Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Clouds and Sunshine

Going around for two days humming "For Ireland I'd Not Tell Her Name" and contemplating the Song of Songs has clearly had an admirable effect on my temper. I didn't snark on a gentleman at work who revealed he was a Jehovah's Witness. I avoided the theological discussion which followed. When he went talking about how Jehovah's Witnesses were the only church that studied the same readings every week all over the world, I restrained myself from doing more than grinning and saying, "Oh, just like Catholics." (And I still don't know why he didn't like me saying so! Honestly, there are other denominations that also are found all over the world and have lectionaries, and most Americans ought to realize this.) At this point, for no reason, he got mad and brought up the suspended priests in Tipp City and claimed that would never ever ever happen in his church. And yet I didn't do any more than speak forcefully to him, which honestly, was just about a miracle.

I suppose this incident startled and upset me mostly because the gentleman in question is generally very polite. It may be that he was suffering the after-effects of some JW propaganda speech about us eeeeevil Catholics, but honestly. I roll my eyes in his general direction. (Well, and pray for him, of course.)

In contrast, when I went to the Big Fat Jewish Wedding in the middle of the Summer of Scandal, not one person mentioned it to me. Not one. Among folks who had good historical reason to dislike the Catholic Church, and no reason to accept me other than that I was a friend of the groom. See, Solomon and Elke's family and friends know...civil.

I've been visiting Baraita today for the first time in a while, and once again, we have an example of this lady's civil behavior as she deals with crucifixes as a Jew. She doesn't throw out a crucifix left in her home by a previous owner; no, she contemplates what to do with it and wishes she could trade a Catholic family for mezuzahs left at their new house. She also has the following funny story:

My first encounter with a residential crucifix came early in grad school; I was doing a summer language-study program at a major university considerably north of Metropolis, and I arranged for cheap accomodations at one of that university's residential colleges, which happened to be run by a Catholic religious order. When I finally reached my assigned room late one evening, I found it entirely unornamented except for a small crucifix hanging on the wall. It barely registered at the time; I dumped my suitcases, ventured out for a meal, came back, started unpacking, and was about to change into my nightshirt when I paused... yeah, the crucifix was watching me. (I'm sure it had no evil intent -- Jesus could hardly have looked less interested -- but I was raised to only get undressed in front of men on purpose.) I turned my back on it and started to pull my shirt off, then changed my mind -- the crucifix was still there. Carefully smoothing down my clothes, I climbed onto the nearest bed, took it down, and gently placed it face-down on a convenient shelf, where it remained for the rest of my stay.

Hee! This is weird enough to be something I might have done! I love Baraita, and I bet taking a class from its writer is a trip. I highly recommend her informative post on Leviticus, which clears up a lot for me. (But I can't believe she deliberately missed the Palio...not someone with a horse-crazy girlhood, I gather.) One interesting thing is that word "decoration". I realized suddenly that I never thought of a crucifix as a decoration; it's more of an appliance. (Same for mezuzahs, presumably.) Something functional and useful.

(Another cheerful thing I found through Baraita is New Directions in Pooh Studies. I'm sure you've all seen this, but tump-tump-tump your way over there. It's funny. Also, all you gamers and X-Files fans will enjoy How to Create a Golem from the Comfort of Home.)

Finally, from Electrolite, a story about how sometimes you want the ornery and uncivil around. Frankly, if someone fought for my rights and freedom like this, I'd let him be rude and offensive to me as much as he liked. (Okay, so I'd reserve the right to snark back.... Come to think of it, that describes a lot of my relationship with my beloved family!)


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