Land of Chaos and Confusion (AKA Red Herring or Current Change?)

All my life, my mind has been a little different. I was making connections before they ever thought to teach kids to do it in school. It was easy for me to argue against censorship and within three paragraphs be all for censorship.

However, the last ten years or so, connections have failed me. I’m not sure exactly why, and I can’t get most medical professionals to understand. All it takes to pass their little test is to know the day of the week and who the President is. I’m talking about little things–losing words, substituting synonyms for similar sounding words, or worse trying to use a similar sounding antonym.

Maybe I’m entering the halcyon days of my golden years a little early. But I digress…

Last Thursday was End It Thursday. End It Thursday was a mass effort to raise awareness of human trafficking. No one likes the subject; no one wants to admit we still have children working in sweatshops or little girls sold to evil people to do things that are unnatural for their age. I proudly wore my red X.

In the weeks leading up to End It Thursday, I had a real struggle. I felt it was something my children should do, but I didn’t know how to explain it to them. How do you explain people using other people? How do you explain injustice? How do you explain that slavery still exists even in the 21st century? I did find a way, and the kids were in it.

I also tried to make it a learning experience and let them practice Internet research. So, I listed off four or five people I thought would be good. I wanted to show them that good, just rules should not be broken; however, unjust laws that don’t encourage and uplift even for a minority should be fought. I wanted to show them civil disobedience, passive resistance, and the consequences. So I named Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Both were fine choices.

But then I threw out Andrew Greeley. At the time, I thought he was an abolitionist preacher in the 19th century. Ha-ha-ha (why, yes, you do detect a note of sarcasm)! But I had this vague feeling I missed the mark yet again.

I did the one thing I tell the kids never to do–I googled Andrew Greeley and went looking for his Wiki article. I think God had that one in mind for me, not my kids.

You see, Andrew Greeley was actually a Catholic priest who studied sociology and turned novelist. Yes, he is a fellow writer, someone easily intoxicated by strings of words that roll off the tongue and hang longingly in the air.

In the 70s, he did a lot of work to try to combat some of the negative stereotypes of Catholics held over from the mass immigrations of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His work was so good that the US bishops hired him to study the Catholic priesthood. He did his work honestly with integrity. Unfortunately, the bishops didn’t like his work so much because like the boy in the emperor’s new clothes he spoke a hard truth no one wanted to acknowledge.

And his devotion to truth took his life downhill. He was denied parish ministry (the life blood of any good shepherd). The same bishop sought to close many of Father Greeley’s inner city schools. His work was constantly belittled and downgraded.

The funny thing was: the harder he was fought, the more prolific and expressive Father Greeley became. He so firmly believed that so much of what happened in the natural world mimicked the Creator’s grand plan for souls that he experimented with fiction, often dealing with sexuality in a very open and down-to-earth way. It did not go over well with his superiors.

And he never saw himself as anything but a priest. Even his writing talent was just one facet of his desire, or maybe soul longing, to shepherd souls. And the funds generated by his works were used in support of many charities. Of course, I do firmly disagree with his support of Obummer, but I digress…

What lesson can I learn? Writing was Father Greeley’s passion. He wrote daily. He actually made a joke that he refused to practice contraception with his ideas.

As a woman, the idea of having a voice is a sweet prospect. Even sweeter is the prospect of using that voice to help others along the journey of life.

So, while Father Greeley may have been a red herring on the journey to helping my kids understand the evils of the world, he may be a subtle, almost imperceptible change in the current signalling a new season in my life.


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