Seven Posts I Haven’t Yet Told You About (7 Quick Takes, Vol. 43)

Hello there!

Gosh, it’s been forever again, hasn’t it? Especially since I keep forgetting to cross-post my Catholic Review blog posts here. Argh. All that time writing and I don’t even share it with you. (Unless you follow me on Facebook. Then maybe you’ve seen my posts.)

When I started that blog I was pretty good about sticking a new post here every time I had one there. But then I started forgetting, and once I started forgetting, I felt like I had to catch up before I could post anything new. (Weirdo-OCD-perfectionist Julie.)

Anyway — this is me catching up!

Here are seven posts (one in two parts) I haven’t yet told you about. And because I’ve (kind of) hit the lucky number seven here, I’m linking up with Kelly for Seven Quick Takes. (By the way, if you haven’t yet read her latest 7QT post — don’t miss it! It’s This Ain’t the Lyceum GOLD.)

—1—

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“Our system is better designed to stop than to do, and for one who fears the direction of a new government, that should be a comfort.

(Conservatives saw the value in that uncooperative-cog concept in the last administration; liberals will undoubtedly see it this time.)

So as worrisome as political developments may seem, I retain my basic trust in that spread-out, clunky system. I may disagree with the people who make it up, I may see few prospects for positive developments, but I trust that if things become truly dangerous, some sticky cog will get in the way.

God bless those sticky cogs.”

(Click here to read the whole post.)

—2—

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“Lately I feel like a failure at pretty much everything I try to do: mothering, managing my household, blogging, being a good friend and an involved member of my extended family. (I know I’m not actually a failure, but it sure feels like it at times, especially as the holidays multiply our obligations.)

I feel like I’m a failure at being an attentive and engaged citizen. My post-election sense of being overwhelmed has not gone away. I’ve found it difficult to keep up with the competing news stories and the competing narratives of single news stories. I haven’t weighed in on anything. I haven’t gotten my little “let’s get people of different political stripes together to talk” project off the ground. (Status: information gathered, dates not yet set.)

I feel kind of like I have writer’s block, except it has to do with the thinking of the whole thing, not the writing. As I become more consumed with events at home (some of them pretty stressful), I pay less attention to news from the outside. And as I pay less attention to the news, I feel increasingly less capable of any sort of mental and emotional wrangling with the world.

But I’ve been trying, when I think of it, to rely on a strategy from an earlier point in my life: putting aside my worries about what I’m not achieving and instead focusing on what I am doing in a particular moment. Usually (but not always), that “doing” is pretty constructive, even if it seems insignificant in the scheme of things.”

(Click here to read the whole post.)

—3—

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“Why must we choose a side and hold onto it so tightly?

During the campaign, of course, the “side” thing was taken to a frenzied, fevered pitch. Third-party voters like myself were told in one breath that we were essentially voting for Clinton and in the next that we were essentially voting for Trump. (The supposed beneficiaries of our votes aligning perfectly with our critics’ bogeymen.) Our votes – our actual votes – weren’t good enough. We either had to hate Trump enough to vote for Clinton or hate Clinton enough to vote for Trump. People seemed downright blinded by the binary.

But that was then, back when we were facing a black-and-white choice on a ballot. What about now?

No doubt, many will choose to continue carrying on this way. Some will think we owe allegiance to one side or the other. Some will think that any kindness or concession to the opposing side is a blow to their own. Some will think that their own side’s transgressions must be overlooked in the interest of some Important Ultimate Goal.

But I think this attachment to the binary is the absolute worst course we could take as Americans, as lovers of democracy and liberty and justice. No one wins in the downward spiral of suspicious, spiteful, partisan politics.”

(Click here to read the whole post.)

—4—

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“For all the focus on national-level politics, many (most?) of the programs and policy decisions that impact our everyday lives are formulated much closer to home than Washington, DC.

Schools, roads, assistance programs, the environment, hospitals and clinics, business incentives and regulations – the State of Maryland (and your state too, if you live elsewhere) has a hand in it all. And in turn, organizations that you and I care about – our faith communities, our schools, labor or business or other advocacy organizations – have a hand in the development of the laws, policies and regulations of the state . . .

Ninety days from now, the Senate will still be debating at least some of Trump’s appointments. We’ll still, I expect, be witnessing a tense back-and-forth between the president and the media. We’ll probably feel stuck on a whole range of issues and relationships.

But in that time, we’ll also have seen much movement at the state level. Maryland will have passed a budget and hundreds of other bills that will impact our lives for years to come. Let’s pay attention, because lot can happen in 90 days.”

(Click here to read the whole post.)

—5—

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“Today as we inaugurate a new American president, I sit at home nervous, waiting, wondering what will come of this all. I haven’t decided whether I’ll watch. I’m more likely to listen, the radio humming in the background as I busy myself with lunch and laundry and little ones.

But I’m sure to be praying.”

(Click here to read the whole post.)

—6—

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“It’s natural that we should vary in our attachment to various issues, so I don’t mean to tell one set of pro-lifers or another that they’re wrong in focusing their efforts on x,y,z. You do you: pray at an abortion clinic, volunteer at a soup kitchen, donate to Catholic Charities / Catholic Relief Services / National Right to Life. Do your part, whatever it is, to advance the dignity of human life.

But I do think that all pro-lifers should do a better job of talking about it all. Liberal pro-lifers should speak against abortion just as they speak against poverty and discrimination. Conservative pro-lifers should speak for the immigrant and the refugee just as they speak for the babies. Because this divide has become too divisive. There is too much resentment. There is too much misunderstanding. There is too much distrust. There is too much space for evil to sneak its way in.

And there are too many women who hear that pro-lifers “only care about babies until they’re born” and believe it.

The honest truth is, each side of this divide is incomplete without the other. If human life is to be respected, it’s to be respected at all stages. If human life is to be respected, it is to be respected in all forms. If we Catholic pro-lifers truly believe that each human being is created in the image and likeness of God, then we’d better talk like we do. We’d better dwell on that idea, chew on it, practice it by saying it aloud.”

(Click here to read the whole post.)

—7—

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“I’m trying to decide when to panic.

Standing where I am (somewhere in the middle, I suppose) I turn to face my friends on the left and panic is pretty much all I see. Well, panic and its more sober, productive, currently-popular relation: resistance. I see people who are more than just dismayed at the direction in which our government is heading; they fear that the system upon which we rely – a system of justice and due process and free speech and equal opportunity – is coming undone. They fear that we could be nearing the end of the American experiment.

Turning to face my friends on the right, I mostly see amusement or bemusement or even satisfaction at the Left’s distress. They think the panic is overblown. If they supported Trump’s “bull in a china shop” campaign persona, they’re thrilled to see it carried over to his presidency. If they weren’t crazy about that persona then, well, they’re mostly just relieved to see Trump heading in the right direction. Clumsy steps in the right direction are better than agile steps in the wrong one, they seem to say.”

(Click here to read the whole post.)

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“I used to think of myself as the stubborn, brave, independent type – the type who spoke the truth and stuck up for the oppressed no matter the consequences. After all, I was a kid who stood up to bullies. I regularly stick up for myself. I used to make my living advocating for the poor, the vulnerable, the stranger. I write on contentious issues – issues that wrangle with the concept of justice – all the time.

But the older, or the more self-aware, or the more flawed I become, the more I see how gutless I can be.”

(Click here to read the whole post.)

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Thanks for indulging my little catch-up! I hope you’ll check out the posts and I hope to have more for you (both here and there) soon. Have a great week!

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Interested in coming along with me as I share stories about my family and chew on the topics of motherhood, politics, and society? Like These Walls on Facebook or follow the blog via email. (Click the link on the sidebar to the right.) You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram and you can find me at my politics blog at the Catholic Review, called The Space Between.

An Insufficient Response to the Election

(Everyday Bravery, Day 18)

I don’t know about you, but the results of last week’s election have left me feeling completely overwhelmed.

First it was the election itself: While I wasn’t totally shocked that Trump won, I was surprised, and I swear it’s taken me lots of mental heavy lifting to adjust from my Clinton-framed view of what the next four years might be like to a Trump-framed view. As I said on Facebook the morning after the election, “I always considered both prospects for the presidency to carry some big negatives and some less-negatives. I’m now trying to get used to a different set than I anticipated.”

Then there are the reactions of my loved ones – everything from despair to giddiness. Many have been thrust into something like mourning. Some are struggling to grapple with what has happened. Some are grasping at straws, trying for something, anything that might undo Trump’s election. Some have taken a more productive course of action, setting the stage for four years’ worth of opposition. Others seem to be pinching themselves, delighted that a culture that has been so dominated by one (progressive) view of the world has been disrupted. They’re eager for their chance to be heard.

(Read the rest at the Catholic Review.)

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This post is the eighteenth in a series called Everyday Bravery: A Write 31 Days Challenge. Every day this month From October through however-long-it-takes-me-to-get-to-31-days I’m publishing a blog post on Everyday bravery – not the heroic kind, not the kind that involves running into a burning building or overcoming some incredible hardship. Rather, the kinds of bravery that you and I can undertake in our real, regular lives. To see the full list of posts in the series, please check out its introduction.

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Interested in coming along with me as I share stories about my family and chew on the topics of motherhood, politics, and society? Like These Walls on Facebook or follow the blog via email. (Click the link on the sidebar to the right.) You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram and you can find me at my politics blog at the Catholic Review, called The Space Between.

November 8 is Not the End: Sympathy Leading Me Forward

(Everyday Bravery, Day 15)

The turning point for me was Wednesday night’s debate. Specifically, the moment it became clear to me that Hillary Clinton was defending the indefensible (partial-birth abortion), I felt a surge in my chest: Sympathy. Every part of my clenched-up heart, which had for so long been agitated at the thought of all those pro-lifers supporting Donald Trump, just… released.

I still wasn’t there myself. I still wasn’t planning to ditch my write-in dreams. But when I heard Clinton express her support for that most tragic of offenses, I suddenly felt the weight of the obligation that many feel to support her opponent, whoever he may be. I experienced an explosive growth in the sympathy I feel towards pro-lifers who have come to a different conclusion than I have.

Read the rest at the Catholic Review.

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This post is the fifteenth in a series called Everyday Bravery: A Write 31 Days Challenge. Every day this month I’m publishing a blog post on Everyday bravery – not the heroic kind, not the kind that involves running into a burning building or overcoming some incredible hardship. Rather, the kinds of bravery that you and I can undertake in our real, regular lives. To see the full list of posts in the series, please check out its introduction.

These Walls - Everyday Bravery

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Interested in coming along with me as I share stories about my family and chew on the topics of motherhood, politics, and society? Like These Walls on Facebook or follow the blog via email. (Click the link on the sidebar to the right.) You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram and you can find me at my politics blog at the Catholic Review, called The Space Between.

Loyally Yours: A Letter to the Republican Party from Pro-life America

(Everyday Bravery, Day 10)

 

Dear Republican Party,

I know that things have been seeming kind of questionable between us lately (or at least, that other people have been questioning our relationship), so I just wanted to take a moment to reassure you:

I’m not going anywhere.

Sure, there have been some bumps on the road, some unpleasantries. I can find you disappointing. You can take me for granted. Sometimes we fight a little. Sometimes we test the limits of our relationship.

But I’m here to tell you that I really am in your corner. And I’ll stay here as long as you do one little thing for me: Continue to nominate presidential candidates who claim to be pro-life.

I’m not asking much. Your guy doesn’t have to be convincing as a pro-lifer. He doesn’t have to demonstrate any knowledge of the issue or any attachment to it or to me. He doesn’t have to talk about it much. (A mention every now and then at a Christian college is plenty.)

He doesn’t even have to talk about appointing pro-life judges. I’ll do that for him. (And anyway, I know that you, Republican Party, will make sure the pro-life judges happen. Right? Right?)

Your candidate doesn’t have to demonstrate any character or guts or grit. He doesn’t have to be honest or trustworthy. His life doesn’t have to show that he respects the institutions of marriage or the family. Heck, he can even threaten to kill the families of bad guys.

He can be a complete jerk. I mean, come at me: He can be boorish, dismissive, overbearing, mean-spirited. He can demean and belittle people. He can show disdain for the disabled and the unattractive and the unsuccessful. (In other words, for the little guy. But just not for the littlest little guy, if you catch my drift.)

He can be just awful to women. And I mean awful. He can gauge their worth by their appearance. He can rate them. He can use them for his own satisfaction. He can cheat on them and leave them. He can even brag about going up to random women and grabbing their genitalia. I’m cool.

I mean seriously – I am really, really good at taking any issue at all – even the sum of lots of issues – and comparing them to one very particular thing: abortion.

It’s a big thing, to be sure. It’s a super important, super evil thing. It may not be the total of what supposedly makes up the pro-life cause (things like euthanasia and the death penalty and maybe even health care and poverty and war are in there too, I guess), but I’m not going to bother you about the total package. Nah – as long as your main guy makes that one claim, we’re set.

Oh – and he does need to have a pro-choice opponent. But that’s no sweat. We both know the Dems would never put up a candidate who says it’s wrong to kill teeny, tiny innocent babies.

Okay. Once again, just to make sure we’re clear: I want you, Republican Party, to know that I am yours. As long as you nominate a presidential candidate who claims to be pro-life (and I know you always will), I belong to you.

I am completely willing to cast my vote for your guy with a pit in my stomach. I am willing to feel disgusting for you. I am willing to cast aside everything else I stand for, I am willing to make excuses, I am willing to minimize whatever pain your guy might cause me and others (even rape victims).

I’ll do whatever it takes. I promise.

Loyally yours,

Pro-Life America

P.S. I was hoping to not have to spell this out, but it appears I should. This is SARCASM. I may be a proud member of Pro-Life America, but I am greatly concerned about the message the pro-life movement is sending the Republican Party this election cycle. If pro-lifers will support Donald Trump, who won’t they support?

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This post is the tenth in a series called Everyday Bravery: A Write 31 Days Challenge. Every day this month I’m publishing a blog post on Everyday bravery – not the heroic kind, not the kind that involves running into a burning building or overcoming some incredible hardship. Rather, the kinds of bravery that you and I can undertake in our real, regular lives. To see the full list of posts in the series, please check out its introduction.

These Walls - Everyday Bravery

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Interested in coming along with me as I share stories about my family and chew on the topics of motherhood, politics, and society? Like These Walls on Facebook or follow the blog via email. (Click the link on the sidebar to the right.) You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram and you can find me at my politics blog at the Catholic Review, called The Space Between.

Tipping Point

(Everyday Bravery, Day 6)

Within a span of just a few minutes the other evening, I read George Matysek’s excellent article in the Catholic Review (“When the choice is Clinton or Trump, what’s a Catholic to do?”) and I looked at the stack of mail my husband had dropped on the kitchen table.

It contained my sample ballot for the presidential election.

Normally I get a little thrill of anticipation when I receive my ballot. I open it up and see my preferences listed there in black and white, and I’m satisfied at the thought that I’ll get to cast a vote for my guy. That I’ll get to have a say.

As a conservative on many issues, I’m used to feeling politically lonely in Maryland. I know that most elections aren’t going to go the way I want them to. But when I look at that ballot, somehow I always have a little hope. I guess it’s the egalitarianism of paper and ink: those two (or more) names sit right there on the page together, listed as equals.

For a moment, the polls and commentary and lopsided campaign treasuries fade away. There are simply a couple of names on a piece of paper, and I get to choose between them.

This year when I opened the ballot, however, I didn’t so much experience the thrill of anticipation as I did a funny kind of curiosity . . .

Read the rest (including how I’ll be voting for an idea this year, not a candidate) at the Catholic Review.

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This post is the sixth in a series called Everyday Bravery: A Write 31 Days Challenge. Every day this month I’m publishing a blog post on Everyday bravery – not the heroic kind, not the kind that involves running into a burning building or overcoming some incredible hardship. Rather, the kinds of bravery that you and I can undertake in our real, regular lives. To see the full list of posts in the series, please check out its introduction.

These Walls - Everyday Bravery

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Interested in coming along with me as I share stories about my family and chew on the topics of motherhood, politics, and society? Like These Walls on Facebook or follow the blog via email. (Click the link on the sidebar to the right.) You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram and you can find me at my politics blog at the Catholic Review, called The Space Between.

On My Mind (Vol. 5)

This week’s On My Mind includes more thoughts on immigration. And then even more thoughts on immigration (including a story about my husband’s family, who emigrated from Ireland). And it includes more thoughts on Donald Trump, of course.

But it also contains a little story about my six-year-old, who recently asked me something about the Zika virus:

“Is that mosquito virus here yet?” he asked.

“Mosquito virus? Do you mean Zika?”

He did.

“Well, it’s here in the United States,” I told him. “But it’s not here in our area. It’s in Florida.”

“Oh, that’s too bad for the babies there. There will be a lot of babies dying in their mommies’ tummies.”

Most people would probably be appalled to know that my six-year-old was thinking of such things. I’ll admit to feeling a little guilty about it. But mostly, I just felt proud. My boy is paying attention. He’s understanding. He’s asking questions. He’s caring. And he wrapped up our conversation by suggesting that we pray for the babies.

“God, please take care of the babies in their mommies’ tummies. Please keep them from getting the mosquito virus. That’s all.”

Read the rest at the Catholic Review.

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People Move, Things Change, Families Matter: Thinking through the issue of immigration

Given last week’s confusing stream of Trump-related immigration news and the candidate’s announcements that today he will both travel to Mexico to meet its president and give a major immigration policy speech in Arizona, I thought I’d offer my own thoughts on the issue.

It is, of course, a really tough one – one that seems to be ever-controversial, ever-divisive, and ever able to lose you friends and win you enemies. It can take misunderstandings, resentments, fears, frustrations, and economic and cultural insecurities and tie them up into tight, tricky knots.

Yet I think the issue is one that is especially worth pondering.

Read the rest at the Catholic Review.

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On My Mind (Vol. 4)

This week’s round-up of my thoughts on political stuff, etc. includes Trump’s odd outreach to minorities, Hillary’s never-ending email saga, annoyance about the “burkini” kerfluffle, and… some less divisive stuff.

Apparently Donald Trump has been attempting to reach out to African Americans, though “attempting” might be a generous word for it. His statements have come across more like, “Black people, your lives are complete and total disasters, but HEY, I love you!”

What a novel idea: insult people in order to persuade them to vote for you.

Truly, though, I was flummoxed when I heard his remarks. How could he think such statements would be persuasive to black voters? It seemed to me that he wasn’t really trying to persuade them, but rather checking off a box on The Presidential Candidate’s To-Do List, which must include “reach out to minorities” right along with action items like “pretend you like babies” (whoops!) and “eat in folksy-looking diners.”

Or was he trying to persuade someone else? I heard a reporter (sorry – can’t remember who) suggest that Trump’s “outreach” to black voters might actually be aimed at suburban white women. And aahhh, yes – that made more sense. The white suburban mom demographic (and I speak from experience here) seems to be uncomfortable with Trump on a number of counts, but a big flashing neon one is his treatment of minorities. We don’t want to think of ourselves as racist, we don’t want to be associated with racists, and so we need assurances that our presidential candidates aren’t racist. I guess.

Read more at the Catholic Review.

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Weighing the Politics of Death and Destruction

I can’t quite decide how I feel about one of the major themes of this year’s presidential election: Death and Destruction. That is, “Our country has been/is being/will be destroyed and we’re all going to DIE.”

Yes, that’s hyperbolic, but is it far off base?

Donald Trump’s rise was fueled to a large degree by people who think that President Obama or liberal politicians or establishment politicians in general have been running our country into the ground. In their telling, the great country we once knew is either dead and gone or on its way to becoming so.

On the other side of it, many Americans worry (and I confess to indulging in such worries myself) that Trump’s election could trigger the very destruction that his supporters see as already in motion.

Oh, and some of us are Very, Very worried that we’ll die at the hands of violent Islamic terrorists. Or violent criminals – especially the immigrant sort. Others of us are Very, Very worried that we’ll die at the hands of NRA-card-carrying, gun-toting fanatics.

Read the rest at the Catholic Review.

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On My Mind (Vol. 3)

—1—

I’ve been following the Democratic National Convention this week just as I did the Republican National Convention the week before. (Much to the chagrin of my little children, who find “Grownups Standing and Talking,” as we call it, infinitely more boring than Paw Patrol and The Lion Guard.)

Comparing the two conventions, I have to say that the Democrats have done a better job of the thing. “Bernie or Bust” drama aside, the Democrats’ evening programs have seemed much more solid – packed with a strategic selection of speakers who have made coherent cases for their party’s platform and nominee. (I couldn’t help but feel that the organizers of the Republican National Convention felt compelled to take whomever they could get.)

I’m curious to see what kind of a bounce the convention will generate for Clinton. I think it’ll exceed Trump’s, but pretty much every prediction I’ve made so far about Trump has been wrong, so who knows?

—2—

All that said, I’ve heard a lot at the convention that that I disagree with. (No surprise, as I’m not a Democrat.) And I’m finding the Party’s persistence in advancing abortion on its (literal) national stage to be especially frustrating.

Read the rest (including thoughts on terrorism and the martyrdom of Father Jacques Hamel) at the Catholic Review.

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