Being a Martha

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One of the joys (and aggravations) of blogging are the sudden revelations about myself that occasionally stem from where I find myself in the blog-world at any given time.

Take today's revelation--following a series of links I wound up on a site that featured some articles by Sister Joan Chittister. I have long been curious and a little cautious about Sister Joan. I know she espouses some views that I do not hold and I don't much care for the company she sometimes keeps. Nevertheless, everyone is entitled to be heard for who they are not who they know.

The articles were not particularly well-considered examinations of trends Sister Joan sees in American Politics. Like me, Sister Joan does not seem to be a well-qualified observer or commenter on things social and political and some of this muddle comes through in her articles. I was not particularly impressed. But more than that I was frustrated. I was frustrated by the reasoning and by the stridency of such things as a plea for tolerance that seemed, itself intolerant.

But the point of this is not to critique Sister Joan. It is to ask why do I go about subjecting myself to these things? Why do I go to places that I know will frustrate me? Why do I have this compulsion to read things that will knock me out of equilibrium. (You'd think that after I read one of Sister Joan's articles I would simply have ignored the others or the Google links and interviews, etc.)

To bring up other examples. Once I can tell from the header of a post that a particular entry at any given place is about The War that Shall Not Be Named, why do I continue on to read the piece? I know it is likely only to upset me even if it is strictly in accord with my own viewpoint. Why--because for whatever reason, I am upset by this particular topic, I have unduly close ties and interest in it. So why don't I leave it alone?

Well, appropriately enough for this week, I've concluded that the problem is that I am a real Martha. I'm not really big on service, but I'm a real pro when it comes to anxiety and worry. If I am not presently anxious, I seem to actively seek out things to be anxious about. There can be any number of reasons for this, but prime among them is that I still haven't really resolved to partake of the "one thing necessary." I don't really want to learn from Jesus, not down at the core. I want to busy myself with all sorts of things, notions, ideas, objects, events, people, and worldly things. I don't really want to listen and let Jesus lead because it would require of me a certain tractability and surrender. I'm not yet ready to surrender. However, I really want to be ready, but it's very difficult to abandon the defenses and clear the battlements.

I am Martha. I spend too much time meddling in all sorts of things that I haven't any business doing and then I go and complain because others aren't helping me. I go to Sister Joan for the truth. Now is that fair either to me or to Sister Joan. Who proclaimed her the embodiment of truth--she's simply a fallible person with her own viewpoint and agenda. So once I get there do I have any right to complain about how little of the truth I may have discovered in her article? Did she promise to reveal to me the wisdom of ages? No! And yet, I do this time and again.

I fail because I am anxious and worried about many things. I'm worried about having the "right" point of view. I'm worried about the abstract elements of truth and justice, while I continue my life pretty much unchanged. I remind myself in my activity of the Pharisses of whom Jesus said, "You tithe your tithes of mint and rue. . ." I tithe my tithes by announcing so much publicly, but how much have I declared korban; how much do I worry about truth, charity, peace, and justice, and then do nothing to reify these in the world today.

In this light, no matter how much I may quibble with Sister Joan, she is positively acting on core beliefs and prinicples by making the attempt to articulate them and encourage others to act. I do not do as much as this--I'm too anxious and worried.

The solution--sit down for a while, breathe deeply, open the Good Book (as my Grandparents all termed it) and spend some time with the Lord. And immediately, I can give you 10,000,000 reasons why I cannot do that. And every one of them has a certain measure of validity, and every one of them is part of the arsenal that defends the battlements and guards the fortress of the heart. Oh Lord, I want to be changed, but not too much and not too fast and not just yet. But you can change all that!

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You are not nearly the only one there, Stephen...I go there a lot myself!

A Prayer for Frustrating Moments

and confused,
I turn to you,
my anchor, my hope, my light.

O Lord,
so much I long to accomplish
so often what I turn my hand to
seems to crumble up
and blow away
like dust,
either my standing in the way of your action,
or struggling against the current of where you would have me go.

help me to learn
and to persevere,
to have pure motives,
to understand the paths you set me on,
to choose your way over my own,
and above all, to always be willing to say yes.

Reading anyone associated with the National Catholic Distorter is like driving by a horrible traffic accident, or better yet, seeing a picture of a horribly mutated animal. You just can't bring yourself not to look, only out of a truly morbid curiosity, almost a disbelief that these things actually exist.

Double-dactyl...can't resist...oh well:

Sister Joan Chittister,
Catholic columnist,
Often provokes one to
Snarl and spit.

One cannot say she is
Truly heretical;
Still, she's annoying. A-
Nathema sit!

Dear Steven,

Please feel free to delete the preceding if you find it excessively uncharitable.

Dear Bob,

Everyone is entitled to an opinion. I opined on JCecil3's blog that one of her column that repeated hearsay was scandalmongering. I was told that I was uncharitable for saying so. It brings up an important point I make elsewhere. I never said that Sister Joan was a scandalmonger--I said the article was scandalmongering--a very different accusation--and possibly still not accurate.

Opinions differ on Sister Joan. I am unenthused about her and have determined that except in extraordinary circumstances I rather doubt she has anything notable to say to me. In all charity, she would probably conclude the same were she to meet me.





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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on July 27, 2004 1:41 PM.

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