Monday, January 23, 2012

The Catholic Media/Blog Fast...By Further Explanation

A very quick note on, additionally, why I'm trying to "fast" from most Catholic media this year.

One of the unfortunate tendencies of Catholic blogs, media sites, and writers is to decry the catechesis of young Catholics coming up--and this isn't a new tendency. Even Fulton J. Sheen basically said, "If you want your kids to keep their faith, send them to the public school. If you want them to lose it, send them to Catholic school."

Well, I heard that advice too late. :-P

And so I've looked at some of the gaps in my kids' Catholic education and worried about all the rest. Become convinced that their Catholic educations were sorely lacking, and become angry that the people I trusted to do at least some of the catechesis on my kids apparently didn't know enough about Catholic tradition, prayer, and other richness themselves to pass it on to others.

Partner that with a cynicism that comes through on faith sites, basically telling us that the minute our kids go away to higher education, their faith will be shot to pieces...and you can see where I went with this.  I became on one level almost apologetic (in the bad sense) about the Faith with my kids--assuming that they'd been thoroughly wrung dry of any semblance of real Catholicism and I was gonna have to start over teaching them when it was far too late to do so. On another level, I was hopeful that they may have retained something...but all around me was nothing but bad news that led me to believe any hope I may have had was sheer foolishness.

And I acted on that assumption and leapt to a conclusion I shouldn't have.

I've already apologized to the family member I misjudged; I didn't suspect just how deep the core of his Catholic beliefs went, and how seriously he took them--and how little effect the world was having on his behavior versus what his upbringing had on it. I should have had more faith in all of that; after all, they all tell us that what we see modeled at home is what we end up living, unless we make a conscious decision to defy it. While some kids do, obviously--and while some of us need to defy things we've seen at home, because they're unhealthy--in this particular case, I should have had more faith.

I let myself be swayed by people who were so convinced no kid keeps the Faith from home that I didn't use common sense and/or optimism about my own. And when someone else from outside can make you doubt the very way you've raised your own family...there's something wrong with that balance.

Unfortunately, I'm very impressionable about such things (because I'm a worrying Mom :-)). And I let that bad impression overshadow what I should have known to be true.

Media can do this in many, many ways. (It's the power of advertising, after all: telling us we need something that, thirty seconds before that, we may not have even known existed!) But, even knowing the power of words, I should have known the power of faith, the power of parenting well, and the power of the influence of home standards on kids when they truly internalize them as adults.

I forgot all that, and it's a regret I will have to live with.
But I ain't gonna put myself in that position again.

So I'm not hanging out with people, or around verbiage, that's gonna even have a chance to do that to me.

Because some kids lose faith when they grow up doesn't mean all of them do.
And--as I am proof of--because some kids may "fall away" or fall into temptation to look "just like the rest of the world" doesn't mean that they never come back to their senses, either.
But you'll almost never hear that side of the story from much of Catholic media out there. All you'll hear is the deplorable state that the Faith is in among many young people.

Yep, there are mistakes being made.
But there are many good things still happening, too.
And unfortunately, our Catholic media gurus, like so many of their secular counterparts, completely miss that forest for picking out the trees that need cutting down.

I can't waste time feeling that outrage anymore.
And I can't risk hurting or upsetting people around me acting on outrage that's misplaced.

So...if your Catholic media site is largely dedicated to telling me that if I believe the Faith is in good shape, I'm a fool...
...if your blog is dedicated to pointing out all the ways we're gonna fall short...
...if the best you can do is rant, rave, or ridicule...
Sorry, but I don't have time for that. Not anymore. That's not "being informed," that's being discouraged. And as a writer, I've got enough in my profession that will discourage me already, without going and seeking out more of it.
Ergo...the fast.

Hopefully, I'll keep it up all year. Because the "weight" of all that outrage, cynicism, and fear is something I'd just as soon lose and leave behind...permanently.


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