Regular readers know that I’m not really a confessional blogger. I don’t talk about my personal life or use this is space as a kind of public diary. So, in the interest of slightly correcting that, I’m using Jen’s 7 Quick Takes format to share 7 things about me, personally.
During the period when I was lapsed, I took part in a pagan naming ritual for a friend’s baby.
It’s not something I’d do today (nor, I think, would the friend), but we entered into the spirit of the event and felt honored to be included. Well, honored and faintly embarrassed. I don’t know how pagans do even half of what they do without dissolving into giggles. Since I was functionally (though not actually) pagan myself at the point, it really wasn’t that much of a stretch.
I have had mystical experiences, and have spent much of my adult life trying to understand them. My time in the spiritual wilderness was an attempt to make sense of these experiences from outside the faith of my childhood. Only upon returning to the Church did I realize that the fullness of truth and the answers to my questions were here all along. I do not write about these experiences because they lay beyond words, and I feel they should stay there. They have, however, removed any doubt whatsoever about the existence of God and the invisible world of mystery and magnificence that surrounds us.
I do not regret my time in the wilderness immersed in (at various times) Neoplatonism, agnosticism, gnosticism, Jung, shamanism, and general New Agey foolishness. It broadened my perspective and gave me an infallible BS detector that serves me well in my role as a Catechist and Catholic writer.
My natural tendency is toward uncharity and nastiness. I made a career of it as a reviewer who was known for being cutting. (One author knocked me out of a chair at a convention of horror writers. Another sent me gay pornography in the mail. A company refused to pay one of my magazines $15,000 they owed for ads because of something I’d written. And so on.)
I know I hurt people under the cover of “Just being honest” or “Just doing my job.” Since I began blogging, I’ve made an effort not to do that, but it is a mighty struggle. I still read people and think, “What a frigging idiot.” That the person actually IS a frigging idiot isn’t the point. The point is: he’s also human, and thus deserving of at least a measure of charity. I’m not naturally inclined to dole out that kind of charity, so it’s a struggle to read certain people without drawing a bead on them and unleashing a stream of withering contempt. I’m still working on that one.
I consider myself a traditionalist and, indeed, a medievalist, but much of old-school Marian piety leaves me cold. I’ve made valiant attempts to fall in love with the Rosary, with middling results. My commitment to the 54-Day Rosary Novena seemed like a Herculean task at times. The first thing I had to do was strip away the cloying verbiage slathered all over the devotion like inch-thick icing on a cake made entirely of fondant:
Hail, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, my Mother Mary, hail! At thy feet I humbly kneel to offer thee a Crown of Roses, snow white buds to remind thee of thy joys!, each bud recalling to thee a holy mystery; each ten bound together with my petition for a particular grace. O Holy Queen, dispenser of God’s graces, and Mother of all who invoke thee! thou canst not look upon my gift and fail to see its binding. As thou receivest my gift, so wilt thou receive my petition; from thy bounty thou wilt give me the favor I so earnestly and trustingly seek. I despair of nothing that I ask of thee. Show thyself my Mother!
Who writes this stuff? Why does so much Marian art and devotion look and sound like it sprang from the mind of a fifteen-year-old 18th century French girl?
St Louis de Montfort makes my teeth hurt. I’ve never really cared about the dreaded secrets of Fatima, and I think Medjugorje was a hoax. My primary personal devotion is the Liturgy of the Hours and daily readings. This is not to downplay the role of the Blessed Mother in my prayer life (I pray the Angelus every day), but few of the devotions as they’ve developed really speak to me. I understand some of this is my own failing.
I still listen to 1970s/80s heavy metal music from time to time, and I’m not ashamed.