Should I think you have nothing to say, it is because I am self-centered. Or maybe it is because you have said things in the past which do not make sense. Or maybe it is because you say things again, which I have already heard. It is perhaps because what you say is frivolous, and I tread on higher ground.
It would all be very interesting, but perhaps I find you unattractive. I am not only self-centered. I am superficial too. As a writer it is words which should excite and not how or who. But I will say that should I choose (and off the record), I choose a beautiful woman’s casual charade to cold comfort of philosophers. I am not less a MAN for that. But I am less a man, sure. Because I’m just a man, sadly.
It is sadly indeed, for in every communication their is a life behind the words. A life to empathize with, for it is a life you could have led. To not reflect in those moments, on what your life could have been, and allow yourself to be struck with boredom – that is self-centeredness – and it is worth fighting that.
And still it is so much easier when you are beautiful to look at.
The mentally ill need care, not suspicion. Yet a visit with your therapist can occasionally feel like an interrogation as they try to cover their backs from the unknown. And it’s not like their performance goes undetected. The mentally ill are simultaneously some of the smartest people in the world; though they may be treated as minds of inconsequential validity, rest assured that they are observant and capable of unwanted inference. How to treat such talent while protecting society – that is a very difficult balance.
The foremost indicator of future violence is past violence, but all too often people are buried under suspicion without any past violence at all. Should there be a need to put someone under suspicion for their condition, it must be the result of an evaluation done without suspicion, since suspicion on the part of the doctor leads to fear on the part of the patient, which leads to suspicion on the part of the system. Once there is suspicion on the part of the system, it is often too late for a patient to lead a normal life, for they will face an uphill battle for most of their lives.
It is a fact that mass shootings put more power in the hands of psychiatrists, and these psychiatrists are not blind to the scrutiny they will face if – albeit a remote possibility – a terrorist slips their grasp. But we should not ignore the fact that mass shootings make up a relatively insignificant portion of the death rate, despite their sensationalism, and a far greater number of lives are lost to scrutiny than death by bullet – though their stories remain untold.
My spiritual encounter with Pope Francis was circumstantial. I had decided to fly to DC because Frontier had 58$ tickets from Chicago and I managed to find an airbnb which was not gouging me. My accommodations turned out quite nice and I had a rather fine time on H street the night before, carousing with a fellow airbnb’er. The result was that I awoke far too late to get in line at 4am with the rest of the Papal viewers who sought out prime real estate for the brief appearance around the White House (the ellipse parade). In fact, I simply woke up and walked an hour and a half to arrive at a gate where people had congregated and within 3 minutes, The Pope showed up, and I saw him – albeit a block away – in all his celebrity excitement. My timing made me wonder if perhaps everything did happen for a reason – and this happy condition lasted well into the afternoon.
It was 2:45pm when I decided maybe I should really go to the Papal Mass at the Basilica after all. I had no tickets, but I hopped a cab and arrived an hour before mass was to start. Things looked promising as there was a designated gate at which all the fellow derelicts without tickets were supposed to grovel to get in. I waited there as people behind me of finer stock were picked from the crowd by secret service and escorted to the ticketing area. The rest of us humbly petitioned for entry well past the start of mass, when the TSA looking folks at the gate communicated to us that under secret service orders, we were not to be allowed into the mass. For all my impetus to call the lowly masses to arms and rebel against The Man in the name of a Pope of The People, I quietly resigned and continued my tour of H street bars, because everything did happen for a reason… I’m Catholic afterall, and not Baptist.
By this is typically meant the process by which a woman is evaluated based on their appearance, but to say that this is the objectification of women is to ignore the fact that if one is evaluated based on metrics of almost any sort, then they have been ‘objectified’ and this socially acceptable form of objectification even has a prestigious business name: Human Capital Management.
The real problems with objectification are not with evaluating people based on their appearance, which is a set of characteristics subject to objectification as well as any other. The real problem is treating people as capital, and that is just business. How to reconcile the need to objectify people while treating them as loving, feeling, breathing individuals, generally – that is our problem – and it applies to Vegas strippers as well as CEOs.
It used to be the men who treated people as capital in business, and women were a balance who treated people as loving, feeling individuals at home. Now it is an afront to women if they are not treated as human capital like everyone else, and you are ‘setting women back’ if you are a woman who does not treat people as capital in turn. Ahh progress.
This is not to say that women have no place in business, but it is to say that society has lost some of that balance, and men need to begin to treat people more as loving, feeling individuals to help regain it – Women, we need your help, so don’t lose your touch.
It was not so long ago that students complained of bloody knuckles from the ruler. This type of treatment was more the norm than the exception in eliciting Catholic guilt, and it did not stop and end at nuns trying to teach mathematics. The heavy hand extended rather clearly – among the initiated – to the pulpit and even prayer, in advance of the rebirth.
We are not fully reborn of course, but there is something to be said for Pope Francis’ light guiding touch that has made the wait and persistence of faith worth it. No longer do I feel quite so guilty for enjoying myself in ways visceral but victimless, should I also pay respect to what is truly good. No longer do I feel the need to hide from authority because they are bound to only see things in the light of what could go wrong as opposed to what could go right. A God merciful to the good of heart, despite a love of life – I have been waiting for it all my life and it is here.
Tomorrow it does not matter if I see the Pope, though I happen to be in D. C. I have already seen the good done in the faces of those estranged from faith and The Church. We have a Pope respectful of humanity and the human condition, in the face of historical demands made in the name of God, though not always true to His spirit. It is a good time to be a Catholic, and a good time for the world to rethink faith.
In this follow up to Should The Pope offer St. Maria’s of Alhambra to Islam, I want to consider what the Catholic church has to gain by offering St. Maria’s as an offering to interfaith worship.
The short answer is that The Church has peace to gain, with a start toward reconciliation among faiths, which need to come together rather than grow further apart. The long answer is that it is only through an unsolicited offer by The Catholic Church, in advance of pressure from outside events, that The Church can authentically make a gesture that other faiths can trust as an offering to peace. The act needs to take place prior to strife, for it to be clear that The Church’s hand was not forced in the matter – which it is not, but could seem so, should such an offering occur after an event of great distress. This means that it is the right moment for such an offering.
Open dialog between faiths is much needed, so that theoretical reconciliations can be reached, which promise to support a broader day to day acceptance of other faiths living together in the same community. There is no better way to reach a state in which reconciliation can be achieved than through a community of shared worship. Seeing and hearing and feeling those in prayer and worship inevitably makes the practice and people of other faith less alien, more akin to yourself and your own needs and fulfillment. And the setting at Alhambra is the most perfect given the history of intolerance in Spain and the history of Alhambra, not to mention its beauty.
On a plateau over Granada, Spain stands Alhambra. It is a grand palace and former settlement of the Moors. It is today well preserved in its full history, but its history is still alive.
Inside the grounds of Alhambra is a church. It is a nice church, in the renaissance style, but it’s history is not so nice. Alhambra was a Moorish palace and settlement, and where the church of Santa Maria de la Encarnacion stands once stood a mosque. That mosque was torn down and in its place was put the church. It was common practice throughout Andalusia, Spain to convert old mosques to cathedrals. The major cathedrals of Andalusia were once mosques. But tearing down this mosque and building in its place a church, on the grounds of Moorish Alhambra, was a clear show of power by Catholic rule, and no mere convenience.
In The Alhambra Trinity I address – in literary and indirect form – some reasons for turning St. Maria’s of Alhambra into an offering of peace. What I do not address directly – though it is an underlying current – is its historical significance as a symbol of religious struggle and the domination by Catholicism in Spain. As such it holds a unique place for potential as a symbol of peace as Spain enters an age of religious diversity and tolerance, but I do not believe the proper action is to convert St. Maria’s to a mosque. It should instead be made symbol of interfaith peace and not a symbol of triumph by one side over another – diplomatic or otherwise. A place where all people of faith are welcome, including those of the Jewish faith, who have a long history in the region of Granada, and also worked on Alhambra.
To that end I, a Catholic, suggest it be converted to a place where all faiths can practice together, though in a unique way. I realize that the suggestion of re-architecting a renaissance style church in Europe may fall on deaf ears. And some may look at this approach as opening a can of worms, but I look at it as the most supreme offering of peace that the Church can make. And peace should be the goal of all faith, Catholic, Islamic, Jewish or otherwise.
The Office of the President is the face of the nation and ours is a nation with a big footprint. That footprint extends well into other nations as we willfully take on the task of policing the world from at least the worst of its ills. That life abroad is occasionally neglected and occasionally abused by our Presidents, but it really can be neither if we want America at its best.
While the Office of the President is consistently fighting domestic political battles which make them more narrow-minded than we can afford our administrations to be, America is busy being America abroad, trying to defend what is right, while fighting the concurrent battle over the visage of America as domineering where it doesn’t belong.
It is the latter where our president can be decidedly understanding or standoffish and in the past they have been both, but in the interconnected world which America built, we cannot afford the latter when it is not overwhelmingly due. Our current president has done well with diplomacy, despite occasional botched communications, and we can’t afford anything less from our future presidents.
The presidents of the near future – born and raised before the rise of the internet – threaten to misunderstand a younger generation who are to make up America and much of the first-world, in short order. And it is a persistent and perpetrated misunderstanding, which is America’s greatest foe.
If you can’t always keep a straight face during mass, if you tend to laugh at political hearings because they are great theater, if you tend to think that Saturday Night Live’s Evening Update is better news than the news, then it is a sign that you suffer from irreverence. It is a condition known to afflict millions of people who nonetheless manage to survive, provided they conform to protocol.
The protocol for irreverence is that you can’t be serious. If you are not serious, you can be as irreverent as you like, as long as you don’t divulge too much. If you insist on being serious and you are nonetheless irreverent, you will be taken as a threat to the peace. If you are serious and reverent, you will be taken as a prospective political candidate or moral leader – in short a threat to the power of those with power. But if you are just not serious then you can be reverent or irreverent all you like – in short, you can live your life.
The trouble, you see, is not that I can never be reverent. It is that I can’t always be reverent. There are always those too astute observations of the absurd which strike my mind and no force of will can restrain me from comment because they are too funny. They are just funny and it’s not my fault. But they are enough for people to look at me askew…
So I have decided to relegate my seriousness to refined literary and unspontaneous text which need not absorb my life. In short, I have decided to live my life. It is by all accounts an absurd life and no one can take that away – but it is freedom to let that absurdity live in comedy and not insist on fighting the absurd with sincerity, because you will lose, seriously.