Gung-ho

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Most serious Catholics have had this experience:  all on fire for some bracing, difficult truth that seems central to our lives, we march forward in a fine, fervent frenzy, and rip a new asshole for everyone in the room — in service of the truth.  Because, as it says in scripture, “The Lord thy God wants you to rip everyone a new asshole.”

The problem with this approach is twofold:

(1)  People are generally not much swayed by the, “Listen up, jerkwad, and I’ll teach you something” approach.

(2) The truth takes a while to sink in.  Not into them, but into you:  just because you think you know something, that doesn’t mean you really know it.  Or, it doesn’t mean you know what to DO with the truth.

And so, for instance, gung-ho and ablaze with the information that we should be open to life, an obnoxious twentysomething brandishing her NFP manual in its original wrapper may think she has something to say to a crowd of grizzled old matrons.  She may think she’s stirring up a righteous flame in some old, moldering cinders by proclaiming the truth about what it means to be truly generous, truly compliant to the will of God.  She may think she’s doing some good (and looking pretty swell in the process!).  But more likely than not, she just doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

Either she’s flat-out wrong, and just hasn’t got the habit of fact-checking yet; or else it turns out that life is a little more complicated than it seems when you’re an obnoxious twentysomething.

Just so you don’t think I’m lecturing you (and I had the idea for this post long before the “Why doesn’t the Church just make a list” discussion), I’ll share one of my most cringe-worthy example of some misguided gung-hoery.  This happened about ten years ago:

At Christmas every year, the local newspaper would print sob stories about needy families, to solicit donations so that unlucky folks could have a nice holiday for a change.  You know:  little Johnny is waiting for a liver transplant, and is hoping to collect 100 teddy bears; elderly Mrs. Smith is raising her grandchildren and would love to give the little tykes a pair of rollerblades and a new Xbox.

One year, they printed a little blurb about a young couple — a man and his perpetual “fiancee” –expecting their second child.  There were some problems, I forget what:  unemployment, disability, threatened eviction.  They weren’t asking much — just wanted to have a nice Christmas for their son, and maybe find a few baby items for the little one on the way.

So I got a brilliant idea.  I wrote to the editor and, in the boldest and most stirring terms imaginable, exhorted this wretched couple to offer the finest gift a mother and dad ever could to their offspring:  to get married.  I plugged in a few handy statistics about the relative happiness, educational and vocational chances, and dental health of the child of married parents.  I urged them to do what I knew was really in their hearts:  to take the leap, tie the knot, make it real.  I offered to pay for their marriage license, “and,” I concluded grandly, “I will even throw in a bottle of champagne.”

So, they took me up on it.  They came to our apartment.  They did want to get married, it turned out — they had just never had the chance, or something.  But, well, hmm.  As it turned out, the boyfriend had been married before.  In the Church.  Might he get an annulment?  Well, technically he was actually still married.  He was planning to get a divorce, but the mother wanted custody of the son, and there was also some complication about a warrant for his arrest  . . .

Well, I ended up buying the girlfriend some maternity shirts, and a couple of toys for the little kid.  I think they had to take a taxi to our house, too, but I was too embarrassed to offer to pay their fare.  The conversation was . . . a little awkward.  And now that I think of it, I’m pretty sure I bought her the wrong size shirt.  So, all in all, I believe the general message that this lucky couple got from Super Catholic me was:  “Merry Christmas, and here [rrrrrip] is your new asshole.  Now get out of my holy, marital house, jerkwads.”

So you see, the moral of this story is:  don’t be fancy.  Don’t be smart.  Do things the regular way, like by praying, being nice, and donating money to charities that know what they are doing.   If the Holy Spirit wants you to do something really spectacular, He’ll probably make it almost impossible for you to avoid it.  Remember Jonah?  Gulp.

So, good people?  How about you?  When’s the last time you shot your mouth off in the service of Truth, Justice, and the Magesterial Way, and got showed up for the know-nothing numb-nut you really are?

Or is it just me?

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  • http://nodaisies.blogspot.com/ Mary Beth

    oy.

    Okay, I’ll admit to first seeing a bunch of current twenty-somethings all over this (since I parent(ed) some of them)

    But, I don’t have to work hard to find myself, 20 years ago, full of knowledge, but very little Wisdom (hey, what about that whole Confirmation business where I was supposed to get Wisdom all wrapped up in a nice pretty package? hey!)

    I think I may remember telling my father what he should have done to stop all of my older siblings from leaving the church.

    I need to go call Dad. . .

  • http://www.clan-donaldson.com Cari

    I shoot my stupid mouth off all the time.

    My favorite one, though, was when I famously shot my mouth off in the service of Moral Relativism, the Culture of Death, and the “I Get To Pick My Own Way”-way.

    After the sex-abuse scandal first broke, I remember watching coverage on it with a self-righteous eye, and saying (repeatedly, since it seemed such a clever remark), “The Catholic Church will crumble under its own bloated weight. With a little luck, it’ll happen in my lifetime.”

    Less than three years later, I entered that same Church at Easter Vigil.

    Then I tried really, really hard not to become one of those annoying, Holier-Than-Thou converts.

    • http://stmonicasbridge.wordpress.com Kristen

      Cari, your comment hits on what occurred in my mind right away. A few years ago a good friend of mine was an RCIA sponsor and the catechuman she was sponsoring was extremely gung-ho. Extremely. I remember her on a regular basis giving me back-handed compliments because I was a cradle Catholic and even critiquing how both my friend (her sponsor) and myself observed things like confession and fasting during Lent. She was convinced that the path to heaven was paved with complete abstinance from meat the entire Lenten season including Sundays, Solemnities, whatever; adding five Rosaries into her day, praying the Angelus every six hours on the hour and…well you get the idea. While her excitement was great her zeal and the judgment that accompanied it was well, decidedly less appealing. I’ve seen this in some cradle Catholics as well but my friend, who has been a sponsor in RCIA for several years, said she sees it quite often in converts and her method for trying to channel that, uh, enthusiasm, was to do exactly what Simcha said Do things the regular way, like by praying, being nice…. Amazing how now that same woman is still Catholic but is decidedly less loud-mouthed and more comtemplative in her assertions.

  • http://randommusingsbycliff.blogspot.com cliff

    No, it isn’t just you.

  • http://cathyadamkiewicz.blogspot.com Cathy

    Great post. Now to share it with my a-hole ripping twenty-something daughters (who take after their mom.)

    • Rachel

      Thanks a lot mom.

  • http://momscwot.blogspot.com/;http://letthemeatsyrup.blogspot.com Christy

    I need to learn how to embroider so that I can stitch this onto a decorative holiday pillow: ”Merry Christmas, and here [rrrrrip] is your new asshole. Now get out of my holy, marital house, jerkwads.”

    • http://todayagain-mamamidwife.blogspot/ MamaMidwife

      LOL! I second that!

    • http://www.prayersforjosie.wordpress.com jeni

      haha, I want one please!

  • Eileen

    This story made me giggle. As I approach menopause, I have found more and more that I just don’t take things as seriously anymore. Life’s just not as black and white as I thought it was when I was younger.

  • Curmudgeon

    Ah, yes. I get this from newbies often enough. Who show up at the parish and assume that since I have a conscious memory of the sixties (Quick! Name the Monkees! OK, you’re one of THEM!) that I must be thoroughly heterodox and ready to lead everyone in the RCIA group and all the children in the parish to perdition because that is just what we do.

    Usually, they simmer down after a few months. And I hope, hope, hope figure out that you can believe and not be an insufferable jerk.

    Although, I fear sometimes, they are going to need to go some place other than by my side to completely find that out.

  • http://godfamilybaseball.blogspot.com Sandy C.

    I vaguely remember being a gung-ho Evangelical Protestant 30-something who decided her mission was to recruit all the women in her church whose husbands were “unsaved” to gather together to pray and fast for said men. In particular, I remember one conversation with a woman whose husband was Catholic and attended mass faithfully with his mother. I promised to pray for his soul. I sheepishly remember my pompous holier-than-thou attitude when I occasionally run into him and his mother at mass.

    I’m also joining the Catholic Church this Easter Vigil, with my husband who first became an Evangelical 11 years ago, not at all due to my prayers and fasting but to the grace of God. Thanks be to God that same grace has led us all the way to Rome. (Trying not to be too gung-ho about it, though. Heh heh.)

  • http://www.dariasockey.blogspot Daria

    Thanks to what must be incipient Alzheimers, my memories of my twenty-something twerpiness are vague. But was for a time the annoying girl who thought it was cute in those days to say that NFP stood for “No Faith in Providence.”

  • Mouse

    Oh, thank God.

    I always thought I was being too quiet by being “nice”.

    I guess I was an early bloomer, because my lecturing days occurred before twenty, and not after.

    I always felt awkward around gung-ho Catholics because I wasn’t “in your face” about stuff. I just figured that if I was quiet and happy and stuff, I was fulfilling the whole “see how these Christians love one another” bit. And then I’d be around other gung-ho Catholics who were fervent about everything from microwaves to mung beans to NFP and I’d feel inferior for not being more “committed.”

    Thanks again for the insight, Simcha. I kinda wish I had a big sister like you.

    • Greg C

      … that’s really close to my own experience. I’m surrounded by a lot of great, loving Catholics – but for the longest time their apparent constance, passion and boldness seemed to overshadowed me.

      It wasn’t until recently that it began to sink-in that it’s possible to be committed without being so loud all the time about it. Honestly, I think being so gung-ho is often really as unnatural for other people as it seems.

      Since this is my first comment on your blog, I might as well say: Simcha, you and the Jerk’s posts have helped me become a more mature Catholic AND more sane! Seriously. Thank you.

      I only wish I’d come across your blog sooner.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/simchafisher Simcha Fisher

        Ha – thanks! Keep reading, and you’ll wish you’d left sooner.

        • Greg C

          ha! been reading since the summer, and haven’t been repulsed yet. Really though, for years I tried to be the perfect amalgam of Mother Teresa, St. Francis, and St. Thomas Aquinas (thinking, of course, that no one knew the Lord like I did – and if I could only convert everyone by my radical holiness..) – only, of course, to wind up deeply nervous, self-tortured, and burnt-out after doing a lot of spiritual/psych damage to my self and others. Not to mention time lost that could have been spent maturing and deepening meaningful relationships.

          Sorry – I don’t mean to grub for attention – it’s just, this blog has really helped me recover and readjust after a few years in crazy-land. Authenticity still has that delicious new-life smell to it for me.

  • Ima

    Your readers will understand when they hear that you are the daughter of the infamous author of “How I Wrecked Two Parish Ministries.” (It was published in Inside Catholic if I remember correctly). The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree.

  • http://ayoungmomsmusings.blogspot.com/ Young Mom

    O man. I grew up in a whole family like this, and I was very very good at ripping people apart in the name of God. We had like direct access to the Holy Spirit and knew all things. And if everyone was just as close to God as we were, they would have come to the same conclusion we did, so obviously most people did not really know the Lord.

    I have so many examples swirling in my head that I can’t articulate right now. I’ll just say that I still struggle with this reaction to people, only now it’s not the urge to attack people that aren’t “holy” enough, instead I want to tear apart people who think they have it all figured out, they have the answer book, and it is their agenda (oops, I mean conviction!) to make everyone else conform to their idea of true religion.

  • http://pursuingparenthood.blogspot.com Lisa

    Awesome! I was this person for probably the first half of my 9-year professional career, in which I was the family life coordinator for our diocese. I was right out of college, on fire for the Church and ready to tell anyone and everyone that if they just live their life THIS WAY, then everything would be peachy-keen. And then I became an FCP in the Creighton Model, saw a couple dozen clients, and realized that real life tends to throw a bunch of things at real people that don’t fit within my neat guidelines for perfection in Catholic Family Life. I still think people would be better off doing things THIS WAY, but I realize that people have to get there on their own, I’m just a (weak) instrument that God may or may not use to communicate part of His plan, and I leave the rest up to Him. I eventually got married myself, DIDN’T have a baby, ventured down the adoption path and learned a lot more about how life isn’t as scripted as I’d like. Now I cringe to hear the know-it-all 20-somethings preach at ME and realize that I was once one of them.

  • http://sweetridgesisters.wordpress.com/ Kate

    When I was a precocious 9 year old who regularly read the stacks of ultra conservative magazines donated to my journalist father by elderly priests, I came upon an article in the Human Life Review discussing the horrors of makeup containing the ground remains of aborted fetuses. I was filled with the fire of righteous horror and indignation. I was also deeply ignorant about makeup. My mother was a back to the lander who did not even believe in hand lotion unless it was a strange oily homemade substance. I on the other hand was fascinated by the idea of makeup, and would take charred wood remnants that fell from the woodstove and hide in the basement, creating cleopatra eyes. Perhaps it was the guilt of my own shallow desire to wear makeup that propelled me to create homemade flyers to distribute around the neighborhood to enlighten others about the baby killing underbelly of the makeup industry. I even went so far as to gather all the scavenged ancient lipsticks that my grandmother had given me, perhaps for a bonfire, later. I planned to collect the makeup of the souls I converted along the way. Oh- did I mention that we lived in the middle of the country, across from our Catholic church, in a solidly German catholic rural area? The first and indeed only house in the near vicinity belonged to our next door neighbor, a fellow parishioner who at that point was pregnant with the fifth of what would eventually be nine children. A makeup wearer. I was sure she would thank me for helping her understand the horror of the situation. Instead, she very rightly read me the riot act and sent me home with the stern injunction to do more research on my next mission. I still remember the taste of shame and humiliation. Although it did not entirely save me from the fires of righteous indignation, it was a lesson that has stayed with me in a painfully vivid manner.

    • JMB

      LOL

  • http://www.soulpockets.blogspot.com/ Kelly

    Love this post, love your blog!

  • dan

    since it’s so common, it must be a normal stage of development. does anybody get to skip that humiliation?

    • Chris

      Don’t we wish. Just thinking about my own . . . moments . . . makes my cheeks flame.

  • Colet

    How much do I love you for using the word ‘asshole’ with such clarity, such vision, such perfection?

    • elizabeth

      Yes, I too, want to count the ways.

  • ER

    I thought I was living it right when I engaged at 19 and married at 21. I mean, we were both faithful Catholics and surely we would raise a holy, holy family, right? Surely we would be rewarded since we didn’t go to bars or clubs but hung out at our parents’ houses or with the Catholic Studies Club. We’d be oh so happy. That’s how it works, right? Oh, and we had incense at our wedding that that gives us bonus points, too, huh? *rolls eyes*

    My own righteousness bit me in the butt with that one. I could have used a bit more practicality.

    OTOH when my sister got engaged and married at 25 she began to live with her fiance. Apparently the priest told them it wasn’t the address that mattered but what they did under that roof. I still think that’s terrible advice but what I can understand now is that even though she did it in a way that wasn’t helpful to her or her now husband, she took her entrance in to marriage even more seriously than I did. (Pretty sure they were living together to see if it was a good “fit”.)

  • http://crypticstar.wordpress.com crypticstar

    Awesome post. A much-needed reminder for humility (like I can ever get enough reminders…).

  • Marian Philomena Gianna Elizabeth

    Lawsy mercy, YES! Too many instances to count.

    Great sentence from Lisa:

    “I still think people would be better off doing things THIS WAY, but I realize that people have to get there on their own, I’m just a (weak) instrument that God may or may not use to communicate part of His plan, and I leave the rest up to Him. ”

    Must get better at this….

  • http://grace-filled.net jen

    The prayer, “God keep your arm on my shoulder and your hand on my mouth” should apply to me… frequently.

  • annon

    hilarious! Thanks for sharing your personal story – I think that is the funniest blog post I have ever read….thanks

  • Jen

    Oh, LOL!

  • http://lydiapurpuraria.wordpress.com lydiacubbedge

    I’d mention some real doozies of self-righteousness in the name of converting people, but I’m getting that really uncomfortable sweaty feeling that happens when these moments pop into your head right before you fall asleep at night. So no, you’re not alone in this.

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  • http://allepsalite.blogspot.com JaneC

    Oh, I think I got most of my self-righteous over-zealousness over with before I even hit 20. Mostly. I put my foot in my mouth a few weeks ago, though, with a little assistance from my husband. My husband is the organist at our parish. He reported to me that the women in the choir for the Spanish Mass had been told not to wear mantillas anymore. I assumed they had been told by the zealously ’70s-loving music director, who was therefore impinging on their rights as Catholic women to choose to cover their heads. I made an offhand comment to the director of Hispanic Ministry…only to be corrected by her, that SHE asked the choir ladies not to wear mantillas anymore because the women had been buying themselves matching mantillas in liturgical colors. Purple, green, red…not quite in the spirit of things, and fairly distracting.

  • Karl

    It’s just you.

  • Rose

    Am I the only reader who finds all the talk of “obnoxious twentysomethings” off-putting? If not downright condescending? I’ve got to say, for all the tolerance and understanding you’ve acquired in your “grizzled old matron” years, to me you sound somewhat… intolerant. Maybe even judgy?

    The main thrust of your article is a good one. But if you really do want to get through to people (especially the twentysomethings who, to your mind, really need to hear it), perhaps you should refrain from repeatedly belittling them.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/simchafisher Simcha Fisher

      Well, since my example, and almost everyone else’s, were embarrassing stories about our own behavior . . . no, I wouldn’t say it was intolerant, judgy, or condescending.

      This post wasn’t aimed at twentysomethings at all (who are not my main target audience); it’s aimed at older readers. The idea isn’t “You younguns need to avoid these mistakes” — it was “We slightlyolderuns need to have patience, because we were young and stupid once, too, remember?”

      • Rose

        Sorry, I don’t remember the article mentioning how the “slightlyolderuns need to have patience” (I’m assuming with the obnoxious younguns?). And yes, you did tell a story about your own behavior, in a “when I was (obnoxiously) young I did this but NOW I’m so much older and humbler” kind of way. That’s true. But some of what you said was still at the expense of your non-target audience.

        I’m just saying, let your good point be a good point. And don’t muddy the waters/drive-people-away by flinging about insults. Sure, you sound like there are things you would change about your twentysomething self. Who wouldn’t? But if you want to use yourself as an example (which you’re more than allowed to do!) let it be about yourself, and not an entire demographic. Your point is for all ages and peoples (personally, I’ve met with at least as many judgmental elders as younguns), and it is a really good point!

        I’m not trying to get anyone’s panties in a bundle. Just sticking up for the younguns…

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/simchafisher Simcha Fisher

          Okey doke, thanks for the tip.

          • Karen

            I am 26, I loved this and I even sent it to my fellow getting-over-obnoxiousness 20-something friends and husband…

          • Rose

            Aw, shoot. I got pretty snarky with my last comment. Sorry, Simcha. Am unbunching OWN panties.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/simchafisher Simcha Fisher

            Well, thanks, Rose! I write at least two regrettable comments for each useful (or neutral!) one, and I’m THIRTY SIX, so don’t sweat it.

        • http://www.prayersforjosie.wordpress.com jeni

          “I’ve met with at least as many judgmental elders as younguns”

          Amen Sista Rose. I take the 20-somethings thing with a grain of salt. At 25 I’ve already been the victim of all different-aged-persons passing terrible and misguided judgement my way. I guess the longer you’re around the more you see it happen. I think the point though is less the age and more the experience and wisdom level.

          Simcha, I didn’t take it personally; it does lend itself to that sort of argument, but I could distinguish that wasn’t the point. So regardless, great post as always. I am always thankful to have found your blog. You’re the only blogger I follow that shares both my views AND my strange sense of humor.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/simchafisher Simcha Fisher

            Yes, thank you, it certainly wasn’t the point. What a good reader you are for someone your age! (See, Rose? THAT was condescending.)

            I’m sure when I’m 45, I’ll be writing about how awful I was in my 30′s.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/simchafisher Simcha Fisher

            Jeni, I hope you know the “What a good reader you are” was supposed to be a joke! Thanks for helping to clear this up.

          • http://www.prayersforjosie.wordpress.com jeni

            haha, now that’s funny… I interpreted it that way. No worries. ;)

        • RK

          Rose, I didn’t see that as a point of the post at all, and I’m 25. I think you might be trying a little hard to take it that way.

          Older people can be judge-y too, sure. I think this story was more about a youthful enthusiasm kind of judge-y, which can extend to older generations, but is more concentrated among those who are new and excited, per se.

          And no, Simcha, you are not the only one. Trying not to think of mine ’cause I don’t feel like burning with shame at the moment. I feel like having children sped up the frequency of these foot-in-mouth moments.

    • http://ayoungmomsmusings.blogspot.com/ Young Mom

      I am a 20-something, and I have definetly been obnoxious. I was a million times worse in my teens, but I still have my moments even today. I hope people keep being patient with me.

      I just have to add, that I find middle aged people amusing as well. I can’t count the amount of 30-40 year olds I’ve heard bragging about their parenting and giving out parenting advice on teenager’s because they have a 13 year old now and all is well so they must be succeeding. And then a few years later all hell breaks loose and all they can do is blame it all on their child’s “rebellion” because it certainly could never be their perfect parenting that went wrong!!

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/simchafisher Simcha Fisher

        I know, I know. I would look forward to the day when I can stop thinking, “Oh, I was so STUPID last year!” but then I’ll be dead.

        • http://ayoungmomsmusings.blogspot.com/ Young Mom

          ” I would look forward to the day when I can stop thinking, “Oh, I was so STUPID last year!” but then I’ll be dead.”

          For real! I know! Every time I think I’ve got it figured out I prove myself horribly embarrassingly WRONG. :)

          That’s why this 20-something wasn’t offended at all.

      • Jen

        I’m a 20-something and I did not find this article the least bit offensive or condescending or annoying. This said, I think Simcha (and every other blogger) has the perfect freedom to write how she sees and feels it. If 20-somethings feel obnoxious at a certain time and in a certain situation… why not say so?! Heck, 20-somethings even feel obnoxious to me sometimes and I am one (so is my husband, teehee!)

        The goal (it seemed to me) was to tell a story and make a point. Do you realize how poorly this would read as a story if it had lines like, “Oh, and by obnoxious 20-somethings I am not meaning to includes everyone… at least not EVERYone… just the obnoxious ones who are in their 20′s. Naturally I know that people in their 30′s, 40′s, 50′s, etc. can be obnoxious, too. And that everyone can be non-obnoxious. Even the same obnoxious people can, in other situations or at other times of their lives, be non-obnoxious. I am in no way, then, seeking to lable you or your age group as inherently obnoxious….” I could go on but I’m sure no one is reading anymore.

        Anyone who has been following Simcha’s blog for even a moderate period of time can, I’m sure, read between the lines and recognize that Simcha makes a noble effort to think outside the box, avoid generalizations, and give opinions a fair shake. Let’s not jump on her for one little phrase taken out of context. Sheesh.

        • http://downrightdomesticity.blogspot.com Maria D. @ Downright Domesticity

          Hear, hear! I’m 24, and thought this post was hilarious! If we young’un readers aren’t offended by this post, then other people shouldn’t have to get all offended for us. :-P Well, now I know which blog all the COOL twenty-somethings hang out at!

    • J H

      I think “judgy” is supposed to be spelled with an “e” judge-y…

      The funny thing is, in Rose’s attempt to sound, like, all mature, she doesn’t realize that words like “intolerant” don’t hold the same scariness as it does to younger generations where “intolerance” means “prejudice” or “jew haters” or “leper” – things that are really bad.

      And, the scene she described reminds me of the way that an older dog can’t stand puppies. Have you see an old curmudgeon trying to take his afternoon snooze and a pile of puppies attack it, biting its tail, his ears, ramming their little noses into its side? The old dog usually just stands up, shakes the puppies off and walks away. Usually the puppies find another activity but there’s usually one who will just sit and whine. It’s very sad, but very typical of human, er… I mean, canine nature.

      • Robin

        Mmmmm. Judgy=fudgy=chocolate=….Rats! It’s Lent!!

  • Julie

    When I was a child, I used to heatedly argue with my Jewish grandparents on matters of religion. I have no doubt it was terribly obnoxious, and I’m pretty sure I was just repeating things my very silly, former cult-member parents said, but it’s hard to have too much regret because my grandparents were so genuinely amused and were so patient in waiting for me to grow up and calm down. I still cant believe they loved me so much.

    I ended up rebelling spectacularly against my parents and all religion, which extended well into my 20s, so when I came crawling back to the Church (recently) it was with rather abject humility. I don’t know that I will ever feel confident enough to rip any new assholes over matters of religion, although I kind of like watching other people do it. Probably that’s just sloth.

  • http://www.prayersforjosie.wordpress.com jeni

    oh it’s just my age! haha, whew.

  • Julie

    I said something so cringeworthily horrible to a table full of women when I was in my twenties (young, newly married) that it STILL haunts me. Still makes me cringe. Fifteen years later. Yikes. So, so humbling.

    I have to say, memories like that do make me a teeny bit more merciful when something happens like, say, a haggy NFP-preaching busybody gets all up in my grill about when I’m going to have another baby, not knowing that I’ve just had a miscarriage the week before.

    Sigh. You just never know…..

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/simchafisher Simcha Fisher

      Oh, come on! WHAT DID YOU SAY?

    • http://www.prayersforjosie.wordpress.com jeni

      please???

    • Marian Philomena Gianna Elizabeth

      Don’t leave me hanging!

      • Margaret

        My ears are itching here! C’mon!

    • http://a-star-of-hope.blogspot.com JoAnna

      Ditto the others – you can’t tell a story like that and leave it hanging!

    • Julie

      OK….are you ready for this….I said, “I think it’s really mean to have just two children.”

      Yeah, several of the women around the table had two children. For various reasons. I found out years later that one was suffering from secondary infertility….but even if that weren’t the case, come on! What a dumb, judgemental, know-it-all thing to say! yiiiikes

      (And OF COURSE, I ended up having only two children.)

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  • Father Rust

    I was recently told a quote by Dietrich VonHildebrand, which I cannot remember in its exactness but will paraphrase:

    You cannot love God if you are unwilling to change.

    I think this blog is awesome. I think article is awesome. Rose, what I am hearing is not judgment of others, but of self. Through Simcha’s article, we all are realizing that, yesterday (week/year) we needed to change. We weren’t perfect then.

    Guess what. We’re not perfect now. We still need to change.

    • Jen

      Amen!

  • Becca

    I know I’m that obnoxious 20-something (adult convert to boot!) in our parish who makes all the middle-aged cradle Catholics cringe. My husband (30-something, calmer cradle Catholic) and I are working on toning it down, though we started that process when we realized that being ‘gung-ho’ meant overcommitment to parish ministries and committees!

    I don’t think I have any specific statements or occasions of particularly egregious behavior, though I might not have enough distance yet to see them. ;-)

  • Erika

    I’m definitely struggling with this. I’m 31, a fairly recent revert to my Protestant denomination; a member of a graying, tired, probably-circling-the-drain, stubborn, stuck-in-its-ways, unwilling to try new things, congregation. Some days I just want them to For.Heavens.Sake.Give.A.Crap about whether my kids have a church to belong to when they grow up, you know?! It can be hard at times to remember that some of them have been members for twice as long as I’ve been alive, and they’ve seen a lot come and go, and that my Fresh New Ideas aren’t necessarily as fantastic as I think.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/simchafisher Simcha Fisher

      Erika, I absolutely am not saying that being mediocre and apathetic is good enough. I think that people who are in the position to change organizations, like churches, absolutely need to be gung-ho, and probably a little bit obnoxious, just to get through to people. I was speaking more of when I find myself trying to run other people’s LIVES.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/simchafisher Simcha Fisher

      Although you might want to consider just becoming a Catholic — we have so many incredibly good old ideas, there’s really no need for fresh new ones!

      • Julie

        ROFL

  • Judy

    I l ike the article, but not the a……le addition.

  • J H

    At least the last time I was VERY obnoxious was actually on the internet and not to someone’s face… that, uh… does make it better… doesn’t it? Hello? Beuller??

    *so sorry* lol.

  • http://www.enanoslivo.blogspot.com kris

    As a teenager I confidently stated that a certain young man would GO TO HELL if he did not accept Jesus Christ as his one and only personal Savior. Being “Catholic” was not the same as being “saved”.

    Then I went and married the man. Ah, memories of our courtship….

  • Katherine

    gung-hoery

    You deserve extra credit for that one.

    I once asked my then 70 yo father when he finally knew he was really an adult. He responded, “I’ll let you know.”

    I was at least given the grace to understand the stronger I felt about something (the mote in my neighbor’s eye) the more tightly my lips needed to stay sealed.

    Katherine

  • Rachel

    You know, I think I’m “gung-ho” in talk, but not in action. I’ll have big talk about ripping new a-holes for people, but I don’t follow through on that.

    Wisdom? Prudence? Laziness? Who knows what this is!

  • Greg C

    I could definitely use hearing this message more often. In fact, I’m giving a speech in class about supporting the pro-life movement on Monday (gulp.) I hate the idea of preaching preachily from my vast 21-years of experience and wisdom about this sensitive and difficult topic. But it was really late, my defenses were low, the speech outline was due the next day, and my conscience was bothering me about not choosing this important topic.

    Prayers that I don’t make an a-hole out of myself and the pro-life movement greatly appreciated.

  • http://karenedmisten.blogspot.com Karen Edmisten

    God help me, I have more stories like this than I would care to admit.

    There was the time … no, that’s too embarrassing.

    What about the time I said … no, can’t share that. Mortifying.

    Shutting up is usually the holiest thing I can do these days.

  • http://thegroomsfamily.wordpress.com the Groom’s family

    Great post, definitely not just you!

    Any advice on whether writing to the woman who is sleeping with your friend’s husband and causing a divorce constitutes being too gung-ho?

  • Ann

    Great post! Well, my cringe story almost got me fried! Being an earnest, dutiful Catholic School girl of 9, I informed all of my Protestant neighbors that they were going to hell if they didn’t return to Mother Church, and pronto. This obnoxious behavior went on for months until, tired of my judgementalism, the neighbor kids tied me to a tether-ball pole in order to burn me as a Catholic heretic. What a tragic discovery it was that no grace was given to dramatically forgive my enemies and sing joyful praises to God as the match was struck! All I could muster up was a pagan determination to die bravely and quietly, while dwelling on the fact that the metal pole would get REALLY hot! One of their mother’s saved me at the last minute. What’s hilarious about this (and a sure sign of the Lord’s sense of humor!), is that I’ve been a Protestant now for 23 years!

  • enness

    I find it useful to have a drink (or snack) in hand at parties for this reason; if I really need to open my mouth and put something in it, amaretto sour tastes a lot better than foot.


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