Friday, 5 July 2013

7QT Vol 12: Linkses and Other Things

So I am in the midst of a busy time, and therefore my beloved blog takes a backseat. In fact I won't be posting for the next three weeks, so this all you're getting till the end of July. Enjoy!


I love me some Jackie and Bobby! Who the heck are Jackie and Bobby, you ask. Jackie is a Catholic speaker and singer-songwriter, and Bobby is her fiance, and I found them through the Lifeteen blog. They have a wedding blog, where they wrote about their love story, and chastity and relationships and waiting and pornography all that good stuff. There's just something about them that I love... maybe because they remind me of me, maybe because I hope to have a romance as sweet as theirs, maybe because they speak my language- faith + intelligence + humour, maybe because we're kind of in the same business. Whatever it is, I'm excited each time they update their blog (which is very rarely).

The Love Story

Jackie and Bobby (the blog)

How to Know You've Found Your True Love (NCR article)


Everyone seems to have read/heard of Ann Voskamp except me. I have however heard of Katie Davis, and even read the book she wrote- 'Kisses From Katie'. Anyway Ann visited Katie in Uganda, and wrote this beautiful post.

When You’re Done with Pundits, Soul Wrestling & Looking at the Sky: {25 Things I learned from staying with Katie Davis}

These words are ones I'm pondering, and will be for a long time:
"Our actual theology is best expressed in our actual hospitality. And I don’t mean that hospitality is one quaint ministry for those good in the kitchen and keeping their house picked up. Hospitality isn't for the good housekeepers — it’s the grid of life for anyone keeping company with Christ. Hospitality is meant to shape our churches and politics, our work and our schools, our homes and our faith and our schedules and our meals and our lives...
The radical practice of hospitality begins with each child, each knock, each phone call: Every interruption of the day is a manifestation of Christ.
There are no interruptions in a day. There are only manifestations of Christ."

Do you struggle with being critical about everything? It's not all bad, there IS a silver lining.

The Blessing and Curse of a Critical Mind (ssp*)


Oh my gosh, I need to go do things! And I have no more links. So last three random quick takes. (Yes, this counts as one.)


Something I'm thinking about: I believe that joy is supposed to be a normal part of the Christian life. Then why am I so often not joyful? I have a very blessed life, and no real reason to be down about anything- work that I love, people that I love, a home, a sufficiently comfortable life, dreams that I'm working toward... and yet I so often am tense and anxious. I think for me there are two main reasons: negativity (the downside of the aforementioned critical mind) and very connected, fear (how can I be happy when they are so many possibly scary things that could happen at any moment?). Something to bring to the Lord.


In the Ann Voskamp article I linked to above, she says "The answer to everything is relationship." I believe her. That's it. Love = Relationship, and only love matters. Yet, every now and again, I long for a relationship-free life, where I sit with my laptop, writing, editing newsletters, and reading blogs, and never leaving the house. The introvert rears her head. But I KNOW in the long run, no matter how much I long for that right now, a relationship-free life would not satisfy me, nor make me the person I believe I was called to be. Still, I'm grateful for the times when people ask me to serve BY sitting in front of a laptop creating newsletters.


The reason I'm not going to be online for the next few weeks is because I'm going on a trip to volunteer with the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata (my second time). Super long train journey ahead- perfect opportunity to catch up on reading! See you on the other side!

Go to Jen's for quick takes from other bloggers.

*Shameless self-promotion

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The Blessing and Curse of a Critical Mind

Image from stock.xchng

When we were kids, my siblings and I were the ones who would ALWAYS and IMMEDIATELY pick out the flaw in any movie we were watching, argument that anyone was proposing, or lecture that a teacher was giving. We were the annoying kids who always could play devil's advocate, or say 'But what about...?' Everyone knows someone like that, and boy, are they annoying.

When I was about 14, some of my friends decided to 'break up' with me because they found my over critical attitude unbearable (among other reasons, and yes, I'm over it, 13 years later). I would criticize everything and everybody.

As I have grow older, I've definitely grown in empathy, and have taken a good look at myself through others' eyes, and toned down the critical attitude quite a bit. But I haven't let it go completely. I was thinking about it yesterday (yes, I was critically thinking about thinking critically) and decided that it both a gift and a curse. (Yay, numbered lists ahoy!)

1. It is a curse because I cannot do ANYTHING without analyzing and carrying out debates in my head on every conceivable topic. It's like there's this person in my head, pointing out flaws, and I have to defend and explain my actions or a particular philosophy to them. That means I can rarely just sit down and enjoy anything. I can't switch it off. I am ALWAYS thinking "This would work better if..." or "That acting is so overdone!" or "If only the priest would read the mass announcements like he's really talking to people", etc. Or I'm wincing at shallow and jumpy mass 'hymns'... directly after receiving Communion.

2. I often see the flaw more clearly than I see the whole. Like noticing the black spot on the white sheet. I don't say 'Oh, what a wonderfully white sheet.' I say 'Ooh, black spot.' And of course that carries into relationships. Instead of thinking, "Well, that was a nice young man I just met", I'm thinking "Well, he was nice, but maybe he's a little too... predictable." So what if he is? Does that take away from his niceness? Is it important that I evaluate his personality, and pronounce a judgement on it?

3. It is so tiring to be around me! My poor friends and family have had to bear the brunt of my issues. Because all this stuff is going on in my head, it often comes out to the people I spend the most time with... and it drives them nuts. I have to 'talk it out'. If I heard a talk, or was in a situation that made me a little uncomfortable, I have to minutely examine what exactly about it was troubling me. After I'm done, I feel better, but maybe my poor audience is thinking about things that had never crossed their mind before.

4. It is too easy to be cynical about everything, to take off the rose-tinted glasses, and replace them with dark glasses, where the glass always seems half-empty. (Yay, mixing metaphors again!) And cynicism saps the joy out of everything. Seeing the worst possible motive for everything is draining. You can't move forward, because you're trying so hard to not slide backwards (with all those other fools).

5. Over critical people are often overly critical of themselves too. Even in the midst of doing something good, they can't feel good about it because they KNOW that there are some impure motives mixed in there. They often can't be wholly happily themselves, because they are critiquing themselves too, just as they critique the world around them.

6. It's pretty easy to go from criticizing, to judging, to writing people off, or labeling them. 

So you are saying at this point "Why the HECK haven't you let it go completely, Sue???"

Okay, this is where the blessing comes in.

I can't let it go, because I don't believe I was made to be a gullible naive idiot. God gave me the power of critical thinking for a reason.

1. I value truth. That means I won't say something is good unless I really thought it was good. I won't be a Christian unless I'm pretty sure that Christianity is true. I actually believe that there IS objective truth, so just seeing the good in everything isn't satisfying intellectually. Is anything better than anything else? If so, why? I'm willing to think. I'm willing to seek. If people will not seek, how will they find? If one is not willing to examine the truth or falsity of a particular assumption, how they know they are not living their lives based on a lie?

2. I'm not super-easy to fool. It's easier to see past the fakeness, the appearances, the lies that sometimes people even believe themselves. I'm not satisfied with easy answers. I had the doubtful triumph of having my suspicions about some con artist who recently came into my family's life proved true. I was the only one saying "Really? You believe all that? How do we know any of it is true?" My brother called me a suspicious conspiracy nut. All I can say is "I informed you thusly, P."

3. It's easier for me to explain my faith to others. I often give talks starting with the obvious questions and doubts that people have... because I've had the same questions and doubts. I'm not just forwarding a cliched 'Jesus loves you. Click Like if you believe' picture. I'm sharing my own intellectual faith journey, with all the questions that were answered... by asking hard questions. (I have not had all my questions answered, but enough to move forward.)

4. I not only see flaws, but I see how they can be fixed, or improved, or changed. Refusing to see a problem might be easier and more pleasant and annoy less people at the time, but in the long run, the problem is only going to get worse, and will most probably blow up in your face. Not looking at a problem does not mean the problem stops existing. It's a gift to not only see a problem, but to trace the problem to its roots, and propose a cure. Sometime I wish people would pay me to tell them what's wrong with them, and what they can do to improve. (Isn't that a consultant?) (I sometimes offer to go to Confession with my siblings, in case they forget their sins :-D)

5. The world needs prophets. Someone has to be the little boy shouting 'The Emperor's got no clothes on!' even when it makes everyone intensely uncomfortable, so they all try to shush you. The trick of course is when and how and to whom you mention that the Emperor is as naked as a wee babby. (Yes, Brave reference.) There are just too many lies floating around the world today, especially about the important stuff, especially in the morals and messages that Hollywood packages so nicely and sells us. (I like Fr. Robert Barron for some plain-speaking prophetic video commentaries about everything.)

6. It's more interesting to be around me, because I'm less likely to use tired cliches, or say what everyone expects me to say. It also increases the value of my praise a hundredfold. You know how little you value a compliment if it comes from someone who always says nice things to everyone as a matter of course. It's nice of them, of course, but it says more about them, than the person being complimented. If you want an honest evaluation, come to me.

So yes, I've decided not to completely switch off my critical thinking. It is a weapon that needs to be wielded very, very carefully though. But that's another blog post now, isn't it?