Catholic Writing, Brands and Authenticity

Catholic Writing, Brands and Authenticity August 25, 2016
Picture from Pixabay
Picture from Pixabay

Waiting tables is a story of how different things are “behind the scenes” verses what the world sees. The world saw working at Hooters as either a fight for women’s liberation or proof of how men objectify women. I saw it as a way to take care of my kids and keep a roof over our head. The behind the scenes of most restaurants looks a lot different than what the public sees. How servers act in front of tables is totally different than how they really are. A waiter can smile and nod to a table and then go to the back complaining about how rude the people they are waiting on are. It happens, anyone who has ever waited tables knows this.

I always thought it was complete bullshit.  I think there is more to get out of being true to yourself and others. I don’t mean be rude to customers but some kind of truce where we all agree to be honest with each other and give each other the benefit of the doubt.

Over the years I have accepted this is just how it is in a world so concerned with personal relations. People stand up at microphones and apologize for things that they don’t think they really did wrong but have to suck it up because PR is so important for the bottom line. Selling a service, product or brand is way more important than the truth or reality. We can easily see the outcome of that kind of thinking since we are stuck in an election year where we have to choose which candidate has the best PR even though they are both horrible choices.

Being a Catholic writer is nothing like waiting tables. Or maybe that’s wrong.

When I started blogging it was for one reason only: to show people what God did and was doing in my life. It was pretty easy to write back then since I was able to talk about my past but was in such a good place in life as a new convert. I was not struggling with anything about the Faith. I knew exactly where I had come from and was grateful to not be there anymore. I had no clue how this all worked, I just knew I wanted to tell my conversion story and I liked the internet. (ha! That’s so funny now…)

The last 6 years of being Catholic and neck deep in Catholic digital media has been an experience. Sometimes it’s a grace filled one and sometimes I want to shoot my computer screen. The one thing that has always confused me is the idea of Catholic writers being a brand. If we are supposed to be sharing our lives with people and telling them how life works when you are a Catholic in the world, then why exactly do we have to “hide” things that go on in our lives? I honestly thought that it was just how some people are wired, you know, those weird “private” people. (my husband is one of those people so no shade to you private people) I just figured that some people are quieter, more private and have other life obligations and filters that make them not tell the whole world when their life is crashing every five seconds. I am not any of those things at all.

I just assumed that this was a thing about personalities. I kept on reading people like Hallie Lord, Elizabeth Scalia, Calah Alexander and Simcha Fisher. They seemed to be a lot like me in what I was seeing in the world, what I was struggling with and even when I disagreed with them it was great to see women who were not scared or timid to speak. Jennifer Fulwiler dropped her book and then I met Heather King. I felt so great about being a Catholic woman and especially about being a Catholic writer!

One day I got an email from someone admonishing me for my opinion about a TV show and telling me that they didn’t think I was “that kind of writer”. I am paraphrasing, but that is the jist of what I was told. This is the first time that I started seeing the segregation of personalities. I was labeled as a certain kind of person and I can’t really argue with parts of that label since I was all over social media dropping fbombs and being snarky to people. I am not going to say that I wasn’t in need of some admonishment, but the thing is that it didn’t seem like admonishment for my own good but rather it seemed like I was being told to choose sides. I was confused because I thought we were all on the same side. We are all Catholic and we love Christ and His Church right?

In the years that have followed I have seen a trend of people staying away from certain “types” of Catholics. People who only comment on certain “kinds” of Catholics’ posts, share only certain kinds of blog posts or articles and only vote along a certain party line. I have seen the two camps of Catholics form and leave those of us who don’t fit into either of them out in the cold to learn our lesson and pick which one we are going to be a part of. This election has only made it worse.

I’ve seen people say that we are representing a brand (that we are our brand) so we should watch how we talk on social media, in our writing or what we say in public. I do not agree with that at all. I am not a brand. I don’t represent any brand at all. I represent Christ. That means that I should not go around being rude to people in person or online and when I do then I need to admit that and seek forgiveness for it. Not because of a brand though, but because I am working on being a saint. Because I am Catholic. Not only am I Catholic, but I am a sinner. I am not going to go around acting like I’m not. I am not going to put on a mask of piety for people so that I don’t get fired from Catholic writing jobs or so that I can get Catholic speaking gigs. That isn’t how Catholicism works.

I am a sinner. I have struggles. I struggle with my life, my marriage, being a mother and with my relationship with God. I think that people hate me, I feel sorry for myself and I whine and complain like it’s an Olympic sport. I write so that I can share all of that with people who think that they have to have their shit together to come to Christ. (and because it’s a form of therapy for me)  No, you don’t. You come to Him just as you are and let Him help you with whatever you need. Sure that sometimes means getting past the line of assholes for Jesus at the front door, but do not let that stop you because there are a lot more people inside waiting to help you. He loves you. He loves me and look at me! I’m a hot mess. Anything good in me is because He loves me.

I will never act like someone that I’m not and I don’t care how many “catholic” jobs that costs me. I am not a brand, I am Leticia freakin’ Adams. It is so uncatholic to reduce a person to a brand or label, not to mention lazy since it relieves people of ever having to actually get to know the person. If I have to keep waiting tables until I’m 80, then so be it. God will do whatever He wants with me.

 

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  • Hilary

    Be Leticia frickin Adams. That’s awesome enough. Except, possibly, being Morticia Adams from The Adams Family. She’s pretty awesome as well, and would never let assholes for anybody stand in her way or diss her family.

  • Elias Crim

    This article rocks. Brands are for livestock; witness is for people.

  • John Médaille

    “Brands are for livestock; witness is for people.” Great line! I’m sure to steal that someday.

  • Michael Darlak

    Well, I’m trying to grasp here this labeling concern you have with those that label those with bad public life styles that claim to be faithful Catholics, right, something like that? You feel you are being labeled a bad example of Catholic identity because you are a waitress at Hooters, yes? That, because of this you feel it is unchristian for those to think this because you had to provide for your family, even to the age of 80 if need be, yes? Then may I respond if I have this right. The fact that you may very well be endowed with the physical attributes to be a Hooters waitress and having the responsibility to provide for your family does not justify your actions. Not only do you put yourself in harm of losing sight of Christ, you give opportunity for men to lose sight of Christ by allowing opportunity to create lust in their hearts. Of course it’s their choice to view women as an object or a gift from God, but I’m certain the former is not the case here. Your actions in fact, creates an atmosphere to sin and this a selfish act, to not care about the state of grace men desire but fail to achieve. You have the wonderful ability to articulate your thoughts on paper, to say Hooters was the only opportunity to provide for your family stretches it some. You’re not alone here, I knew a man who was going through RCIA and when I asked him his occupation he replied he was a bouncer at a gentlemen nightclub. I had to chuckle a bit. Yes, you’re a typical struggling Catholic trying to justify your actions to God and unknowingly forsaking others. This is what we’re good at, us Catholics. We have the full knowledge and strength of God, we just fail to live it as He desires of us. Pax tecum.

  • I haven’t worked at Hooters for 15 years so no, you don’t have it right. Sorry. Maybe read a few of my old posts and see if that helps.

    My problem is with Catholic speakers/writers being seen as a brand instead of human beings that are sinners. We all justify our sins, just not all of us have the guts to be vulnerable enough for other to see them by being so public about them like us Catholics that write/speak.

    Do you know how much Catholic writers get paid? I still wait tables and if I could it would be at Hooters, but it’s not so I work somewhere else and the job isn’t any different even if I’m wearing a button up shirt with a tie other than when I worked at Hooters, my bosses cared about me and my kids way more.

  • Celeste

    I’m picking up a hint of Pharaseeism (spelling??) here. There’s definitely a subtext of “I thank you God that I am not like that Catholic over there.” It’s weird, because you’re all about being honest about your sinfulness, but I definitely hear it as a “My past and my profanity make me a better Catholic and closer to Jesus than you.” You’re like, “People are going to come to Jesus because they’re going to see how great I am. Because I keep saying I’m not so great. But really, I’m pretty great and better than people who don’t share my particular act.” Just what I’m picking up. Some pride there.