Friday, July 1, 2016

7QT: Seven Quick Takes (Volume XL)

I'm linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum to bring you seven quick takes from my world this week.


This has been a LONG week.  Next week is a 4-day week, and last week was a 4-day work week for me (took a day off).  I knew it would feel long, but WOW has it been painfully long.  T.G.I.F.


My husband was a victim of identity theft a few years ago.  Someone illegally filed taxes under his name.  Recently he has been hit several more times with fraudulent credit card accounts opened in his name using fake addresses and hacking into his email.  And this week someone used our address illegally to open an account, which is mail fraud.  It's so exhausting and time-consuming to deal with this.  I wish people would use their time and creativity to get a job, rather than commit crimes. Supposedly the Infant Jesus of Prague is good to turn to in times of financial hardship.  Be diligent in monitoring your records, and pray for the conversion of these people.  A simple internet search revealed the identity, LinkedIn account, Facebook account, and recent mugshot for the mail fraud perpetrator. Amazing.  It was all I could do not to publicly shame this person, which would have been really stupid and counter-productive, but I get so angry.  I digress.  In this age of technology and information, it's likely a matter of time before it happens to everyone at some point.      


This article about Living with High-Functioning Anxiety is making the rounds this week.  I thought it was really good.  It took a therapist telling me (at age 33) that I had panic attacks before I knew that what I experienced was a panic attack.  It was normal to me, especially when my parents were involved.  I thought everyone felt that way, at least sometimes.  I'm still unpacking what my childhood did to me.  For others recovering from abuse, maybe you understand what I mean.  Maybe you're a recovering perfectionist, maybe you have anxiety, PTSD, panic attacks.  Maybe you're still unraveling and trying to understand, like I am.  Maybe you have a hard time in certain environments because of your past.  If so, the article may help you feel less alone.  It neglects the spiritual element, and I do have hope because of my faith.  I also believe in physical, medical help, not just praying and spiritual solutions to very real problems.  Maybe this article can help you put a name to the way you experience life.  Recognizing it is often the first step toward healing.


Those of us from religiously abusive backgrounds can often find it traumatic to read the Bible.  The words were used against us, used in unhealthy ways, misinterpreted, proof-texted to justify bad behavior, etc.  It has helped me a lot, as a Catholic, to hear the word proclaimed in a liturgical setting with reverence and with no interpretation (until the homily).  It has also helped that the common translation used in mass is different from the one I am most familiar with, so even though the text is the same, there are subtle differences between the traumatic version of the Bible from my youth and the Bible I most often hear read at mass.

This article addresses what to do when reading the Bible is difficult.  I found it pretty helpful.  It recommends to change translations in order to hear things differently (like a band covering a song puts their own twist on it).  I have also heard that it's good to read the Bible aloud slowly and in your own voice in order to replace the negative memory of the Bible read by someone else's abusive voice. There are also many techniques, such as lectio divina, which can help you slow down, meditate on words one at a time, and re-construct your understanding.     

The thing that is so sad to me is that I know the Bible is God's Word...what I mean by that as a Catholic, and what some fundamentalists mean by that is probably different.  I hate that a good and holy book, a source of our faith, has been so mis-used and abused to the point that some cannot even read the Bible.  Talk about a trick of old hairy legs.  Having said that, God is love.  He is beyond the Bible.  He is in the Church, the Sacraments, in nature, in the soul of everyone we know and love.  We can experience God in other ways when the Bible just doesn't help.

Our pastor taught us about progressive revelation (not the same as progressivism).  This viewpoint has saved my view of the Bible and helped it not be an abusive, re-traumatizing book for me.  It's the idea that God revealed himself slowly, over time.  First, it was to the Jewish people, revealing that there was only one God, and calling them to live a certain, strange way.  They never really got it.  They were rebellious and fell back into their old ways many times.  It started with 10 commandments.  Finally, after centuries of relationship and covenant, broken and re-committed, we were ready for the revelation of Jesus.  Reading the Old Testament is like reading the diary of a teenager, our pastor says.  It is their idea and understanding of God, in so far he has revealed himself up to that point.  It is limited in their understanding (thus, the teenager part), and they don't have the revelation of Christ and salvation that later comes into our understanding.    

When I read a troubling passage that asks God to smite enemies, I think, yeah...they have a teenager's understanding of who God is.  They think he hates the "bad guys" as much as they do.  There is darkness and light together.  Their understanding of God was limited to what He had revealed at that time in history.

I'm not a theologian, this is just my armchair/laywoman's explanation of something that was helpful to me.    


This weekend I get to see one of my oldest and dearest friends.  We were bridesmaids in each other's weddings.  I've known her since the 5th grade.  Oddly, through all the changes, moves, and development over the years, we are sort of still the same little girls who met in 5th grade.  She is one of the most full-of-grace people I know (and not even Christian).  I'm excited to see her, and she is pregnant with their first child.


In honor of Independence Day, I'll be doing some cooking this weekend.  My in-laws are hosting a cook-out.  I'll probably bring dessert, salmon burgers, or baked beans.  We'll see.  I really love to cook, now that I've learned a thing or two.


Last week I finished up a novena to Our Lady Undoer of Knots.  A special intention came up after that, and the first thing that came into my mind was that I've got to pray to St. Joseph.  My husband and I are now doing a novena to St. Joseph.  My husband is Italian, and his family has a special devotion to St. Joseph.  It was on his feast day a few years ago that we were able to find the house we now live in.  I trust he will help us get an answer this prayer too.

St. Joseph, pray for us!

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