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Friday, December 26, 2008

Poor Dumb Jesus


O Holy Night!

And now, back to reality.

What a bunch of crabby pants readers we've had, and at Christmastime, no less. Merry Christmas Sister Mary Martha! You are working for poor dumb Jesus, Who just had the craziest ideas ever. You'd be better off married to General George Armstrong Custer. At least he looked good in his uniform.

Yes, the argument about how it's okay to call whoever we like whatever we like if we have decided the derogatory term is descriptive enough rages on.

From a reader, as to my post explaining, with great patience, why the proper term for everyone that isn't "me" is "Brother", I get this:

Italics Mine

And this is why political correctness is so tiresome. Do we really need to spell out that "white trash" is an idiom? Yes, we do, especially if there are children present while we are spewing this animosity. And no one is actually advocating taking any one of them, crumpling them up and tossing them in the wastebasket like an old piece of scrap paper? Not yet, not this time, but maybe tomorrow when we argue that since they do not seem to care enough for themselves, we don't need to care for them either. Never mind that Jesus said exactly the opposite. I think it went something like this: "Whatsoever you do the least of My brothers (there's that word again!) that you also do unto Me." Unlike, however, what white trash are often known to do with their own unborn. Abortion mills do quite a business in white trash areas. Abortion mills do quite a business everywhere. Historically, abortion is a procedure that was only safely performed on the upper classes. So here we are, calling an entire class of people murderers. What was it you were saying about an idiom, again?

Not all of white trash culture is immoral:Thank goodness you are here to judge the morality of an entire class of people. Do go on! no one sins when they hang a black velvet Jesus painting, own an Elvis clock or puts plastic flowers in the dirt in front of their home. Uh-oh, am I about to be judged because of my glow in the dark St. Claire statue? But a life-style built around fatherlessness (or child-abandonment from either parents), drunkenness, drug use, unrelenting foul language from the cradle to grave, avoiding a job and sleeping with your half-sister, well, that's sin. And if we're to really be charitable to those who commit such atrocities, it just might be saving some people if you give them a clue that their behavior is white-trash-like and is damaging to their souls.

What might be more charitable is for us to love other people as brothers as Jesus commanded us. But then, as we have discovered time and time again, a lot of people obviously think something was wrong with Jesus. His ideas are too hard, too silly, to unrealistic and only for saints, who are all crazy people too.

I'm sure there are reasons Jesus so loved sinners. Maybe He identifies with people you so need to call white trash. His earthly father didn't sleep with His mother at all. Clearly a case of neglect or some sexual dysfunction. Jesus never had a job and just lived off of other people who put Him up in their houses and fed Him AND all his friends. He actually told His friends to STOP WORKING and hang out with Him. His final words to them was a commandment to never even try to earn money and have any money or nice clothes or even shoes. Lazy slobs. No wonder they were all killed.

Jesus loved sinners. Remember? We never have to condone sin to love a sinner. God does it every single minute. It makes me extremely sad to think that we can not let go of calling people some kind of name and that we insist it is just fine and dandy to do so.

Can you imagine if Father stood in the pulpit said "white trash" and meant it? Why is it not okay for Father to say that, but okay for you?

Maybe it's time to bring back the ruler.

And just when I thought everyone wasn't crabby enough:
Sister, I went to Midnight Mass last night, at St. Cyril's of Jerusalem, in Encino, Cal., and the Mass lasted 1 hr and 45 min. because the choir was up behind the altar and the Mass would stop each time the choir launched into a song. I got so tired of it. When did Show Business replace the Sacrifice of the Mass?

Oh, please. It's Jesus' birthday. That was His birthday party. You've already been to Mass so you can sleep in on Christmas day. Jesus was there at the party. Why would you want to ever leave?

Always count your blessings. I'll bet the music was beautiful. You could have had an hour and forty five minutes of this:

34 comments:

Michael Hallman said...

Oh Sister, my oh my. I just wanted to say that I love you. And Merry Christmas. And Happy St. Stephen's Day. Oh, well it's after midnight now, so Happy St. John's Day. How about just Happy Holydays :-) And I love you. That is all.

Peace,
Michael

Janelle said...

I tend to think of "Les Misérables" in such cases....

However, I have a real question, Sister Mary Martha. If Epiphany is on the 6th and there are 12 Days of Christmas, why are we celebrating Epiphany on January 4th this year in the US? Is there any connection with the Feast of American St. Elizabeth Ann Seton? Or is it because the 4th is a Sunday? Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas, Sister.

Your blog is an ongoing gift. Thank you!

Now, we all begin thinking about 2009, and our New Year's resolutions. My resolution is to go on a diet, like a zillion other people. I need to lose a significant amount of weight - more than one hundred pounds.

I eat too much, and I move about too little. Is this what the sin of gluttony is and should that be part of my confession?

I liked your earlier post about patron saints of dieting. I am asking them to pray for me as I begin this diet and also to think seriously about how my dietary choices are affecting not only my body, but my soul.

Therese said...

Merry Christmas Sister and may 2009 be full of blessings for you. I look forward to more of your posts then too.

Therese

Rebekka said...

Hi Sister,

I have a question about the works of mercy. I understand that one of the corporal works of mercy is caring for the sick. I am (finally!) about to complete my training be a nurse. Is doing my job a work of mercy or does it not count because I get paid for it?

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Thank you thank you thank you, Sister.

Jack in the Hinterlands said...

SSM

It has taken forever to figure out how to leave a comment.
I find this blog to have the most refreshing content of any religious site I have seen. And you actually keep it current. Others may have a greater amount of content, but usually only more ego and more vituperation. Keep up the good work.

Holy Family Sunday:
Let's see: Born in a barn away from family home; Parents engaged but not married at the time; (actually not all sure about that, they could have done a quickie wedding under the rabbi's back steps after the angel told Joseph to ixnay the private divorce idea.) Seem to have been sharing a roof together for at least some time; Pursued by the law. Hmmmm. I suspect there were those around who called him "brown tent trash."
No wonder he hung out so much with sinners. And aren't we glad he did!!!!

Now a question. I keep seeing pictures of our ecclesial prelates decked out like Liberace on one of his worse days. I mean, Jesus and the Apostles never would have been seen dead in outfits like this. (Me neither.) So why do the princes of the church?

Jack in the Hinterlands

Anonymous said...

What a piece of work, this is, dear Sister!

Everytime I read this blog I end up with tears in my eyes (and a little sinus congestion due to the suppressed tears in my ears).

So very glad, that there's a deario who chose this accessible missionary work.

And, God bless to you and all who share the conversation. Buon Natale, and Blessed New Year!

Templariidvm said...

Happy Christmas, Sister!!

Too many crabby-pants people!! My business is failing because of the economy and the snow storms, but you know what? It was Christ's birthday just 2 days ago! My business does not go with me when I die. My faith gets me where I REALLY want to go. I wish you and all of your readers a truly blessed season celebrating Jesus' birth.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 12:44, here is a website you may be able to use. I've read/heard many who praise it. http://www.settingcaptivesfree.com/lords_table/

Also Anonymous :)

Ginkgo100 said...

Sister, you don't need me backing me up when you've got Jesus (your own spouse) backing you up. But we're all part of the Body of Christ, so perhaps my words will help buck you up anyway.

I have always, like you, loathed the term "white trash" to the core of my being. In terms of offensiveness, it ranks up there with those racial slurs we can't even refer to, let alone use, because they are so odious.

To the people who consider it "just an idiom," as if that renders it harmless: Words matter. Word choice matters. You complained about the use of foul language, so clearly you know this. Please consider that "white trash" is also foul language.

I used to work in a community populated by people who many would call "white trash." There were a lot of trailers, a lot of poverty, a lot of alcohol and methamphetamine and pit bulls and hard living. And a lot of love, hard work, and Christian faith (including many Catholics). They were the grandparents and cousins and friends of more well-to-do people. They were little different from you or me. They were children of God, gathered under the shelter of Christ's wings.

If Christ were born today, he would hang out with white trash, and instead of Pharisees, he would upbraid uppity bloggers who care more for the external trappings of a differing culture than for the love of God and his children.

Jane said...

I'm sorry people have been so crabby! You're so right about the term "white trash," Sister.

As for the person who complained about the music at Midnight Mass, well. Music makes celebrations more joyful--therefore, the more celebratory the day, the more music there ought to be! Also, Mass doesn't "stop" when the choir launches into a song--that song is part of the Mass.

If you are unwilling to spend more than an hour at Mass with Jesus on his birthday, I would suggest examining your priorities (think of the last time you went to a beloved friend's birthday party--were you there more than an hour? Were you impatient to get out of there?) Try going to an Eastern Rite Catholic Church, like St. Andrew's Russian Catholic Church in El Segundo, St. Paul Chaldean Catholic Church in North Hollywood, or Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Church in LA--their Divine Liturgies take more than two hours, and that's on a normal Sunday. They'll teach you about having patience in your prayer time. Liturgy is on God's time, not yours, and it takes as long as it takes.

And, yes, the choir at St. Cyril's is pretty decent, and very unlike the video Sister Mary Martha posted. I feel a bit sorry for those girls; music clearly isn't their strong point, and it's sad that they've been put on public display doing something they're neither good at nor enthusiastic about.

--JaneC, B.A. in Sacred Music (vocal performance), and wife of an organist (come hear us at St. Victor's in West Hollywood)

P.S. In my experience, Masses that take more than an hour usually have more to do with the priest giving a long homily than the music choices--there are very few sacred choral works that take more than six minutes to perform.

Tienne said...

Oh, Sister, where do you find these video gems? God Bless their dear souls, don't quit your day job, girls.

Your blog is, as always, a source of truth and light.

Merry Christmas, Sister!

cathmom5 said...

Sister,
I hope you had a blessed birthday party for your spouse. My husband did not make it home for Christ's Mass but I took my five children for the party anyway. Our Mass was a quieter affair (no choir for that Mass) but it was still about an hour and a half. All my children behaved as a lady and gentlemen should. I was very proud especially of my 3 yo. I try my hardest to ignore the rude people who come in 15 minutes late and leave before Father processes down the aisle. I try to stay focused on the ever enduring patience and love of Jesus Himself. I love your blog. Keep it up Sister. You're wonderful!

Happy Birthday, Jesus!!!

Shannon said...

Dear Sister,

Merry Christmas!!

I have a question:
Does the practice of making New Year's resolutions have any root in our Catholic faith? It seems that every time we go to confession we make a resolution (or two, or a hundred)but are New Years resolutions even BETTER seeing as it's just after Advent and Christmas?
Also, I notice that you are getting lots of new people on your followers list. Can we really start to vote for your blog in the Blogger's Choice Awards now? Anyway, it might be a good resolution for all of us followers to make....you know, to pop on by and vote sometime in the next few months!
Always a good and uplifting read, and never EVER dull!!!

distracted by shiny objects said...

You're correct, sometimes around this time of year people do turn into major crabby-pants. I think it has something to do with a feeling of constantly failing to live up the all the hype and shoulda, coulda, woulda's that latch their way onto us. And sometimes a person can only feel good about themselves if they put someone else down. One of the challenges of "loving your neighbor as yourself" is that not everyone loves themselves very much. Jesus sure said a mouthful with that directive.
Happy New Year, Sister M&M

Alexis said...

I wondered if you might be able to tell me a reliable site for hagiography. I have just looked up St. John of God and read three very conflicting accounts: conflicting on more or less important points, such as whether he became a soldier to escape importunate marriage proposals or whether he took up his charitable work as penance for the misery he caused as a soldier or whether he was simply a heroic soldier for a brief time. I cannot feel that this online version of the Catholic Encyclopedia is really reliable - too many typos and hyperlinks, not at all like the venerable printed edition wiht which I have whiled away many happy hours when I was meant to be doing research on my thesis. Neither do I feel that I can bring myself to trust Wikipedia entirely, even though it is better orthographically. I hope that you can tell me of somewhere (other than your excellent blog) that I might find reliable information on saints on the internet. If anyone would know, I think it should be you.

ConcernedAbout said...

What on earth is going on here? you are talking about Jesus as if he existed in a matter-of-fact manner. This certainty is completely unwarranted. Do you have even the faintest of ideas about biblical scholarship? It seems not.

The Bible is a collection of tales that you are behaving as if have been proven to be true. There is no reason to think that these tales are anything other than fiction. There are no contemporary accounts of the existance of Jesus, the gospels were not written by eye witnesses and are hearsay at best.

No-one has ever proven a single Bible story to be true, yet millions of people seem to think that someone has.

By all means behave as the Biblical Jesus would have you behave, but to act as if the Biblical stories are real accounts of historic events is childish and dishonest.

Leigh said...

It's all about context Sister. I have great reverence and a whole-lotta-love for my relatives and ancestors. Having said that, I have no problem telling folks that I "descend from a long line of poor white trash". It's one of those things where you are somehow allowed to mildly disparage a group to which you belong. However, heaven help the person outside my family who refers to my brood as PWT.

Mary Ellen said...

Hello Sister! This is a wierd question--one reason I don't walk up and ask my parish priest. I came home to the Catholic church almost a year ago, and this is my first Christmas--an incredible celebration I might add--but I seem to remember in childhood singing Christmas songs forever because we did it thru Ephianny. So I see that the 3 Kings arrive on January 4th this year. Has that changed from 25 years ago? Is there anything else I should know about?

By the way, I live in an incredibly white trash area, and besides the usual brokeness and sadness, white trash strive to live "normal" lives just as much as the rest of us do. They are usually just terribly hurting folks--and granted--they cause much of their own pain thru their life choices, but the just don't know how to live the commandments/beatitudes which structure out lives to make them easier for us. That's a hard set of rules to implement in a family situtation that's already living by their former rules. It takes generations to make the change, even if they're trying their hardest. It's hard to believe but many of the folks in America still don't understand Christianity and what it can do for their daily lives--bring them peace, joy, love etc, not as a miracle but by following the program Jesus set up for us to create heaven on earth.

Anyway, for folks who think White Trash are different, they're not. They're just like us without the generations of holy saints praying for their posterity in heaven.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sister,
Our Lord did not use racial terms but He did use the term brigand.
Love Paulliecd

Therese said...

No-one has ever proven a single Bible story to be true, yet millions of people seem to think that someone has.

I wonder Concerned about, what would you consider proof that a bible story is true?

Dymphna said...

If you've ever lived next to a meth house or had to walk past the trailer park you wouldn't be so sentimental about white trash. They're bad news as neighbors.

TheIntrepidPie said...

A priest once told me to "treat every one you meet like they were Christ himself." Would you call Jesus names? Would you disrespect Jesus' way of life because it was different than yours? I should hope not!

Thank you for the nice post. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

PS. I really liked the little musical breaks we had this Christmas Mass! We have a really nice choir!

Lawrence said...

Ahhhh... that was me that complained about Midnight Mass at St. Cyril's of Jerusalem. All I can say is thank goodness I wasn't within wooden ruler-reach of Sister Mary Martha, or my poor old scarred knuckles would have hurt for days!

Debra said...

I love your blog. I love you!

I would like your opinion on the issue of young children at Mass.

My husband once knew a priest who would stop Mass if a child was crying and ask the parent to remove the child...so he's been "trained" if you will to hold steadfast to the belief that children do not belong in Mass.

I tend to agree, only because I often have trouble hearing the homily for all the fussing, talking and crying. We have a 20 month old whom we would never expect to sit quiet and still for an hour. We take turns going to Mass on Sunday while the other spends time with our child--of course it takes twice as long but it gets the job done! We have taken our son to Mass once in a pinch (vacation) and I was so busy trying to keep him occupied that I didn't really participate in Mass. I don't know how other people do it (or do they?).

I love your insight and want the honest truth: Are we being too wet-blanket-ish or do you, too, think it's a good idea to keep young children at home until they can reasonable sit still for at least an hour without needing coloring books or Cheerios?

Anonymous said...

Proof that the biblical stories are true?

Lol, did you know they haven't even proven the Theory of Gravity yet? Guess gravity must not exist then!

XXCatholic said...

Dear Sister Mary Martha:
Regarding your reader’s description of white trash as being
"a life-style built around fatherlessness (or child-abandonment from either parents), drunkenness, drug use, unrelenting foul language from the cradle to grave, avoiding a job and sleeping with your half-sister,”…

I would like to add the following to Sister's already fabulous and thorough response:

Since when is that kind of behavior limited to any group whatsoever? I’ve personally known dozens of people who fit that description to a tee who are as far away from being considered “white trash” as you can get. Some of them are my own family members, so I think I can talk. All that exact same stuff goes on at any economic level you choose to look at. The only difference is that well-off people have more options and resources to buffer them from the consequences of all their bad choices. Money and personal connections go a long way toward glossing over the behaviors your reader describes. Someone higher up the economic ladder is likely to have loved ones with the misguided willingness to repeatedly bail them out, “fixing” or hiding problems by pouring money on them.

When people living at the bottom of the barrel make bad choices, they get no breaks, no second chances. More than likely everyone else in their family is as dirt poor as they are, going back generations. They don’t have anyone to shore them up for a couple of decades while they “work through their issues.” Life is challenging for us all, but poor people are out there on the front lines.

The commenter Mary Ellen, above, is right. “It takes generations to make the change, even if they're trying their hardest.”

Anonymous said...

First, there has been the charge of someone being “crabby” being lobbed here and let’s be clear: The nerve that was hit for two-plus posts sure doesn’t run through my body. I have no problem with what I said and I happen to agree with it because it’s, you know, the truth. But I’ll get back to that.

Whether you or I like it or not, white-trash behavior exists and if you haven’t caught on yet, I don’t like it, at all. It is oriented toward the lower, baser instincts, drives and desires. Those sinful behaviors of course are found in other cultures, other socio-economic classes, but we’re not talking about them now. There are better, more excellent ways to live that are oriented toward truth, goodness and beauty. Pretending that a rejection of those ideals doesn’t exist simply by toeing the politically correct line of word-police doesn’t make it any less so.

I don’t believe that any one prays, desires, wishes or hopes for themselves or their children to remain in or aspire to white trash behavior. And I thoroughly and completely reject the idea that, as some commenters have said, it takes “generations”. No, it doesn’t. It takes an act of the will. It takes a response to grace. Otherwise, that’s enabling and excusing people in their sinfulness, which is misguided compassion and is sinful in its own right.

But let’s take a few steps back. It was you who posted the original comment, with the phrase “non-church going white trailor trash”.

And you didn’t censor it.

You didn’t delete it.

As a matter of fact, you took no notice of it at all until some of your combox fans objected to it. And when I pointed out that the phrase exists because that lifestyle exists, you decided it was me you were going to, um, address.

So I have to believe that it really didn’t bother you half as much as my comments. And that says a lot. You can use the phrase in a public post, but don’t let anyone say anything about the truth of it existing or not?

Abortion mills do quite a business everywhere. Historically, abortion is a procedure that was only safely performed on the upper classes. (Not true, at all. The stories of deathly back-alley abortions for the lower classes are lies, used by keep-abortion-safe-and-legal apologists) So here we are, calling an entire class of people murderers.

Fact: Abortion mills are far more common in ghettos and lower-class neighborhoods – both black and white. People who work at and use the services of an abortion mill are murderers.

I'm sure there are reasons Jesus so loved sinners. Maybe He identifies with people you so need to call white trash.


Christ didn't "identify" with sinners. He called them to stop sinning. He called them on their sin and told them to go and sin no more…not wait a few generations to let them work it out of their system. That's what charity demands.

Here’s the truth: Man is made in the image and likeness of God. We were given an intrinsic dignity as individuals. As unique individual persons; not cultures, not countries, not social classes. To go down that path is not Catholic thinking.

Can you imagine if Father stood in the pulpit said "white trash" and meant it? Why is it not okay for Father to say that, but okay for you?

Precisely because I am not Father giving a homily, no more than you are “Sister Mary Martha” nor are you that picture that you post as yourself. This is an anonymous blog and combox and doesn’t demand the formality that a homily does. Basic stuff.

But back to the “crabby” charge: I’m not going to tell you to not call something what it is; that was my initial point. What I will tell you is that you need to address your name-calling to the correct person. And it wasn’t me who was wishing I could hit you.

“Maybe it's time to bring back the ruler.” To what, make neat lines on my paper? Or to crack me with it because you just can’t bear to hear that the whole world isn’t really one great big warm-n-fuzzy group hug?

peregrinator said...

Sister, that video is priceless!

To the fellow who found the music a bit much at Midnight Mass, (*dodging Sr. Mary Martha's ruler*) I sympathize... and I'm in the choir!

Or rather I'm in the small & rather amature choir that sings at the mid-morning Mass at my church. We come in ordinary Sunday clothes and sing from the choir loft, where we are at least out of sight, if not out of mind.

Well, for Midnight Mass we were mixed with the much more competent choir from another Mass, given a ton of unfamiliar music, stuffed into choir robes, and stuck up in the front of the church. And then halfway through Mass an altar-server fainted! (He was fine; just overcome by incense.)

One of the other altos said it best afterwards, "I didn't feel like I went to Mass at all." But then I remembered that what I feel doesn't have much to do with anything.

(Nonetheless, I was actually grateful I had to sing the (rather more staid) Christmas morning Mass too.)

Anonymous said...

Debra,
I/we always brought the children from their earliest days. We frequently made trips to the church during the week for weekday Mass, or just for a short visit with Jesus. That helped the children contain their curiosity during Sunday Mass, because when the church was quiet (and sometimes empty except for us), we could walk around and look at statues, the Stations, the windows and whatever else caught their fancy. I was often "outnumbered" 4:1, but rarely experienced difficulty; however, came VERY prepared - many, many, MANY softcover, Bible storybooks and we sat as close to the front (and an aisle) as possible. Also, we sang hymns at home for bedtime prayers that were common in our parish, so the children could participate. And, by the time they were old enough to listen (about 2 y.o.) I would read parts of the Mass readings to them the day before and we would talk about what the readings meant (at the children's level). That way, the next day, they would hear familiar words. We NEVER brought food, but had milk for babies, of course. Yes, I sometimes was distracted for short periods, but having gone over the readings the day before to help the children also helped me during the distracting times.

And, you know there's nothing wrong in expectations for toddlers. There's enough up and down going on at Mass that a 20-month-old can manage if you expect him to and offer a little help. If he (or she) doesn't learn now, then when? And why will it be easier when he/she is old enough to argue about it?

Mom of five, Grandma of three

Charlotte said...

"Concerned About" seems to be immersed in LEFTIST Biblical Scholarship. Did he ever hear of Josephus?

Also, "Concerned About" obviously doesn't consort with the millions who still pray and attend church, well, because it works. Many of us have had miracles in our lives, and we KNOW the source of those miracles and answered prayers.

What a sad state to be in, poor "Concerned About."

MissJean said...

"Concerned About" is nothing to be concerned about. On his blog, he also said he thinks Socrates didn't exist but was a fabrication of Plato.

That's pretty funny, considering we have more than one account by Socrates' contemporaries, including an entire play that mocked the philosopher as an immoral and treasonous old man.

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