Tag Archives: technology

Be Real, People

There’s been a lot said lately by people more qualified than me about the current state of the Catholic Church. That its archaic. That it must change to keep people engaged. That the conventional wisdom of modern people is stronger than the doctrine of an institution that has survived thousands of years of in spite of the human brokenness of its members and leaders.

I honestly don’t have answers for any of the Churches critics, internal or external. I do know that I have made a conscious decision to follow Christ through the Catholic Church and to raise my children within it. Of all the adventures I have embarked upon in my life, this has by far been the most challenging.

When I began blogging and sharing how Christianity collides – sometimes rather harshly – with the daily life of my family, I truly believed I had found my role in the “new evangelization” the Church was talking so much about. I thought it was a great way to use the amazing technology God had given us to make the world a better place in my own little way.

I soon found that trying to navigate the intersection between adult life and Christian morality was not so easy. The more I explore, the more I realize how flawed I am as a Christian and Catholic.  I believe in decency, goodness and, as corny as it sounds, brotherhood. Even when, as I am currently, struggling to find these things within me.

I have been very blessed over the course of my life – for many years, I was one of those people who was hated by others, including my friends, because things often seemed to go my way. I got good grades from elementary through graduate school. I had wonderful family and friends. I was in good health, was motivated and innocent to a large degree of the harsh realities of living. I did not know how fortunate I was. The last ten years or so have brought me many challenges and battles for which I was morally unprepared.

A writer at heart, I thought sharing those struggles as I reconciled them with my faith would offer support and motivation to others facing personal hardships like mine.

May be it does.

But its done something else as well. Its made me more reluctant to wear my heart on my sleeve about my beliefs and experiences. We live in a world that wants conformity and homogeneity when it demands diversity. My most powerful stories of God in my life amidst my own numerous failings are ones I could never share here. Not because people might label me a religious fanatic. Heck, I get that by just going to Church on Sunday and being pro-life.

No. I can’t truly share because I must also live for the future in some sense. In many ways, I’ve already hindered myself through my writing. I’ve given the world reason to exclude me from social groups, employment opportunities, friendships, even family circles. It’s not because I’m trying to be Catholic – it’s because I share my un-perfectness in a world that demands flawless living. Funny concept for someone like me who spent my professional life “selling” businesses and ideas, and “putting the right spin” on straightforward things.

St. Paul faced great danger in his desire to spread the Gospel and God’s Word. Today, sharing our spiritual experiences in life can lead us to isolation. I often feel I have contracted Jerry McQuire syndrome, if you remember the old movie.  I know I have something to share, and my blogs do come from my heart. I just wish it was easier to know what’s right and get on with it like Jerry did in the movie. Or like Paul did in the New Testament.

I also hope I’m able to continue as Paul did in the face of adversity. Perhaps like he, I can learn to be happy with fewer friends and even fewer true companions on my journey.  Maybe I can learn when its best to keep quiet and best to share my life loudly. But more importantly, perhaps I can encourage others that the goal of life is not to be what society sees as perfect and acceptable. Perhaps we can never truly heal our own brokenness until we’re home with the Lord. But we can help one another cope through honesty and understanding.

 

Making Good Things Go Bad

When I was young, I often wondered why it was so hard for people to be “good” Catholics. After all, if you didn’t steal, didn’t kill, went to Mass, and were generally nice to people, you could pull it off, I thought. Then I grew up, and learned a little more about life.

And started blogging. 

When I truly started thinking about what goes into living a good and holy life under God’s plan, I realized that not only was it not as easy as I once thought, it was downright difficult. And when I looked around at the world, I began to see just how complicated we’ve made it for ourselves. 

In a way, our ability to make sin even more complicated than it already is reminds of something all mothers say at one time or another, when in their efforts to make a warm, clean and welcoming home, children and tired husbands throw a money wrench into things. You know, someone spills grape juice on the new sofa she’s wanted for years, etc. “This,” she laments, “is why we can’t have nice things!”

It seems, our humanity and sinful habits, can ruin what are honest intentions to make life better or easier.

For instance, take insurance, something we all hate dealing with. We hate the complicated nature of it. We hate the cost. We hate that we need it. And while I would never defend this industry, which I find dishonest in its own right, insurance consumers themselves, in some ways, have created the very exploitive practices insurers lean on.

Car insurance is mandated in most of these United States. In theory, the existence of insurance should make life easier for us when we have a problem, and should keep us from having to purchase new cars when someone else has a bad driving day. We drive recklessly enough and file enough claims that insurers rarely make much of a profit on car insurance. 

However, many people see “opportunity” here to get over on the man. They lie on claims, collude with friends in the auto body, legal and law enforcement fields, and defraud insurers for countless dollars every year. They’ll tell you it’s no big deal, lead you to believe they’re smarter than you while they’re spending money paid out by someone else’s insurance company. But it all comes down to old fashioned lying and stealing. Someone out there just got a major rate increase, and over time insurance becomes more expensive for everyone. Sounds sinful to me. Yet our friends, family, neighbors – many be even we ourselves – regularly engage in such activity.

How about technology? One of the biggest new stresses we all face is the dreaded “password.” We have one for almost everything we do online from Facebook to banking. We’re always forgetting them, resetting them, emailing for new ones, etc. They must have one capital letter, one number, be so many characters long, and require 18 different emails and an act of Congress to change. Think of how much time we’ve spent agonizing  over passwords since we’ve developed all of this technology meant to make our lives easier, more efficient and give us more time to do better things.

Why do we have “passwords?” Because of all the dishonest, overeducate techies out there who think it’s fun to invade our privacy, outthink us, and throw everyday people simply trying to trudge through daily life into complete chaos. Everyday, there’s a new hack somewhere. At our banks, hospitals, universities, governments – anywhere thieves can get information to steal identities. Then there are those who prey on our children as they use one of the most amazing learning tools we’ve ever invented. 

That great technology we’ve invented, by the grace of the intelligence God has given us, has brought us more stress, more government regulation, more crime and more cunning criminals than anyone could have imagined.

Then there are lifesaving pharmaceuticals held just out of reach to those who truly need them by astronomical profit margins. Or government programs meant to help the neediest, looted by able-bodied people who think only of themselves. 

Now, I believe in capitalism, honest business and making a good living. What I don’t believe in are 400 percent profit margins, collecting taxpayer money when you aren’t paying your own share, and exploiting technology used by the entire world for advancement to rape, cheat and steal.

How often do we use good things like insurance, technology, even our own intelligence to hurt others for our own gain? Upon examining my conscience more thoroughly, I was surprised to find how often such “opportunities” come my way, and how I had slipped in my response on occasion. It’s yet another flaw I’m working on with God.

Being a good Catholic can be quite more complicated than it may seem in our modern world. Just because our modern ways of stealing, exploiting and sinning aren’t spelled out in the Ten Commandments per se doesn’t mean they don’t affect our relationship with God and others.