Monday, July 13, 2009

I'm Going Outside, Mother

Blogging Burn Out or so it seems. I'm not reading much these days and my posting has been little as far as content goes these days. Besides, it's hot here in Santa Fe these days, and I don't think they'd let me move into Starbucks for the AC. I've been escaping from the heat by going for an Iced Venti Chai and writing (or trying to write) for an hour or so in the cool, refreshing land of refrigerated air.

So, here I am outside in my backyard (thank God we have no humidity in New Mexico), and I just spent the evening reading some of Fr. James Martin's newest posts over at America.

The Mysteries of Childhood made me think about my own childhood back in the mid-to-late 70s and how innocent and easy it all seemed. My mom stayed home, I grew up a neighborhood with a whole bunch of kids and our parents would late us play in the cul-de-sac till it got dark. We actually played. None of us had video games or any of the stuff kids have now. None of us were latch-key kids, though my generation was the first for that. We all had married parents, we were all Cathol ic and our experiences were all pretty much alike. It's funny, now that my friends have kids, their children's childhoods are/were so different. I really could relate to Fr. Martin's perspective in the article.

Then I read a piece he wrote criticizing an article in the New Yorker about Nuns. I don't have a subscription to the New Yorker so I couldn't read it all, but the snippet Fr. Martin posted was enough to leave a bad taste in my mouth. I then followed his links in the article and read a piece he wrote several years ago about Anti-Catholicism.

For me, Anti-Catholicism was something I never experienced on a personal level. I was never ridiculed for being Catholic. I had some misguided attempts to be converted or saved by family members or friends who left the church, but they were never nasty about it.

I learned about places where Anti-Catholicism was prevelant in my history classes, but it was always distant, far from my own experience. As I said, everyone I knew was Catholic, my hometown is historically Catholic and so, no one ever dared to preach intolerance or hate against Catholics here. Now, you find some churches, pastors and others preaching certain messages. But I never knew it existed before till I hopped on the Internet and in my wanderings stumbled upon it. I think I've said this here before, but still, it astonishes me how it is acceptiable to pick on Catholics.

I really hate the protrayals of our religious and priests in TV/Movies and Books. And the thing is, if you find a positive portrayal of say a priest in a novel or a movie, someone is always looking for a scandal. As a writer, and looking back on my fiction, I've noticed that it's highly Catholic or heavily influenced by my Catholic upbringing. Not all my characters are "good, practicing Catholics" but they're Catholic by culture, history, tradition and experiences. I probably am writing to a limited audience, but hopefully an audience who can appreciate my take on the faith. And my priest character, sad to say, is happy, well-adjusted and won't get caught up in any kind of scandal.

Anyway, I will say again how much I enjoy Fr. Martin's writings and his thoughts over at America.

There are still a few Novena posts I want to finish and if anyone is interested I'll still post the slideshow I still intend on putting together.


Jeff said...

Nice pony ride in the background. :)

Another great photo, from your dad I presume? He had a way with a camera. He had a way of making these 70s shots look like something much older, as if they were from the 30s or the 40s. Not just because of the black-and-white, either. He just had a sort of touch.

We live in the same house I grew up in, and my kids go to the same schools I did, but in a lot of ways their lives are very different. When I was a kid we were outside all day long and would only come back when my mother literally rang a bell for dinner. We spent a good part of our day in the woods. I wouldn't dream of letting my kids play all day in the woods now, not least of the reasons being Lyme Disease, which about half of them have already had.

I also lived in a more mixed area, and went to public schools. Anti-Catholicism isn't very new to me. I heard it even when I was very young, plus here in Boston, where we had the legacy of "No dogs and Irish need apply" to still digest, deal with, and get over, we've always been prickly about it. Sometimes I think my wife and my brothers-in-law, who went to Catholic schools all their lives in Upstate New York, and were sheltered from a lot of this, are very naive about the extent of it. It sure gets tiring, I agree. Great post.

Maria said...

Thanks Jeff.

Yes, my dad took the picture. He had an old Roloflex camera and really did/does have a good eye. I remember growing up he always had his camera handy. I'm glad for that, there are lots and lots of cherished memories, many yet to scan into the computer.

I feel like my childhood was very idyllic but I'd worry if I had children to raise now a days. (I still hope to have at least one child someday soon) but I know if I have a child he or she will have a very different life than I.

I attended public school, then Catholic high school (7-12) and it's true, everyone I knew I was Catholic.

Lately, I've seen letters to the editor with a more secular humanist, anti-religion pov, complaining about local news mostly. I think it's a trend everywhere but it's odd to see them pop up in the paper.

On occasion we'd have church groups protest something here and there, pass out leaflets that taught about being saved and such, but nothing like what you lived with. I can't imagine someone having a sign here saying "No Spanish or Catholic" need apply.

Jeff said...

Those "No Irish need appy" days are long, lone gone, but we stil have a bit of a chip on our shoulders about that. Some of us still need to work on that and get over it. Among Anglos, isn't there a bit of anti-Hispanic bias in the Southwest based at last partly on religion?

Maria said...

It's good those days are long gone.

Here, I've noticed a new trend in some anti-Hispanic bias emerging. I remember growing up, often the Anglo kids felt like the odd ones out, but it's changed in that there are now more Anglos living here, not by much. The editorial pages and local news forums are good places to see it.

There is also tension between the old time Hispanics and the incoming immigrants from Latin America. Sadly my grandmother had a prejudice toward Mexicans.

I've noticed a lot of backlash against any kind of religion popping up, but a lot of it is directed toward Catholics too. :(