Monday, October 11, 2010

I Want the World to Know, Got to Let it Show

Oh, c’mon, admit it: you love that today is National Coming Out Day. I discovered this fact yesterday, when I was at an event at my sister’s university and there were rainbow signs with silhouettes of people dancing on it tacked up all over.

Today is also Columbus Day. According to sources, however, it is way too un-PC to be celebrated any more. A lady in my dad's office said that when she first came to America (from the Philippines), it was widely celebrated. Now if you celebrate Columbus Day, you are obviously disrespectful of the feelings of Native Americans. My former grade school obviously did not get the message, though, because my two youngest siblings are off and so are at the office today, reading and shredding dead files.

Today in the Huffington Post, there was a lovely article entitled “Homophobia in the Church: What Catholics Are Doing About It, and What Still Needs to Be Done.” Homophobia is a fear or dislike of homosexuals. As a Catholic, I adamantly disagree with this inaccurate labeling of the Church. She is certainly not homophobic. The Church teaches her members to have an Augustinian attitude: love the sinner, not the sin. I have gay friends and they know where I stand, as I do them. My relationship with them has given me more compassion for the cross they have to bear in this life, but it has not changed my belief or deterred me from following the Church's teaching, which includes treating them with the utmost respect.*

In Rome Sweet Home, Kimberly and Scott Hahn (converts to Catholicism from PC USA) say that what most people hate about the Catholic Church are actually misconceptions about Catholicism. In my experience, that statement could not be more true, and this article was flaming proof of that. The author begins the article by setting the scene: a Catholic baptism. She says, “I didn't have to explain that it was no ordinary baptism we were witnessing. [My daughter] knew it was extraordinary, because I had taught her.

In the next few lines, she introduces the protagonists as “two gay dads asking a church governed by bullies to bless their child.

And then: “My daughter later asked how it was that gay people could have their children baptized in Catholic churches but not be married in them. Good question. I broke it down for her. I told her a far greater percentage of Catholics support gay marriage than support the Vatican. I characterized the failure of my church to offer gay Catholics marriage in the church as just that -- "a failure." And a sin.”

I’m not going to pretend the arguments presented in this article do not bother me. A sin**, really? Because the Church doesn’t ask its members for their opinion to determine doctrine? Because the Church abides by a higher law? Actually follows the teachings of the Bible? Furthermore, I would like to know what concrete data could have pointed her to say that “Catholics of all stripes agree that many of our finest priests are gay.”

Don't worry: I am not going to break down this article and refute every twist and lie this writer insists upon sharing with her audience. I will admit I almost enjoy reading self-proclaimed Catholics bashing the Church in the media. Not because I want it to happen, but more because it strengthens my resolution that a failure to catechize kids leads to a depreciation of the value of truth. These type of self-deprecating articles are logically weak because they rely on their own strength, not Church teaching. I recently read a speech one of the creators of Glee gave at the Blah-Blah American Catholic Media Blah Awards. He was raised Catholic but says the Catholic Church is not a set of beliefs but a culture, much like Judaism.

I kid you not. He said this about a church defined by its dogmatism. I imagine many orthodox Jews would be rightly offended to have their faith categorized only as a culture. 

So, as a way of celebrating National Coming Out Day, today's post is me coming out against the intolerance Christianity faces against "the tolerant" who cannot imagine a world where people would willingly follow a power higher than their own opinion and impulses. People are more than their sexuality, just like they are more than the color of their skin, more than their culture, more than their bank account, more than their education and more than their very being. People are made for more than this world, and that is what the Church actually teaches.

"For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God. He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began, but now made manifest through the appearance of our savior Christ Jesus, who destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Timothy 1:7-10).

On a lighter note, I attended my cousin's housewarming party on Saturday and felt like I was missing a very big piece of the puzzle. I hardly knew any of the people there and my family was greeting everyone like old friends. When I asked my sister how she knew everyone, she replied "the Christmas party."

THE Christmas Party is the proper terminology. My aunt and uncle have thrown a huge Christmas party every year for [at least] the past 10 years. A couple years ago, when I was at college, they began inviting all the kids too since my aunt was so sick. Of course, as luck would have it, the party always happened during my winter exams. Thus, I have never attended, only heard the stories.

Mere moments after my sister explained this to me, a woman came up to us and enthusiastically greeted Kato before turning to me and saying, "And you must be the fictitious Julie!"

In the flesh, madam.

"Oh, I've heard so many stories about you," she bubbled to me, "but have never met you- I was beginning to doubt your existence!"

After confirming my identity once again, along with my sister's blessing, she says to me, "Isn't it wonderful having such a fantastic writer in the family?" She touches my sister's arm and smiles. "I mean, you have a real writer in the family!"

Now, I can be really bad at hiding what I am thinking/ feeling around my family members. Insert me snorting a little bit as an attempt not to laugh. Kato is a decent writer, but I would not call her a real writer. I admit: I'm a writing snob. Sue me. I've worked hard to be a "real" writer.

"No, really!" She said, a bit more forcefully. "Your sister is very talented!"

"I agree," I said. "I enjoy reading her stories immensely. There's a few writers in the family, actually. Muffy and Bobby like to write too."

"Yes, but she's the real writer!"

I gave her a smile and tried to hide the small snort of amusement.

My sister knew why I was laughing and attempted to explain: "Julie's actually a published writer, you know," she tells the lady.

"Oh, what have you written?"

"I'm actually a journalist--"


"Well, I recently--"

"What do you write?"

"She writes about politics," says my sister. Not exactly, I think, but let it go and smile at the lady, who smiles back, asks no more questions and goes back to praising Kato.

Oh well. Everyone's a critic!

Yesterday, I am proud to say, I pulled off throwing my sister a surprise birthday party, even though she refused to leave the house. She was supposed to take Heidi to the dog park but said she had to clean her room and read economics instead. Thus began two hours of us attempting to be as nonchalant as possible as we cleaned and decorated, made large quantities of food (which actually isn't atypical, in defense of her obliviousness), had relatives drop by and hid her friends in the basement. It was a lot of improvise, but it was fun and we actually surprised her, so I am quite pleased.

I am still cleaning and organizing my room (read: making a really big mess), but it's been therapeutic to throw garbage bags full of old papers and stale memories away, re-reading blue book exams, research papers, post-it notes and letters from friends. I've also been reading my brother's copy of The Adventures of Frog and Toad, which is delightful.

Have a happy Monday!

Defining my terms:

*The Catechism says in paragraphs 2358-2359, "The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition. Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection." 

**A sin, according to the Catechism, is an offense against God (part 1850). Paragraph1849 says, "Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. It has been defined as "an utterance, a deed, or a desire contrary to the eternal law.""


  1. Westminster Catechism refers to sin as "Any want of conformity to or transgression of the Law of God." This is the definition I memorized when I was about 9 and has stuck with me and really impressed me with how concise and true it is. Would you agree? Yet another sushi OR beer question I am sure for a future date. I loved your story about meeting this woman at the party. Isn't it amazing how we all have those stories in our family where you just kind of blankly respond and then just want to blab all of your accomplishments to everyone in the room. It's a very awkward position because we want to be humble about ourselves, and yet at the same time we feel like when we have worked hard for something we deserve the credit for it as well. Indeed you are a very fine writer Julie, much better than I, and you have worked very hard to become so. I am proud of your accomplishments and I hope that situations like this don't come up often and that your work will be able to speak for itself. Loved reading, as always!

  2. I would not disagree with it, per se; but did you mean your preposition to be "of" and not "against" the Law of God? I'll go for beer, you can have the sushi.

    I didn't want to blab about my accomplishments, honestly. I just find it amusing that she has heard all these stories about me but never once heard that I was editor of the independent paper at my college or that I write too. But thanks, Ben!