Saturday, August 21, 2004


My cat is old and a little plump. She used to be downright fat but she had some kind of stress-related illness last summer when we went on vacation for 3 weeks and she lost a bunch of weight that she has not regained. Regardless, she is 11 years old and wary, and not inclined to do much except sleep.

Except, of course, when I'm wearing something that's even slightly fluttery around the ankles. Today I'm wearing a long straight denim skirt, yesterday it was wide-leg linen pants. I've been pounced on 3 times already in the past hour. Now when I get up I keep an eye out for where the cat is. Last night she nailed me just as I came off the top of the stairs.

I'd find it charming if she didn't have so many sharp parts. I do find it charming when she parks herself directly under the monitor while I'm online. I have to scroll everything up to the top 2/3rds of the screen to read over her, but it's worth it just to have her nearby. One of the drawbacks of the new back-friendly chair is that it is decidedly cat-unfriendly. She can't come sit in my lap or lounge on my chest as I slouched at the keyboard, because I literally can't slouch at the keyboard anymore. The upside is that my sciatica is definitely a lot better.


DH was invited to the Cardinals' preseason game unexpectedly this afernoon. I told him to go and have fun. It was clear he thought that I would want him to stay home, but it's Saturday and we have no plans for anything, and he doesn't get out with his friends all that much. So I ended up taking all 3 kids with me to Mass. We sat in the "cry room" which I really dislike, but since it was kid-to-parent ratio was 3 to 1, I figured I'd better be where I could field questions and shush talking without getting too embarassed. They were all terrific, though. I had thought DS2 might be a little curious questioner throughout, but there were so many people he just clammed up and sat on my lap whenever possible. I hadn't thought about his shyness around a lot of people. It will be interesting to see how he does with that when school starts.


I'm blogged out. I've spent the last few days reading a lot of the blogosphere coverage of the Swift Vets developments. I'm glad I have some good resources to keep track of what's going on, but it gets to be too much, since everyone links to everybody else, and pulls quotes, and comments on the comments, etc. It's a fairly incestuous community, but in this instance I'm fairly sure that's a good thing. My observations are that the other's side's blogosphere is similar. Perhaps the best thing about all this independent research and discussion is that the main stream media is losing its monolithic grip on the distribution of information. It used to be that if the Big 3 and NY Times didn't cover a story, that story didn't exist. Not so, these days. Gotta love that internet.

I commented to DH yesterday that by the time this election is over, the Democrats are going to be cursing the 'net. In the early heady days of the primary, Howard Dean's masterful use of the 'net to encourage grassroots participation and collect cash seemed to show how the Dems could extend their influence even into cyberspace, where surely they would remain rulers of all they surveyed. It seemed clear they were better organized, better educated, better suited to taking advantage of everything the latest technology was offering.

Now? Not so much.


I've been doing a lot of thinking about rules, and when it's OK to challenge rules, when it's OK to insist that a rule be changed. This all ties back into the "Church doesn't seem to ever be swayed by science" altercation. Regardless of whether or not that statement reflects reality, I've come to the conclusion that the assumption behind the statement -- the Church should be "flexible" about changing its rules, depending on scientific advancement -- is flawed.

I did more research on the whole "celiacs wanting gluten-free communion hosts" issue, and found that it has been a relative hotbed of religious activism for probably 30 years or more. So that ticked me off for another reason, that the AP reporter (and probably the mom in the story) had failed to do any legwork... the entire issue was presented as if it was Mom & daughter -v- The Pope, which is definitely not the case, as this issue has been presented numerous times over decades.

But, back to the rules thing, and when rules should be challenged -- this ties in, too, to the same-sex marriage debate, I think -- clearly if a rule is imposing physical harm or causing hardship, it's ripe for change. I guess some would argue that the lack of gluten-free hosts at communion is causing a hardship for celiac Catholics, but since these folks have another valid option -- receiving wine only -- the hardship is greatly mitigated. OK, they can't have bread, but it's not as if they're denied the Presence of Christ. We have to look at what's important here, and remember we can't always get what we want. (cue Rolling Stones...)

That's the crux of the matter. In many situations we have people insisting that they be recognized as different, and yet still entitled to the same treatment, even if it flies in the face of literally thousands of years of tradition. There are reasons that transubstantiation may only be performed with wine and unleavened bread, just as there are reasons that marriage is a bond between a man and a woman. I think they're valid reasons. Hundreds, probably thousands, of people a lot smarter than me and a lot better educated in things sociological and theological have examined them in great detail and still these ideas, these rules have stood.

It irks me when people want to change the rules so as to minimize inconvenience to themselves. When you're different, life is harder. You're not like everyone else, you can't do the same things everyone else can do. I'm different in some ways that are not obvious, but I don't go around insisting that the world re-order itself to make me happy. I know that isn't going to happen.

Sometimes an institution that is thousands of years old has to go, slavery being the best example. I'm not saying that just because something has been around forever that means it's sacred and we can't even talk about changing it. What I am saying is, it's important to get to the heart of the matter, to understand why a rule is the way it is, what is its purpose in the Church, or in society as a whole. What will be the implications of changing the rule? And why are you seeking to change this rule in the first place? In the First Communion story, the family was given options but rejected them, and tried to do an end run and got caught, and now they're being portrayed as tiny Davids up against the Goliath of the monolithic Church. Millions of Catholics with celiac have been dealing with this issue for decades, and yet this one mom thinks her daughter is special enough to merit a reconsideration of this topic at the highest levels. I suppose we all think our children are that special, but for my part, I do not think that my children are that deserving of special treatment. I think it's very rare for any one person to be so deserving.

In the end, I don't think these people get it, anyway. We're talking about the real Presence of Christ, here. Other Christian faiths distribute communion but they do not believe in transubstantiation, the transformation of the bread and wine into Christ. That family needs to focus on the Sacrament, and not the means by which it is delivered.

Marriage? That's a sacrament, too, the only one that lay people (a man and a woman) administer to each other. I always crack up at Alan Colmes' perennial question to anyone who opposes same-sex marriage: "How does same-sex marriage weaken your marriage, personally?" He says he doesn't understand the argument that same sex marriage weakens the institution. Here's the answer: my marriage is not influenced by anyone else getting married or not. It's not current marriages that are threatened, it's future marriages. Changing the definition of marriage will change its value to society, just as removing the social stigma from pre-marital sex changed the way women are valued in society...

Rome didn't fall in a day, either.

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