I'm becoming somewhat of a pacifist concerning argumentation, in emails or on the web. Not from anything loftier than a bare utilitarian impulse, since it seems I have an equal and opposite effect from that which is intended. There's a reason reverse psychology is a term familiar: we are most resistant to ideas that are exactly what we most need to hear, self most definitely included. I'm more convinced than ever of the truth of Archbishop Sheen's line "win an argument, lose a soul."
The context for this is that that which I hold dear is mercy (if not on my interlocutors, ha.) And Heather King's works are rife with it and thus I hold them dear, especially the latest, "Shirt of Flame". In it she says, with some delicacy, that she can even understand the sins of pedophiles or words to that effect. Rut-row! That set my friend's "liberal gieger-counter" off and he saw red. Never could he imagine feeling the least pity for the child molester. She lost a reader and I lost if not a friend, one who trusts my judgment.
I made a similar mistake with my father-in-law, another justice guy. He was appalled when I told him of an ex-Nazi who confessed his sins to a priest before his death and thus was presumably in Purgatory instead of Hell. The story I had cherished repelled my f-i-l. I have this tendency, sometimes, to assume my mindset is the same as everyone else's. But people are different.
Of course my love of mercy could be cheap and shallow. I have not been a victim of, nor do I know any victims of, sex crimes or Nazi genocidal maniacs. I concede that I may not be able to identify closely enough with the victims. More sinning than sinned upon is me.
But still I can't help but think of St. Philip Neri's famous identification with Judas: "Oh Jesus, watch over me always, especially today, or I shall betray you like Judas." Here was a saint who didn't hold himself above the worst sinner in history, the man who Christ Himself said it would be better than "he'd never been born."
"They know not what they have," was my envious thought upon reading Betty Duffy mention she's in charge of a religious education class. That may not be true, of course, some may know and appreciate her. Others may think that she's just a "handsome woman" as Lino Rulli might say. The only reason I realize she's of such depth is from reading her blog. I have that advantage. But then I got to thinking: how many other extraordinary people are walking around that I completely miss as being extraordinary? And then I realized how flawed that whole mindset itself is, since isn't everybody extraordinary given that we are all made in the image and likeness of God and will end up either as angels or devils, metaphorically speaking?
Her latest column in Pathoes - ironically enough given the subject matter - was like crack cocaine to me. Reading about one's affliction has a sort of ameliorating effect, or at least gives you momentarily sufficient distance to understand what's happening. It certainly "fits" for me, this pleasure-till-you-drop mentality, the serial affections.. I have to gear up for suffering as seriously as I gear up for pleasure. I need to take that time and say the Rosary in lieu of listening to Lino on the ride home from work or music on the way in. Even better I need to "be still and know that He is God". Prayer is like oxygen. Effects not long-lasting, but neither is optional.