Portland (Ore.) essayist Brian Doyle
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From Charles Camosy’s For Love of Animals:
“What I’m proposing in this book will likely seem so difficult precisely because our culture expects and supports practices and values of us which seem to require unjust treatment of nonhuman animals. But here is a tailor-made opportunity for the Church to be the Church. We can begin to create just structures of community which resist the unjust structures in our broader culture. Christians, for instance, should expect to come to Church events and not be served factory-farmed meat. Churches should work to make just and ethical forms of food available to the community — perhaps by helping to connect parishioners to the sources of their food. Churches could help make their congregations aware of farmers in the community who produce and sell ethical food. Perhaps they could even have ethical food available from farmers’ markets organized on Church property. Perhaps the social justice and pro-life parish committees could work together and have regular discussions and workshops on how to eat and live in just relationship with nonhuman animals. Even just having a strong community of people, knowing that we are all struggling to consistently apply our common principles on these issues, would make the burden easier to bear. …”
A link to The New York Times Belief piece, “Scholars Explore Christian Perspectives on Animal Rights”:
From Brian Doyle’s The Thorny Grace of It — and Other Essays for Imperfect Catholics, two columns, in their entirety:
“The Thorny Grace of It”
“The kids are surly and rude and vulgar and selfish and their feet smell so awful your eyes burn if you are trapped in a confined space with their empty sneakers or their unshod feet or both of those horrors at once, which happens. Your spouse can be testy and snappish and unfair and inconsistent and obsessed with finances and so liable to mood swings you have more than once considered erecting a barometer in the kitchen. The house is a shabby ragged moldy ancient peeling moist mess with so many tiny holes and apertures that slugs have their annual convention in the basement, with the little tiny name badges and glossy registration packets and everything. The dog has barfed in every room in the house. The house is mortgaged until the day Jesus Blessed Christ returns in His Radiant Glory to resolve all mortgage payments and carry us home to His house. The yard is a dense chaotic jungle in which blackberry vines thicker than your leg have evolved to pick and choose which birds they will snack upon before eating the neighborhood cats for dinner. The street is a dangerous racing alley for supercilious young men with tattoos and muscle cars and beer bottles and bad attitudes. The neighbor across the way is a witch from the eighth dimension who has many times called the cops because children set toes on her pristine lawn. The rain it does not cease nor does it falter. Your back has hurt since Reagan was president. Your daughter put a dent in the car so deep you can see China if the light is right. Not even the blessed toaster works properly. Your toothbrush smells like it was used to clean the parakeet’s cage. Half the windows in the house do not open because they were painted shut right after the Revolutionary War and the other half have various cracks that look suspiciously as if they were caused by footballs and wiffleballs thrown by children who adamantly deny ever once in their whole lives picking up footballs and wiffleballs, the liars. There are plants more than twelve inches high growing in the gutters. There is a cedar branch bigger than Utah looming ominously over the porch. There are liars and charlatans in Congress. The oceans are fouled. There are millions of children in my country who will not eat tonight. There have been thousands of children raped in my beloved church. Many men and women I have loved with all my heart have withered and shivered and died. I have three brothers I will not meet in this lifetime and one I will meet again only when Jesus Blessed Christ brings me home to His house, wherein lives my brother who just died. My wife and I lost a child when he or she was smaller than my hand yet she or he was our child, a being unlike any other that ever was or will be, and I will not meet him or her until Jesus Blessed Christ leads me to him or her by the hand and we embrace, weeping. There is so much pain and loss and suffering and fear and helplessness and greed and violence that sometimes I lay abed and feel naught but a great despair, and cannot see how to go on.
“But then I arise, because I know there is laughter and compassion, and creativity and wonder, and kindness and generosity beyond measure, and I know we are the tools and means by which light pierces the darkness. I know, as well and truly and deeply as I know anything at all, that the thorny grace of it is the shape and nature of its holiness. If there was no darkness there would be nothing for us to light. We are the light. So it is that I arise from the sagging old bed, and shuffle creakily into the glorious chaos of the kitchen, of my tumultuous family, of the bruised and bloody world, and get to work, grinning. I don’t know Who which set all this pain and glory in motion, but I bow in thanks for the sweet terrible puzzle of it all. Amen.”
“I, Brian, a sinner, a most simple suburbian, a generally decent sort but subject to fits of unrelieved selfishness, do here wish to confess and be shriven, in such a manner that speaking of that which I have not done well will provoke me to do better; this slight daily improvement being exactly the work we are asked to do by the Shining One. So then:
“I missed my cousin’s funeral because I had weekend plans with a girlfriend that I was not man enough to break; and this beloved cousin was a nun, and to this day, nearly thirty years after I casually blew off her funeral, I am haunted by the story of my sister, also now a nun, leaving a small bowl of white flowers on the altar after the Mass, because she and our cousin loved small white flowers, which they felt were overlooked in the world, but which often arrived first and smelled best.
“Obsecro ut mihi ignoscas, I beg to be forgiven.
“Also I was for many years sneering and dismissive and vulgar and rude to my mother and father, never once even seeing the pain I inflicted, never once thinking of them as human beings, never once thinking how they would feel to have raised and coddled a child with such a serpent’s tongue; and not until I was nineteen did I feel the lash of remorse, and pick up the telephone, and apologize profusely, and ask their forgiveness for years of surly lip.
“Obsecro ut mihi ignoscas.
“Also I did for years actually take my lovely bride for granted, more than a little; I did think that being married meant that she would never leave me and I could drift into a gentle selfishness that she would have to endure because she had sworn in public in a church before many witnesses to be true in good times and bad, in sickness and health, to love and honor you all the days of my life, I carry those words in my wallet; but I did not look at them enough and contemplate them and mull over them and take them deep into my salty heart and consider what they asked me to do and be, and there came dark years, and I was in no small part responsible for their bleakness and pain.
“Obsecro ut mihi ignoscas.
“Also I have roared at my children, and snarled at them, and insulted them, and made cutting remarks, and teased and razzed them past the point of gentle humor, and I have belittled their ideas and accomplishments, and failed to listen to what they were saying beneath the words they were using, and failed to contemplate their dreams, especially when their dreams were far from the dreams I had for them, and I set lofty expectations and standards and behavioral bars, all this having more to do with what I wanted than with what they wanted and who they wished to be, and a thousand thousand times I have spoken to them sternly of what they have not done rather than sweetly of what they have done, and left unsaid that which I feel most certainly in my heart, this being a love so oceanic and electric that I cannot find words for it, though I would happily die for them anytime anyhow anywhere, and if that is so, as I know it to be so, why can I not be more gentle to them, instead of snarling about the failed test?
“Obsecro ut mihi ignoscas.
“Also I have gossiped and committed calumny and made snide remarks about friends and acquaintances, and made snap judgments based on appearance, and held people to higher standards than I could meet myself, and jumped to conclusions based on no evidence at all not even ephemeral and circumstantial; and offered scurrilous insults freely; and while hiding behind humor actually flicked words like whips and chains upon those who deserved nothing of the sort; and I have amused myself with dark remarks; and I have often amused myself at the expense of others, under the guise of laughter; and I have done this so very much, I realize, because it is so very uncomfortable to say this aloud here on the naked page.
“Obsecro ut mihi ignoscas.
“Also I have taken seats on the bus reserved for the elderly and weary when I was neither; and I have sat mute on the bus while old women stood awkwardly, their heavy bags battering their thin shoulders; and I have stolen shampoo and notepads and pens from hotels and motels; and I have even stolen a Gideon Bible from a motel; and I have stolen vast ranks of teas from conferences and seminars; and I have stolen towels from pools and gyms; and I have stolen much else under the aegis of borrowing, knowing full well that I would never return nor attempt to return the contraband; and I have even in this way stolen obscure paperback books from the shelves of friends; another confession that makes me so uncomfortable that it must be true.
“Obsecro ut mihi ignoscas.
“There are many more things under heaven that I could here confess, but I am going to use the lovely excuse that time grows short and the end of the page draws near, so I beseech the reader to ascribe many more sins large and small to me, and leave them nameless except to Him who knows every feather of every sparrow, and assume my guilt and shame and apologia, and join me as we say, in a small voice but with a wild heart,
“Obsecro ut mihi ignoscas,
“And then amen.”
Happy 77th birthday, Pope Francis!
Can the following story be true? Check it out:
An excellent interview with Phil Donahue, from Krista Tippett’s public radio show, On Being:
The perfect stocking stuffer (that also helps a good cause):
Find it at:
How saintly is he? He doesn’t even get mad at Rush Limbaugh!
Lest we forget:
And last, but not least:
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Merry Christmas, everyone!
From the Huff Post: The pope’s thoughts as he approaches his first Christmas as head of the Catholic Church:. “Christmas is God’s meeting with his people,” he said. “It is also a consolation, a mystery of consolation.. After the midnight mass I have often spent an hour or so alone in the chapel before celebrating the dawn mass. I felt a profound feeling of consolation and peace.”
Wishing the same consolation and peace to you and yours!
See you on New Year’s Eve, with highlights from past shows, punctuated by some of Pope Francis’ favorite music! Thanks for listening!