May. 7 at 8:59am
Last summer I became engrossed in the TV show Hoarders. I'd watch it with a mixture of horrified fascination and immense pity. What an unbelievable condition! How sad and bizarre!
This morning it occurred to me to think that hoarders have a gift to offer. They give outward display of an inward condition of the soul afflicting maybe most of us.
Hoarders' lives are gradually overwhelmed by their things. When a room becomes uninhabitable because it's filled with trash, they stop using it. Eventually their living space is reduced to narrow pathways between piles of junk.
Isn't this just the state so many of our souls are in? Don't we let junk pile up? — sins, bad memories, wounds, lies, illusions, uglinesses — and instead of clearing it out, we just close the door on that part of ourselves and retreat to another, less cluttered part? We don't let friends into the rest of our house. Eventually, if it gets really bad, we don't invite friends over at all. We only encounter others outside our home. And those relationships remain superficial and unreal.
I think it's happening in epidemic proportions in our society.
No, just about everyone knows we need relationships. I will be thinking about how to express what I'm trying to say more clearly as I take care of some urgent things around here, because I want to do this discussion more justice than I can right now. Bis bald!
Aug. 29 at 10:54am | See in context
I highly recommend Thomas Dubay's Authenticity as further reading for this post.
Aug. 29 at 10:40am | See in context
Do you think anyone really believes that?
Maybe I live in a bubble. But I know lots of people who think being Catholic (for instance) means "you have to stay in relationships" and that all concern for authenticity is a modernist cover for egocentrism, that annulments are nothing but ephemisms for divorce, and that if you're a mother it means that you "role" is to be a fulltime housewife, and so on and so forth.
I haven't met anyone who thinks we don't need relationships.
I know they're out there, but I don't come across them.
Aug. 29 at 10:30am | See in context
Kate, yes, I was always struck by Karol Wojtyla's distinction between humanl acts and "acts of man": acts that emerge from your free center, and things that you do but that are just physiological or instinctive or reactive--acts that are "automatic" in some way, and don't fully involve your freedom.
The feminist ideas that Maggie Gallagher was writing against did have a large grain of truth. As we've been talking about here lately from many angles, for a long time, there definitely are people and relationships and cultures and mentalities that you do have to separate yourself from to find out who you even are, and to initiate action that really comes from your own free center.
Where many people go wrong, it seems, is in seeing the core of each person as totally unrelated to relations with other subjects. It's as if they think: if it's a relationship, it's not a reality, but just something that's "in your head" or something that belongs to the realm of feelings, understood in the most superficial and reductive sense.
Aug. 29 at 10:19am | See in context
I like what you say here, Kate.
As someone who has had a lot to learn about personal authenticity, I have more sympathy (I think) than a lot of conservative Catholics—certainly more than I used to have myself—for the contemporary ways of talking about about the self.
I mean, I understand now in ways I didn't used to, for instance, that "me time" is something I need. I used to scorn the idea as selfish. "All of me and my time belongs to God and my husband and children." I didn't understand that this was a neglect of my own humanity.
I had to learn not to be driven by my "role" as wife and mother, and so on. I hadn't realized how alienated from myself I was, and how artificial many of my ideas of what I ought to do and be were.
I had to learn to "taken possession of the land" that is my self—take responsibility for my thoughts, feelings, acts, limits, etc.
Part of this entailed a discovery that some of my relationships weren't real.
I'm still learning.
Aug. 29 at 9:43am | See in context
Sometimes I think that the "who you are" in "become who you are" refers to our acting and being--which are inalienable, really. So it's not really that we can ever be not ourselves, but we are less than fully ourselves when we abdicate responsibility for our actions, when we re-act rather than act, when we choose by failing to choose.
Which mean, I guess, that I am as fully myself in relationship as I am in a role or function, so long as I am fully present to the choices and persons around me, and fully choose to act out of my own gifts, abilities, and call to virtue. If I use a social construct, relationship, function, or even a 'vocation' as a prop, a layer of insulation against the terrible call to own my own actions and respond rightly to the goods around me, then they can be obstacles to my full development as "who I am."
I remember when Jen Fulwiler wrote about realizing that the best 'me time' is the kind that reinvigorates--which tends to be active: creation, exercise, service, self-development. These are responses to the goods in ourselves, the world, and others.
Aug. 28 at 1:40pm | See in context
Yikes! I would have done the same.
Aug. 28 at 11:48am | See in context
In the case of the apostolate I mentioned that I used to support financially, I twice sent emails expressing my concern. I got no answer. Then I noticed on facebook that many others shared my concern. The public outcry became strong enough that the head of the organization wrote about it. He didn't just defend his organization, he touted the Christian heroism of its members. He didn't just disagree with the critics, he chastized them for their lack of charity.
That's when I determined to disengage, which is to say (in this case), stop sending them money.
Aug. 28 at 8:07am | See in context
Thanks for your answer Katie. I can agree wholeheartedly. I would only hope that most folks wouldn't be too hasty in disengaging completely from something/someone without first letting the organization (or person) know what has happened and why. I suppose a healthy dose of discernment and prayer is also needed when things go awry. Thanks again!
Aug. 27 at 11:03pm | See in context
Internally, the leadership would have conducted an investigation, determined the facts, determined who was responsible for what, and called those employees on the carpet. He would have told them that their work was substandard and will have to improve.
That's the opposite of throwing people under the bus.
No reality-based person expects any organization or institution to be perfect.
But we can and do expect them to be responsible. Organizations (like individuals) that hide or deny or downplay their wrongs, or deflect all criticism back on to the moral character of the one making it—as if in order to fulfill their mission they have to have a perfect image—are dysfunctional.
My advice is: Keep away.
Aug. 27 at 9:28pm | See in context
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