Think of it as a box of bittersweet chocolates . . .
1. Victoria has been spontaneously sharing things she’s learned with us. This is not something Violet does much, or has ever done much. So I am overjoyed when suddenly, from the back seat, Victoria says, “Guess what we learned in science?” (co-op) She proceeded to tell me a little about Stephen Hawking, then ask if I would get her a book about him. I had already mentioned to the co-op science teacher that I had struggled finding a book about him that would be suitable for younger readers, but I’ll try again.
2. Violet has decided to write a letter to Barack Obama about gay marriage, feeling confident that if she explained the problem, he would fix it. I did not have the heart to tell her that Barack Obama is on record as opposing gay marriage. I watched him say the words myself. Like many younger people, her exposure to gay people is the lovely parents of other children we know. No Village People or Will & Grace stereotypes, no HIV paranoia, no clue about the Castro, or West Hollywood, or Provincetown. Just two moms with kids, a family much like ours. The idea that they are less a family than we are makes no sense to her.
Of course there is the official position of our church hierarchy, which I do not discount or take lightly. Yet how do I explain to my daughter we need to follow the moral dictums of people who held slaves and considered women less valuable than men (to put it kindly)? People whose understanding of same-sex relationships bears little relationship to what we now call homosexuality? That the Living Word is dead in this regard?
No doubt some would call me a “Cafeteria Catholic.” And I would call those people some pretty choice words too!
3. Speaking of holier-than-thou Catholics, I was inspired by Sarah’s recent post on visiting a Mass to look again at the “conversation” about the sign of peace during Mass. As Sarah wrote, and as I responded, the sign of peace can be one of the most holy and powerful moments of a mass. (And since St. Augustine proposed the sign of peace to follow the Lord’s prayer in the 4th century, it hardly qualifies as a Vatican II/Protestant abomination.) Yet there is a surprising amount of irrational hatred directed toward the sign of peace by neotraditionalist Catholics. Reading blogging Catholic opinionators you would think that wafers on the tongue and abstaining from handshakes were the first two of the 10 commandments, and that only apostates could think differently.
Which all goes to show that being either a Christian or a Catholic is no protection against being an a**hole. (Poor Sarah, I’m sure she didn’t want her lovely post linked to this coarse sentiment!)
4. For my final crabby sentiment of today, here’s a new rule:
No one who lives outside of Minnesota is allowed to opine on the current recount. Or on the quality of our elected representatives.
For the record: Jesse Ventura turned out to be both smarter and much, much more stupid than I expected. And the smarter part was mostly the really good people he hired. And no, I did not vote for him. He’s an outlier, not any sort of representative of anything Minnesotan except maybe our independent streak.
Al Franken has so far turned out to be even smarter than I expected. Intelligence, sadly, does not make a good politician or even a good senator. But I’m pretty sure that corruption is worse. So I still feel good about Al Franken now, even though I did not originally have a lot of enthusiasm for him. He was strong the debates here, showing a deep understanding of issues.
5. Turning the corner, I continue to love Minnesota and Minnesotans. People here are just so doggone *nice*. (OK, that Lakeville woman who called Obama an Arab may have been having a bad day . . . ) This is a hard place to sustain one’s natural misanthropy.
A little history: after beginning college at Smith (Northampton) I returned to the Midwest and finished at the University of Minnesota. I LOVED the Twin Cities. I was morose when I left for grad school. When my coursework was complete (and my soon-to-be husband agreed) I was thrilled to return. A small part of the reason I did not ardently pursue an assistant professorship (and I can tell that story more fully another day) was that I loved living here and did not want to leave, ever. I have felt a strong affinity for this place since I first came here 20 years ago, and I am happy to be here again, now.