Some of you are already fans of Calah Alexander, who has been blogging a while at Barefoot and Pregnant.
Some of you may only have discovered her thanks to Calah’s recent feature here at Patheos — a remarkably heartening exposition on how a pastor attuned to mercy can give such a great assist to grace.
And some of you may only have picked up on Calah since the big news of Leah’s move Rome-ward, of which Calah — in sympathetic spirit for a fellow convert, recalled her Father-in-Law’s advice on requesting baptism:
He said that I should have asked to share in the burden of the cross, since that what’s conversion really is. Conversion never ends, I remember him saying. You’ll be carrying a cross the rest of your life. The only thing that will change is how much of a burden you are strong enough to bear.
I remember a priest once asking, “what’s the point of a faith that costs you nothing, that challenges nothing, that only affirms yourself?” Calah wasn’t trying to be a downer for Leah; she just knows something about the cost.
Converting cost me a bond with my parents and brothers and sister that I will most likely never get back. Converting put a rift between my family and the family that raised me. Converting cost me friends. Conversion requires sacrifice and suffering, no matter what, no matter who you are or where you come from.
Calah has a story to tell,, and she has a strong Catholic sensibility that is at once fervent and temperate. The longer she is Catholic, the broader and more reasoned becomes her outlook, as is often the case. In her first post here at Patheos, she talks a little about that journey and the relief that comes from untwisting one’s panties, and realizing that the world can be a goofy place:
After spending a few years in the blogosphere . . . I started to see “Catholic kitsch” for the first time and was stunned to realize that the grand, majestic Church I had converted to also had some crazy, silly, and even downright ridiculous elements. I gradually came to realize that the Church was made up of people, not just the wonderful Cistercians in Dallas and the University of Dallas campus. Other people, people who sinned like me, people who gave the Church a bad name, people who gave the Church a good name, and people who really made me wonder if the CCD programs ought to be a little clearer on that whole “we don’t actually worship these statues” thing. Most of all, I found that all these disparate elements did not diminish my love for the Catholic Church. They made the Church I had converted to even more beautiful, and even more true.
She’s right. Sometimes I think half the fun of being Catholic comes from learning how to roll our eyes at ourselves and some of the things we do (pinning money on the statue that’s processed through the streets of Brooklyn? Hey, my parents did it! On the way to the pub!) and also from realizing that we that same kitsch can be precisely the thing we turn to for a guilty pleasure of consolation that doesn’t have to really make sense, or be in good taste.
Please make Calah Alexander welcome to Patheos, and bookmark her site. I love the kid, and I only regret that because I am using an ipad right now and am too tired to try to figure out how to do the photo, that accompanies this post, I can’t show it to you here. It’s joyful, and authentic and it puts forward one of the greatest faces of Catholicism I’ve ever seen.
Speaking of Kitsch, by the way, Max Lindenman, who I believe refers to Calah as “his homegirl” (so, you see, she is already part of the family) also happened to be writing about how sometimes God uses Kitsch to be Kind…in the right measure of consolation. Language warning, because it’s Max. You’re warned.