Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say, But Don’t Say It Mean

I’ll admit that I struggle with the concept of “civility.” I keep it as a very firm rule for myself. I try to be clear but also charitable in what I say. I also try to avoid “ad hominem attacks” which are  attacks on the person rather than the argument. I also try to avoid assigning motive when the motive is not clear to me.

But I also admit that there is a great deal of variability in what people consider civil discourse. In some cultures there is a greater tolerance for anger. I remember dating an Italian girl for a brief time back in college. I remember being at her house and how she and her mother could really go at it with a heated debate (usually in Italian – Mama Mia!). But no sooner had they very intensely argued over some particular, say  of preparing the meal,  than they were just fine, as if nothing had happened. Angry discourse was more “normal” for them. Even in this country there are regional differences about civility. In New York and Boston, edgy comments and passionate interruptive  debate are common.  But in the upper midwest and parts of the deep south conversation is more gentle and reserved. At the time of Jesus angry discourse was apparently quite “normal” for Jesus himself engages in a lot of it, even calling them names like, “Hypocrites.” “Brood of Vipers,” “Liars,” “Wicked” etc.  Yet, the same scriptures that record these facts about Jesus teach that he never sinned. Hence, at that time such terms were not considered sinful to utter and must not have been since I am a firm believer that Jesus never sinned. Jesus even engaged in prophetic actions like overturning the tables in the temple courts. No one said he’d done wrong,  they just wondered where he got the authority to do this (cf Mark 11:28). In that culture prophets did things like this. No one liked it,  but just like our culture tolerates some degree of civil disobedience, even reveres it, Jesus’ culture  expected things like this from prophets. Now be careful here. I am not saying it is OK for us to talk like this because Jesus did. We do not live then, we live now and in our culture such dialogue is almost never acceptable. There ARE cultural norms we have to respect to remain in the realm of Charity.

So there seems to be a lot of variability in the concept of civility and civil discourse. In general our culture seems to prefer a gentler style of discourse, with the regional variability I have already mentioned taken into consideration. But we have recently been through a very tough Healthcare debate (battle?) in which the discourse went beyond what many think was civil. Over at the USCCB blog is a posting  which raises concerns about it. I would like to excerpt it here and add some of my own comments in RED. And as always I’d like to know what you think. (You can read the complete and uninterrupted USCCB Blog post here: USCCB Media Blog) Meanwhile here are my excerpts and comments.

The heat in the aftermath of passage of health care reform reveals the depth of feeling among those for and against the landmark bill that affects all Americans. Such heat, however, cannot justify the verbal and physical violence that has ensued. 

If we needed health care because of the crisis affecting the sick, especially the weakest among us, we need even more a move toward civility, if not for our own betterment then at least for the betterment of our children.

 Politics has become a kind of blood sport. News junkies over the weekend heard reports of crowds shouting racist remarks and individuals spitting at African American lawmakers, including John Lewis, who suffered violence years ago when he marched for Civil Rights. Surely he – and all of us – has a right to expect that that chapter of despicable, racist violence long overThis event is not verified or recorded in any of the video from that day. At best it is a story that is going around that we can only hope is untrue. It is reported that Congressman John Lewis did mention hearing some slurs but did not clearly indicate if they were racial slurs or what. Further it is not certain how many,  if any,  engaged in this behavior. Was it one, many, etc. It is not certain. If it did happen it is reprehensible. But likely it involved just one or a few. I do think we have made a lot of progress in this area and that such behavior is not tolerable in our society. The vast majority of those who were against the bill would surely and adamantly agree that any such behavior in this regard was unacceptable. John Lewis is surely a hero of the Civil Rights Movement.  What ever variability there may be in how people size up civility, racial slurs and spitting are beyond any one’s tolerance.

 We’ve seen reports of homes and offices of lawmakers vandalized and heard of death threats. Anonymous messages are being left on voicemails – I even got one from a nun, for goodness sake. If that isn’t proof that we’ve gone astray I don’t know what is. Yes, and for the record this happened on both sides of the debate. Congressman Stupak, interviewed on NBC news indicated receiving threats from pro-choice people when he was holding out due to abortion funding. After the vote the threats switched to the pro-life side! Alas, here too we can only hope that those who make such threats are in the vast minority. It is true however that threats of this nature are a regular part of the lives of public figures, not just politicians, but also media personalities, movie and sports figures, and others.  

 The wonderfully unedited Web may share some blame as it gives free reign to those who say whatever suits their strategic purpose, truthful or not. Their presentations – usually anonymous – underscore a significant failing of the Web, lack of editors and accountability. Ah and here is where it comes home my friends. What is said here has a lot of truth. The anonymous quality of many who participate can lead to much higher levels of unkindness and inaccuracy. If no one know who I am I can say just about anything. In general our discourse at this blog has been civil but we have had our moments. The impersonal quality of a lot of the communication can lead to a kind of forgetfulness that a real person, or person is on the ther side of the screen. Further, writing does not always allow the nuance of the spoken word and personal interaction where tone of voice and facial expression can often supply clarifying data that one is speaking ironically, or facetiously, or just in good fun. True we do have our “emoticons”  like 🙂 and 😉 and LOL! that help but we have to be very careful when we write to remember that much data is lost when the word is only written. Accuracy is also a bit of a problem when the writer  is anonymous for they are less concerned with their reputation and will more likely say inaccurate things that they would otherwise have to verify. Hence our reserve to speak about things we are not sure of  is diminished.

 The intolerance and incivility did not begin with legislation passed Sunday night. It is not unrelated to the divisions that exist in our country and, sadly, even in our church. Yes, how we Catholics speak to each other needs further reflection. It has been my experience that most Catholics are far more passionate about their politics that their faith. This is sad but it also affects the way we speak to one another. We often use political terminology such as right/left; conservative/liberal which may not well apply to the Church settings. I fielded a lot of remarks in the past week accusing the Bishops of being lap dogs for the GOP etc. But I guarantee you when it comes to immigration reform or capital punishment, that others accuse them of being “lap dogs” for the Democrats. What if they were neither? What if they were Catholic and trying to articualte Catholic principles in a polarized world? What seems to happen is that we take a lot of our politics into the Church with us. To be sure there are some very serious divisions in the Church that need often frank discussion and cannot reduce to a “Can’t we all just get along” mentality. Finding the balance is not always easy.

It starts with how we view others – as enemies rather than as fellow travelers on the journey of life. It includes whether or not we’re willing to give another the benefit of the doubt, accepting that their intentions are good, even if their goals differ from ours. It involves accepting the fact that each of us is a child of God and precious to Him and our brother or sister. – Well said.

Last Tuesday, March 23, Cardinal Francis George, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, noted the bishops’ disappointment that the health reform legislation did not include all they sought….Even in disappointment, the bishops were civil and generous. Their position is worth emulating.

[There is] a maxim attributed to St. Augustine, “In essentials, unity, in non-essentials diversity, in all things charity.” In all things charity surely is the message we all need today. It’s not a bad start to Holy Week.

So, there it is. How exactly to define civility in every instance is not always clear. An old answer to these hard to define things is “I know when I see it.” So perhaps it is more art than science to define civility But it is clearly getting edged out, to be sure. In an era when shared values and reverence for a shared and immutable truth have been largely jettisoned what we end up with is power struggle. Such a scenario is usually ugly.

In the Black Community where I minister there is an expression, “Now don’t go and make me lose my religion!” What it usually means is that we can get so wrapped up in our anger and frustration that we cast off charity, which is the highest call of our faith. We need to check ourselves occasionally. In a world increasingly hostile,  where do we stand?  It may be true that, as we discussed above, there are some cultural differences when it comes to what is acceptable in discourse. But in the end charity and civility cannot be wholly cast aside. Say what you mean, mean what you say, but don’t say it mean. And whatever you do make sure you don’t lose your religion!  🙂

Here is a video I have posted before showing the “angry” style of Jesus culture. He is no wilting flower here nor are his listeners shy about expressing their opinion. Our culture is not generally very accepting of such discourse.

37 Replies to “Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say, But Don’t Say It Mean”

  1. My 70-year-old aunt and her friend attended the Tea Party and said this about the reported “bad behavior” on her Facebook page.

    “Just want to comment on the news – INCORRECT news about the teaparty. Gene and I went and it was a great day. Everyone we saw even walking through the crowds were very respectful and NO ONE said anything nasty. I hope you young things take an interest in your country and find out what is really going on.”

  2. It’s not that anger itself is sinful, but that in each of us it lacks righteousness. As Saint Paul said, “There is no righteous man, no not one. Except Jesus, of course, who was without sin and is God. “Vengeance belongs to the Lord. The rest of us get mad for all the wrong reasons most of the time. Often we feel obligated to try to change someone’s mind with argument because we no longer believe in the power of prayer. How much less distressing would the obduracy of others be if we knew that our requests for mercy for ourselves and others, are heard and work quiet and painstaking miracles. I know that Mass is the perfect prayer, but it would be a powerful thing for the church to bring worshipers in specifically for group prayer of other kinds in vigils to address pressing issues.

  3. “You have heard that it was said to them of old: You shall not kill. And whosoever shall kill, shall be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council. And whosoever shall say, You fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” Matt. 5:21-22

    As a priest I knew used to say, “Some things only Jesus can say and go free.”

    1. Yeah that’s a pretty good way to understand it. Only Jesus could call someone a hypocrite and really know what he was talking about. The rest of us can only guess as to the state of a person’s soul

  4. Their presentations – usually anonymous – underscore a significant failing of the Web, lack of editors and accountability.

    Freedom is NOT a failing. In fact, it is a moral imperative. Hence, the Tree.

    And anonymity, notwithstanding the potential for spreading misinformation and disinformation, actually protects truth. It allows the speaker or writer to communicate truth without fear of reprisals by those who would oppress them. To be sure, our democratic system of government is grounded in anonymity, in the ability of the voter to voice his preferences secretly and without disclosure of who he is, thus guaranteeing a free society.

    Sr. Mary Ann: We’ve seen reports of homes and offices of lawmakers vandalized and heard of death threats. . . .
    Msgr. Pope: Yes, and for the record this happened on both sides of the debate.

    Of course, it should not have been necessary for the Monsignor to add this bit of clarification, but one does read Sr. Mary Ann’s piece and get the impression that it was prompted by the accusations against one particular “side” in this controversy. The side, I note, that the powers that be have vociferously refused to listen to or give any consideration to.

    Meanwhile, the other side advocates for blood, real blood, not only as a sport, but as lustful “choice.” And many on that same side routinely engage in the most offensive and insulting language and behavior (e.g. our current President, Senate leader, Speaker of the House, and their allies in the MSM), not to mention their army of professional protesters, like ANSWER and ACORN who engage in riots and smash up businesses. But these things did not prompt this call for civility.

    It starts with how we view others – as enemies rather than as fellow travelers on the journey of life. It includes whether or not we’re willing to give another the benefit of the doubt, accepting that their intentions are good, even if their goals differ from ours.

    This view, of course, is contrary to the counterfeit “social justice” that is too often pushed at the expense of authentic social justice. The counterfeit “social justice,” of which this travesty of tyranny is only one recent example, is intrinsically divisive, viewing all of life as us-versus-them class conflict, it pits one side against the other, demonizing the so-called “haves” with the mentality of settling scores and getting even, enflaming people’s materialistic desires, envies and jealousies, and to the extent that it is religiously based, it is grounded in a “theology of liberation.” This hijacking of authentic social justice is founded on certitude that the intentions of others are bad.

    The heat in the aftermath of passage of health care reform reveals the depth of feeling among those for and again
    st the landmark bill that affects all Americans. Such heat, however, cannot justify the verbal and physical violence that has ensued.

    Now I will speak to the behavior of the opponents — Actually, it has been fairly tame, when viewed by historic American standards. In the early years of our Republic, we would not have merely impolite words spoken and written, we would have had the people rise up in actual revolt and armed rebellion.

    With respect to ObamaCare, all reports demonstrate, now that it has passed and we are able to learn what is in it, to quote Nancy Pelosi, that it will be destructive of the ability to provide actual medical treatment and will end up making life harder and more expensive for everyone, including increased unemployment and a greater inability for individuals and families to provide for their own healthcare needs themselves, without government intrusion, including an assault on the Church and the Christian faithful. And when we see such an overwhelming assault on our liberties as is ObamaCare, including the despotic manner in which supporters sought to enact it, we should not be surprised to see an impassioned response.

    In Jeremiah, there were false prophets proclaiming, “peace, peace” when there was no peace, and the Lord was not pleased, to say the least. To proclaim “peace” in such a time, even when done in good faith out of a desire to avoid conflict, is not doing charity to anyone. It is a false charity and a false peace that is sought, a “charity” and “peace” that are contrary to truth.

    What is called for in these times, as in all things, is charity in truth. Proclaim the truth, even though the world may conspire against it and seek to oppress it. Sometimes, that means speaking what might seem to be harshly. But it is a mistake to believe that the Prince of Peace never raised His voice and never confronted injustice with passivity.

    Sr. Mary Ann means well in her piece. And in normal times, I would heartily agree and endorse what she says. But as applied to this situation, it falls short.

    1. I think your insights are generally on target Bender. Sr’s piece seemed a bit one isded to me too though I tried to affirm what I could in her piece. Most generally calls for civility are aimed at the the right. They may have their Hannity’s and Levin’s But the left has Keith Olberman, Daily Kos, and others too. As a perspective to all this I must say that I have an Ethiopian Priest who lives in my rectory and he minsters the Geez Rite here. He marvels that after elections we do not have an outbreak of war. It is the routine experience in his country that every time they elect a new leader there are usually 2 years of civil war. Now that’s incivility!

  5. Msgr., another good post. But I wanted to compliment you on your formatting. You put your words in red, but you also made bold what you were quoting. I suffer from colorblindness. Other than allowing me to dress in some odd color choices one of the bigger problems is that so much of the world relies on red to make things stand out. Red simply does not jump out at people with my form of colorblindness, which is not too unusual in men.

    Had you not also made bold what you were quoting I would not have been able to distinguish what you wrote from what you quoted. People are understandably not aware of how those with color blindness see the world. If you gave me a Bible where the words of Jesus were in red I’d think he had said absolutely nothing.

    1. Good, I am glad that helped! Interesting about colorblindness. Were you born with this or did it develop later in life. I have noticed that, like my father, I have largely lost my sense of smell. But it came on so gradually that at first I did not notice. People started mentioning that they smelled something very strong and I smelled nothing. Every now and then I DO smell certain things but it is intermittant. Any way I am just curious if you have always had this affliction or it is set in gradually and when did you come to notice it.

      Looks like we’re going to have to publish a BOLD letter Edition of the Bible to supplement the red letter edition!

      1. I believe I was born with it. What is interesting is I dont really notice it. It is that I dont notice things. Red is used to bring your attention to things. I assume it must stand out to people but I dont see how it does. The colorblindness I have is red-green so both of these colors present a problem.

        Apparently a cardinal, the bird not the priest, stands out when perched in a green tree. People’s eyes must be drawn to this. I would not notice it. Often times hiking trails are marked with red paint or ribbons. This does not stand out to me. I used to have a work phone that had a red light when you had a message. I would not realize I had a message. Of course stop lights are a problem. I have to pay close attention to the light and rely on position as much as anything. Both red and green lights are a problem. The green lights are indistinguishable from a street light. I wore a lime green sweater for a few weeks because I thought it was beige.

        I do see red and green. I know grass is green. I know when a sports car is red. The problem is in identifying shades of those colors and seeing those colors when they are together or when they are mixed in with other colors. And more than I few times I’ve had people get frustrated trying to point something out to me based on its color. It is an interesting problem and sure makes you wonder about how an individual perceives things.

        The bold letter edition would be helpful! But to say that make me feel older than my age needing a special book to be able to see. Of course I’ve started to notice being like my dad in needing a flashlight in the middle of the day to be able to see some things.

  6. This is a much-needed post. It’s very true that the Web can disguise people well, and that people will say more hurtful things than they would face-to-face. I chuckled at the experience with the Italian girl you dated – I am half Italian and that side of my family can be like that. I’m a pretty laid-back person but if provoked, boy, do I have that Italian girl mouth!

    It is hard being civil when someone is being particularly nasty and it feels very personal. I’ve learned over the years that you can talk to some people and tell them where they are wrong until you are blue in the face and they won’t change. The best thing to do sometimes is just to ignore them – that makes them even angrier because you won’t respond to their stupidity but in the end, they are the ones looking bad for their behavior. It was a hard lesson for me to learn, because I do have a temper when it comes to people being nasty. I take offense to it very easily. I have always been somewhat jealous of people who just don’t let stuff like that get to them. My job has taught me to be civil – working in the ER I might have several people causing drama any given night. In Triage, they throw fits because someone sicker than them got a room before them. With some patients, you realize that they will hate you for being a medical professional no matter how nice you are and how good the care is, especially if they’ve had a bad experience at another hospital, or felt neglected somehow. With psych patients, if you yell back at them, it only riles them up more. I was taught from day one to always be civil no matter how nasty the patient is, but for some patients this was definitely a test for me.

    Great post as always! 🙂

    1. Yes, it is hard to be civil when others are nasty. Though in recent years I have had increasing grace in this department. I DO relly sse it as gift since my own sin-nature just wants to retaliate. But over the years, only as a gift, I have seen this decline steadily.

  7. Nathaniel –

    Slapped my hand to my forehead as I read your comment. Any suggestions other than bolding to help make postings clearer even if the reader has (red-green?) color blindness?

    Msgr., Your comments are timely and if implemented would contribute to the resumption of rational argument, which might hope to effect an actual change in thought and action. Instead, current “debate” seems limited to the hurling of verbal challenges to inflame passions, derail rational thought and justify one’s heated (but not always considered) prejudices.

    In this regard, I’ve found it edifying to watch Prime Minister’s questions on CSPAN. Passionately held opinions can be expressed with civil but cutting eloquence. This requires our alert attention, causing us to become participants and not simply bystanders in the arguments. I believe similar discourse was the rule in our own legislature before the intrusion of 24-hour news as entertainment.

    I suspect our legislators would relish some forum where sufficient time was allowed so that arguments of substance could be developed and heard by the public at large without worrying that those arguments would be edited into unintelligible sound bites. CSPAN seems close but doesn’t quite hit the mark. And addresses to unihabited chambers lack the intensity that a good exchange of ideas merit.

    1. Yes, I think when we have lost agreement on basic moral and cultural norms we are left increasingly to power struggle. Reasoning seems less and less possible. But try we must!

  8. This is not about civility. We restle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and evil spirits. This is about a direct attack against Jesus Christ and his church. See it for what it is. See clearly, Amen.

  9. Allow me to give an [extended] example of unbelievable language. These are comments that were made about Nancy Pelosi on one Catholic website. The choice of this example has nothing to do with blaming one side rather than the other. I submit it because I was struck by the amount of vitriol involved. Many of the people making these comments claim to have an intense prayer life. One wonders what it is about their faith that makes them so…the only word I can think of is “unhinged”. Why is their such a disconnect between the teachings of their faith and their actual behaviour? Each paragraph below represents the comments of a different person.

    – This woman is a profound grotesque…her stupidity, her mendacity,… this glammed-up guttersnipe…I am disgusted to see this woman…This video makes me want to vomit….What an abominable woman; what a power-mad, ruthless, mendacious grotesque she is….this astonishing display has me almost choking with disgust and rage….This goes beyond being a faulty human Catholic; it goes beyond being mistaken. It goes beyond “arguing in good faith.” What the Pelosi did today is a declaration that this woman is not averse to using methods of pure disorientation, to achieve her ends….I must scream a little more, and swallow back the bile, at the absolute horror she is become, and that she spews from her mouth.
    – We are looking at the face of evil here.
    – I could not bring myself or my stomach to watch that vile video. …I have long felt that she may have sold out and thus inadvertently given herself over to the dark power in her lust for power.
    – I think she’s senile.
    – She is cold and calculating and is propped up by a corporate media that echoes her lies.
    – I can’t and won’t watch that video as I like to keep a lid on my rage. All I can say is she is an effective tool of the devil as I too struggle with not being filled with outright hatred for the nutjob that she is and her attempt to destroy our Country and her purposeful and constant misleading of catholics. I try to pray for her but it is difficult at best.
    – There is pure evil afoot in our world and Nancy Pelosi is living (?) proof of it. May God have mercy on her immortal soul. I wish I could bring myself to pray for her, but it’s beyond the boundaries of my human kindness.
    – An evil delusional tool.
    – I have to change the television channel when she speaks…. I used to think she was just misguided; then I thought, she’s really a bit crazy; now I am looking at her and thinking, “Is this what diabolical really means?”
    – Pelosi is power hungry, evil woman. Willing to use the church or anyone else to pass her legislation for total power over the people. She may not have started out that way but she is today one of the most evil in Washington.
    – People like Pelosi claiming to be Catholic are just an abomination. I will pray for them with all my might when they ask forgiveness for what they did and said – but not today.
    – I think of her as evil. Pure evil.
    – There are moments (this is one of them) when I seriously think she is possessed.
    – She is a wicked, dishonest, corrupt, evil woman.
    – Some priest needs to try a long distance exorcism on her.
    – All I can say is – if and when we get into the next life, we won’t have to worry about meeting Nancy P there.
    – I am absolutely incensed that this crass, asinine, classless buffoon would dare to use St. Joseph in her liberal sin-laced fantasy world.
    – Pelosi is an appalling twisted creature, which would be one thing if she had no power. I pray we survive the plague smothering the life out of this nation. The praising of evil and the denouncing of the right and good –pure evil.

    1. Yes, It’s quite a litany.
      I would also add that I generally try to use proper titles when speaking of high officials eg. Speaker Pelosi, President Obama, Senator so and so. I got so tired of hear Bush this and Bush that! His proper reference was “Presidnet Bush” We are very dismissive of High Government Officials at times.

      1. Msgr Pope: your comment about my post — “Yes, it’s quite a litany” — is rather tepid. Unfortunately, this might lead some people to conclude that you’re praising by faint damn. I said “unfortunately” because I assume you agree that the language I quote is inexcusable.

      2. I don’t mean to sound tepid. What is quoted is way beyond waht is civil or appropriate. Although some of our commenters want to place them in context, I still don’t think that Mrs. Pelosi should be described in these ways. I think she is dead wrong about most things Catholic.and our repsonse to her can be firm but it should be civil and respectful.

        Sometimes I have to be quick with these remarks since I have a lot of them plus a parish to run.

      3. even if I were aware of the later retraction, it’s beside the point . . . Finally, by rushing in to defend the blogger, Bender succeeds in avoiding having to respond to the point I make

        No, the publicly stated regret and repentance are NOT beside the point. They ARE the point entirely. That IS the response to the point you make.

        The blogger stated that Pelosi “deserves my sympathy and my compassion and my prayer. I hope I can have yours.” Apparently, Archangel, you have rejected that and refuse her compassion or prayer.

        She later stated, “I am going to confession, too, for that piece I wrote on Pelosi.” I presume that she did so and that she has thus been forgiven her sins. That being said, here is my response, Archangel, to the point you make —

        If God has forgiven her, who am I to condemn her? And who are ANY OF US to continue to harp on it??

        THAT is my response.

    2. These comments are good as an exercise in detraction, Archangel, but it is too bad that you did not place the comments regarding Speaker Pelosi in context — namely, her use of St. Joseph to advocate for passage of ObamaCare, fraudulently calling it “life-affirming,” together with her use of the scandal of certain women religious who acted to divide the Church, but who have gained the thanks of Planned Parenthood, which said that passage of the bill was a “huge victory for women’s reproductive health” because it significantly increased insurance coverage of “reproductive health care, including family planning.”

      Also, while you are complaining here, I notice that you did not voice any objections yourself in the combox of that blog, at least not under the name “Archangel.”

      Moreover, in the interests of promoting civility, rather than just piously pointing fingers, perhaps you could explain why you chose not to include the follow-up posting from that blog, wherein the writer apologized for what she thought was going over the line, writing,
      I am a sinful woman . . . I think my anger at Nancy Pelosi’s using a Saint as a political prop was quite legitimate, and in fact I am still angry and offended by it. I am still disgusted by what I referred to (and still believe is) Pelosi’s “upside-down thinking.” But I over-vented. And I kind of knew I was over venting, as I acknowledged at the time:
      I am mindful of the fact that I too am a Catholic who -in my own way- can and do bring scandal to others. I understand that in my rage right now, I am probably “scandalizing” someone who thinks I should be “more tolerant of an opposing view” so I don’t particularly believe I am called to inventory the soul of another.
      My anger got the best of me,. I had too much fun writing dis-edifying words that can always be applied to my own self. Pelosi is a grotesque. But I am too. She is a glammed-up guttersnipe. But I’m also a guttersnipe, and not even a glammed-up one. Pelosi is pathetic. So am I. She deserves my sympathy and my compassion and my prayer.
      I hope I can have yours. . . .
      Earlier today a reader wrote asking my opinion as to whether she should go to confession over her feelings toward Pelosi and the whole congress. I wrote:
      Yes. Go to confession. I am going to confession, too, for that piece I wrote on Pelosi.

      Notwithstanding your assertion to the contrary, Archangel, you have presented only one side of the matter.

      1. And just to be clear, by “These comments are good as an exercise in detraction, Archangel . . .”, I mean that they are good as an exercise in detraction by Archangel.

      2. The comments by Bender are on the whole completely beside the point. Msgr Pope’s posting was about civility in debate. I quoted examples of uncivil remarks — insulting comments about Speaker Pelosi by 18 different people, all taken from one website — and asked the question: What is it about a certain way of living one’s faith that makes certain people act in a way that is so unchristian? I did not identify any of these people, as I am not interested in criticising them but in discussing a particular kind of language. But Bender, who knows which blog the quotes come from, rushes in to defend the blogger. That’s irrelevant, since my point is not about that blogger (and the other commenters) but about the language. Therefore, all of Bender’s points that refer to the blog are irrelevant. Specifically:

        (1) It’s not detraction if my criticism is addressed to the language and not the persons in question.

        (2) In an attempt to excuse the blogger, he takes me to task for not mentioning the context in which the blogger made the comments. This suggests that there are contexts in which the type of language I quoted is justified. My point is that such language is never justified, and so the context is irrelevant.

        (3) He asks me to explain why I did not point out that the original blogger later regretted the original comments. (This is once again an attempt to defend the blogger and not to address my question.) But there are two good answers. In the first place, I am not a regular reader of that blog (or of most other blogs) and so I am not aware of everything the blogger wrote. Secondly, even if I were aware of the later retraction, it’s beside the point since I am not interested in that blogger but in the type of language that was used.

        (4) Finally, by rushing in to defend the blogger, Bender succeeds in avoiding having to respond to the point I make, namely, that the type of language illustrated by the 18 quotes is inexcusable.

      3. Put down the rock Archangel.

        You are not without the sin you accuse others of.

  10. Archangel –

    Everyone who follows the Catholic/political blogs knows who you are talking about, and I, for one, agree with every word she said. Speaker Pelosi is a joke beyond jokes, and she is one lousy Catholic – now, I don’t know what’s in her heart, but her actions speak for themselves.

    Since Monsignor Pope would rather not have political debates on this site, and because I’m not eloquent enough to debate, anyway, I’m not going to get into it any further than this: the country is being dismantled by a group of radical, left-over hippies who have a sinecure in office – someone they can lead around by the nose to do their bidding.

    The Dems are in the process of creating yet anotherperpetual voting bloc; let’s see, they already have the seniors and their Social Security fear-mongering, they have the minorities through their patronization and fear-mongering, and now they are going after the rest of us by threatening health care – in one fell swoop they’ve done more to damage health care in the world than they’ve done to help it.

    Not to mention, every student about to enter college is going to get a real rude awakening come June when they no longer qualify for private loans, but are subject to the federal governments rationing of monies that will go to “diverse and minority” students. Yeah, makes a lot of sense to have that attached to a health care bill.

    So don’t sit there and wax on about some of us being unhinged. I, personally, am beyond unhinged and on the brink of an absolute come-apart. And guess what? I’m far from alone.

    As for respect for these people? They are shaming every office they hold, just as former President Clinton profaned the Oval Office. Do you listen to or read the horrible things the Dems say and do? I wonder how many Republicans have sent someone in office a dead fish wrapped in a newspaper…

  11. Rather Polly Ann-ish. The Church needs to stick to the teachings of Chirst, not politics. The two don’t go hand in hand. Give to Cesar what is Cesar’s and give to God what is God’s. Far to many priest, bihsops and nuns have crossed the line and misled the layity and betrayed their vows by mixing poiitics with the teachings of Christ. Salvation and preservation are contradictions and political discussions of limiting personal freedoms and redistribution of personal wealth are not for the Catholic Church to decide. Unless you care to side with Satan.

  12. the type of language illustrated by the 18 quotes is inexcusable

    I don’t speak for everyone, but that commenter language (which wasn’t all that bad) was nothing more than frustration run amok.

    I am sick to death of what is going on – harsh language is called for.

  13. One can disagree without being disagreeable. A person who grew to adulthood in the confusion, partly following Vatican II, but also following the broadcast dissents of various theologians to the encyclical Humanae Vitae (by Paul VI) might well believe that sex outside of marriage is no longer a sin, and by extension, anything to do with such sex (abortion?) is also no longer a sin.
    The continuing attacks on the reputation of Pius XII, stemming from a play published in 1963, where the playwright was too young to have served in WW II, have been carried forward by the “cafeteria catholics” who continue to have issues with the popes and the Church trying to stay with the traditional understanding of what sex is lawful. If they can persuade most of the world that the popes screwed up in one way or another, then they can claim to be Catholic but not follow the Church’s teachings on this issue. This is not intended as a defense for Speaker Pelosi, but it may help in understanding “where she is coming from.”
    It may also explain the current interest in the NY Times in perpetuating accusations against B. XVI.

  14. Please,

    Can somebody explain to me why it is OK for the government to force me into a system that I cannot afford? Yes, as a Christian, I ought to be charitable but doesn’t this charity mean that I do it on my own accord without being lead to the pool and then forced to drink? If I had more money in my pocket, I would give but as it is, when more is taken out by the government, I would have to consider that my charity because I would have nothing left to give after that.

    If people want universal health care, it should be an option not a mandate (ask people to donate money by way of taxes on their paychecks). I want to only give to Catholic hospitals, and now, I don’t think I will.

    Why do our Bishops want to work to see this end accomplished so much so that it lead the president of the USCCB to say in loose terms: Well, the passage of the bill is good because we have a starting point albeit the abortion language. We’ll just have to keep pushing for them to restrict funding.

    A natural right to eat does exist and as far as I know, the government is not taking money directly out of my paycheck forcing me to pay into a food bank; that is good. It would be great if it stayed that way too. My point is, health care is a right, but by no means should be mandated from the top down..especially by the government. Charity calls us to give, not the government. And being Christian means that we understand the role of the rich–or the well off. If we have and are selfish we end up like the Rich man in the parable of Lazarus and the Rich man. If we have enough and we do give, we end up being the Samaritans in the story of the Good Samaritan. No government necessary to make you do what you ought to do. The governments role is not one of the Church especially when its thinking is currently out of whack.



  15. When a discussion devolves into a war of insults, the initial topic often becomes obscured. If one is called a $*%**)# one becomes rather more focused on whether to call the other party a ##@$(** or a ^#@* than on articulating the bases for one’s position. One has no interest in putting any effort to understanding the other’s view.

    Certainly each blog/discussion forum has its own culture in terms of what topics and language are acceptable. Although one could choose not to participate on fora one finds objectionable, I believe that moderators still have responsibility to set and enforce reasonable parameters about appropriate behavior. Even free speech has its limits.

    One would do well to keep in mind that once one hits “submit” that one has no control over who sees what one’s typed. One would also do well to consider that one’s anonymnity is not as absolute as one would like to think. If one would be embarrassed if someone one admires were to see something one has typed, perhaps one should have second thoughts before clicking on that button.

  16. Perhaps as a footnote to all of this or possible as another stir of the pot 🙂 We got another expereince today about the name calling etc regarding helath care. Frank Rich in the New York Times informed us that those of us who opposed the bill did so because we were: Racist, sexist and homophobic. Racist because we stood against our president, who by the way is Black, sexist because we stood against Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who by the way is a woman, and homophobic because Barney Frank was a big supporter of the bill, who by the way is Gay. ???? It was interesting for me to be informed of my true motives. I was unware that these ugly motives were in me and I suppose I should be grateful to Frank Rich for calling them to my attention. You see all the time I just thought I was being a Catholic and opposed it because of the abortion provisions and concerns with subsidiarity. I didn’t really know that all along I was really being a big stupid jerk. Oh what a wretch am I !

    1. LOL! Thank you, Msgr! It’s times like this when I want to lash back, when I think not to do so would be a sign of weakness. But your way is a much better way.

    2. Not unlike hearing from my daughter that I am a Mean Mommy Who Doesn’t Love Her Child when I say “no.”

  17. Jesus was typically Jewish in a lot of ways, but none more so than in his love of a good sturdy argument. This the Jews share with the other Mediterranean peoples. Note that the Italian name for what you saw is *discuzzione*, which covers the scope of both English “discussion” and “argument”. What happens in these does not, in general, constitute the sin of wrath: rather the view is that if you are not willing to express the feelings behind your position in full strength, then your grasp on your position can’t be worth much. Not for Jews or Italians or Greeks (in general; of course there are always individual exceptions) the idea of silent faith.

  18. Paper crafts had been seriously popular for some time now. Most children begin crafting paper crafts in school. The teachers usually start the kid out with quite simple paper crafting projects. This usually involves giving the kid a number of color options and as well several styles of building paper to work with. Most teachers typically provide kid many tips to start with, but each child is encouraged to show their own creative imagination on their own crafting paper project.This type of disciplines and crafts can be incredibly stimulating for adults. Several, use the paper crafting material for decorations, by placing all of them in a present container or even utilizing all of them as gift wrap. While some use them for an American favorite pastime known as scrapbook.Creating a scrapbook can be quite exciting when you let your creativeness run crazy! This form of paper crafting is very easy to perform because you won’t have to stick to a specific pattern. The main idea behind keeping a scrapbook may be to keep a journal of your life or things that you like and present all of them in the arts and crafts form. The other idea is to display your feelings, thoughts, and emotions without making an individual word of text, but only using paper and images on paper.Paper crafts will also be easily changed to suit any kind of holiday theme. as an example for holiday seasons like St. Valentine’s Day, one may be encouraged to be able to make Valentine’s to pass around to buddies or loved ones. On St. Patrick’s Day one might be encouraged to create paper crafts which are the color green. So, for the next holiday break it doesn’t matter what it may be, wouldn’t it be good to utilize paper crafts as your next crafting idea?Finally there exists origami. The idea behind this craft is to take paper and place it in the shape of animals. This is a very beautiful art that can be traced back many centuries. Typically the origami can be done in numerous forms, sizes, and colors. Each one of these attributes could be changed by simply changing the type of paper used. Paper crafts are only limited by your creativity, which makes them one of the best craft ideas.

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