Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Where can we hear about the Extraordinary Synod?

Everyone is talking about it (or so it seems).  The Extraordinary Synod, which begins this weekend, is a topic making its rounds in newspapers, magazines, online commentaries, blogs and casual conversations.  To hear most people tell it, we'll be looking at a radically different Church in a couple of weeks, come the Synod's end.  For some, this is welcome news.  For others, Armageddon has arrived.

So with all of the controversies, conflict and confusion, where can we learn about what is going on in Rome?  There isn't going to be a CSPAN channel dedicated to bringing us the proceedings live from the Vatican.  We won't be permitted to listen live via iTunes.  Where can we hear something of the Synod that isn't a manipulation of the truth?  How will we know what is happening?

That's the question that's been on my mind of late, and one that was answered (at least in part) this afternoon.  I came across Archbishop Joseph Kurt's latest blog post, which mentioned his arrival in Rome and his thoughts on the upcoming Extraordinary Synod.

Here, in part, is what he said:

Of course this is the week of preparation for the Synod on the Family. The formal beginning of the Synod is on Sunday, with Mass celebrated by Pope Francis. I have come to Rome with great support and insights from many and with the rich tradition of Church teaching. I have three intentions, which I brought to the altar this morning:
- To appreciate the beauty of marriage, family, and the vision of sexuality given by Sacred Scripture and Church teaching.
- To restore the confidence of the faithful in their ability to form and sustain Christian families.
- To respond to the great need to walk with – to accompany as Pope Francis has said so often – those families who struggle and whose wounds need healing.

(See more at: http://www.archlou.org/2014/09/30/synod-blog-september-30-2014/#sthash.RgrG2lVr.dpuf

That clarity and simplicity assured me that Archbishop Kurtz's daily blogging from Rome about the Synod will be the place to turn for information.  Sure, it might not detail what Cardinal Kasper just said or which position Pope Francis seems to be advocating.  There won't be play-by-plays available.  But Archbishop Kurtz, as a passionate defender and promoter of the family will bring his love of the family into his reflections about what is occurring, and perhaps we will catch a glimpse of how the family is served at the Extraordinary Synod.  

To read Archbishop Kurtz's blog reports about the Extraordinary Synod, click here.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Our preoccupation with "sharing" isn't making us selfless

I have long admired Wendy Shalit's writing style and insights into our cultural decline. Her "Return to Modesty" was just re-released for its 15th anniversary. Consequently, her name has resurfaced again in the online writing world, after a few year hiatus.

In any event, I just came across her thoughts in TIME about selfies, social media and our seeming inability to enjoy moments without hurrying to "capture" them for the rest of the world. It's an excellent piece.
The larger issue here is our addiction to externalizing our private experiences to the point where we have nearly lost the ability to simply enjoy moments privately (or be allowed to mourn privately).

Did you hear about the woman who felt compelled to update her Facebook status while driving on a North Carolina highway? “The happy song makes me HAPPY,” she typed, a second before her car crashed into a truck. A Polish couple recently wanted to take some selfies near a cliff, and then—putting a bit of a damper on things—they actually fell off the cliff. It’s easy to distance ourselves from these tragedies and think, That’s crazy! That would never happen to me.

And yet social media is filled with videos of parents scaring their toddlers or filming their tearful reactions when told that Mommy ate all their Halloween candy. I seem to be nearly the only person who doesn’t find these videos funny, nor do I think that the appropriate reaction to a child’s tantrum is to film it and commiserate on Facebook about how hilarious it was. To me, these parents have fallen off a different cliff, albeit an imperceptible one; they’re breaking a private trust in order to feed the public’s appetite.

I can’t prove it, but I believe that the collapse of the public-private distinction has dialed down our capacity for empathy. Real empathy requires a private, intimate space, and, of course, a time when you’re not on Facebook.

Read the rest here.

Interestingly, after reading the op-ed, I found an article about high school students in Nebraska who say they want to be asked out to homecoming in person, not via text. It's not entirely the same thing as Wendy Shalit is expressing, but it is certainly related. A text doesn't create the same memory as a thoughtful or face-to-face encounter.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A very real -- and "pro-choice" -- look at abortion

I don't know that I have the words just yet to process this piece from New York Magazine written by an "abortion doula."  It is the most realistic, riveting, devastating description of abortion I have ever read ... and it is written by a woman who sits in the procedure room every week.  

She says she can't judge and wants to help the women, but she hauntingly describes what it is like to look at the blood and the pieces and to hear the screams of mothers in the midst of an abortion.  

It's graphic and a very difficult read, but one that exposes the reality of abortion far more compellingly than any pro-life literature really can.  You can find it here.