society. It's a statement about what our culture represents today.

And, this is not reflective of me, or anyone I know, at all. Yet here I stand, with many of my friends, even after peaceful and respectful efforts to express discontent with the way things in our country had been progressing. Where do our values fit in this culture?

Anarchists don't represent me. Hollywood doesn't represent me. Feminists don't represent me. Whiny college students don't represent me. Democrats don't represent me. Republicans don't represent me.

Who represents me?

Who represents you?

We are in a situation that is leaving innumerable people uncomfortable and various others violently disruptive.

This administration has only just begun. I will be watching for productivity, accountability, honesty and transparency. I'll be waiting for the dignity of society to be restored. I will hope that people will wake up and see that the lapse in reason that motivates them to destroy property, hurt people, and create chaos in an expression of distress for not getting their way. The mob mentality does no good and only serves to make our country appear unstable and impotent as a leader in the world. That is not who we are, is it?

I will be watching more news than ever before discussing politics and varying political opinions more than ever before, and testing all of it against the teachings of my faith. And, I will be praying for the world and for this administration.

What will you be doing?

How will you help?

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

On social media, divisiveness and a Trinified society

The realm of social media has fascinated me for a long time. At first, it was like a new toy that I wanted to play with constantly -- it was addicting and consuming. I had to learn how to use it prudently. Then, it became a medium for reconnecting and establishing new friendships. Ultimately, however, it has become a headache.

In this forum, we try to develop connections that seem real and tangible; most often they are artificial and superficial.

What do I mean by that?

Well, we truly do not know most of the people with whom we are dealing. We will most likely never meet these people who engage us in daily conversation/interactions online. And often, we limit our engagement to only people who share our perspective or make us feel good about our position on a matter, whether it be faith, politics, family, you name it.

It's a "safe zone" of sorts. An insulated opinion bubble in which we hide ourselves and find validation for our own opinions and put up a facade about ourselves that is completely unrealistic. For instance, I post pictures of my food; it looks tempting and delicious most of the time. You will never taste that food, and very possibly, it could taste like utter crap. But, everyone says I'm an amazing cook. It's validating and it strokes my ego. That made me stop and take pause a couple of years ago -- and I stopped posting so many pictures of my food. It was becoming prideful.

Back to the bigger point. Even I have come to established one of those "safe zones" where I can test opinions among a like-minded crowd before sending them out to the public realm. However, I am finding trouble stating opinions without getting shouted at, called divisive, etc. even in that space. In a place where once I felt comfortable to put out a critique and have a discussion, I am now getting shouted down. No argument or discussion. Just name calling and high anxiety posts.

This is so disturbing to me and it should be to you.

I posted at the beginning of 2017 that I wanted to branch out and return to actual engagement with human beings for my socialization. I wanted to have "real" friendships again, away from the screen and the comm boxes and the virtual relationship. I am headed there now.

It is my contention that the world of social media itself is divisive. There is no accountability for one's information being accurate, no filter for one's opinions, and no consequence for being mean-spirited or downright obnoxious in this fantasy realm of relationships.

Who needs that?

I have big opinions. I fact check and sometimes someone else comes up with alternative facts. If I am wrong, I often apologize and move forward. But, the tone has changed. I want to have civilized discussions/debate. However, the forum, even among a select group of people I have come to trust, has devolved into name calling and malicious sentiment.

We are meant to be a society that is Trinified, made in the image and likeness of God and respresentative of this truth. For the most part, I don't see this on social media anymore. And, now I am being told loudly that my attitudes and opinions displayed there are also lacking. This is frustrating in a very real way.

I will henceforth post pictures of puppies, food and things of little substance intellectually because this medium has left the realm of intellectual discovery and discourse.

Here you are social media -- my effort for today.



I'm going to get a cup of coffee and call a real friend.

God help us all figure out how to interact again for the sake of the salvation of mankind.