Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Is nothing sacred anymore??? I hope not.

So, I heard on the news this morning, in response to fears about Swine Flu, the catholic church is making some changes.

Yep. Many churches are removing the holy water from the fronts of churches. This statement from a chancellor in Quebec City, kind of grossed me out a bit.

"In some churches the holy water is changed frequently, but there are churches that leave it there for months, turning [it] into culture fluid”.

Ewwww…. Double ewwwwwwwwwwwww…. Blech.

As a lapsed catholic, I used to dip my fingers in that water, oh at least on a yearly basis. (Yeah, I was that kind of catholic, which makes my ‘lapse’ kind of anticlimactic. I’m sure they don’t miss me too much). I have a fairly casual relationship with dirt. I’m not one of those germaphobes, who uses sanitizer at regular intervals. I firmly believe that letting your kids get dirty on a regular basis makes them stronger in the long run. (My offspring were rarely on antibiotics as children, no ear infections.) But that comment about the holy water turning into a culture fluid really did me in. And then I got past the grossness factor, and thought about how absolutely hilarious it is, that the catholic church is admitting that holy water is not some absolute protector against everything. They’re actually saying that holy water has the potential to spread disease. (Along with sharing communion and shaking hands)

(I hope I’m not going to offend anyone, please, if you’re catholic, don’t read any further. You probably shouldn’t have read up till now…. This is your warning.)

In the bible, Jesus uses spit, holy water and clay to heal a man. It’s used in the ritual of exorcism and to overcome witchcraft. It’s believed to have healing properties. It can be used to ward off vampires. I’m not sure if it has any effect on zombies.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that the catholic church has gotten to the point where they’re not so arrogant that they can’t change.

But they’ve got a long way to go, yet.

My dad used to say that the church made rules for people in order to protect them, because the general populace wasn’t educated enough to understand some things. Hence the ban against pork in the jewish faith. Because people didn’t understand that they could get sick if it wasn’t properly prepared, the church told people just to avoid it. The ban against meat on Fridays was to stretch the supply of meat, when there wasn’t enough of it to go around. (During WWII, my dad said that his priest told them that if they could get meat, they should eat it; don’t worry about what day it is) But that’s his opinion. I’m sure there are other reasons for the rules they made up.

So, I’m glad that the church figures that we’re intelligent enough to know the real reason for the removal of holy water. And I’m glad that I’m lapsed enough not to worry about catching anything from the holy water.

Full disclosure: I do have a bottle of holy water at home. I got it from a priest in this church in a small town in the Netherlands, called Beverwijk. My grandfather was on the crew that built the church. Apparently the water is from Lourdes (the place, not Madonna’s daughter), so I keep it in case of vampires. You never know when there will be an infestation. They seem to be more mainstream these days. But now, at least I know it won’t protect me from Swine Flu.

So, suck on that.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Higher education and the function of parents.

Imagine my surprise when my daughters had the audacity to turn 18 this past August, without asking for permission or anything. Not that it was that much of a shock, I guess. They’d been threatening to do it all year, and had lobbed reminders at me, nearly daily. They each programmed their cell phone to count down the days.

With the whole ‘turning 18’ thing, came the incredible task of getting Offspring #2 ready for university. (Offspring #1 decided to put off the advanced education thing until next September, thereby staving off the onset of my empty nest syndrome. Very kind of her.)

So, Offspring #2 is now suitably ensconced in residence at Brock University. (Which, I discovered during the campus tour last spring, has a Oenology Degree available. Had I known that, 20 years ago, I’d have followed a vastly different career path. Who knew such a thing even existed? However, I’d probably need a liver transplant about now, so maybe things happened for the best.)

It’s a strange thing, as a mother, sending one of your offspring out into the world. If you look at it, intellectually, it’s a sign that you’ve done your job right. The function of a parent is to grow these little darlings up into people that become valuable members of society. So, when a child goes off to university, you should greet it with the proper aplomb and ceremony. Yeah…

As the days (and now weeks) passed by, I became more sure of my ability to survive this next step in parenting. I’m becoming more sure of her abilities to survive and grow outside of my direct line of vision. She’s doing laundry; she’s eating the right things, getting to bed at a fairly reasonable hour. She’s making friends, and going to classes on time. All the things I’d make sure she was doing. I’m proud of her.

Offspring #1 remains at home, for now. She’s learning from her sister, how difficult it is to go out on your own. I’m glad that she’s decided not to go away yet, and I hope I’ll be ready when it comes time for her to go. #1 consents to give me hugs when I need them (she’s not the huggiest person in the world, not sure how that happened), and we’re helping each other through this. (She’d like people to think she’s the strong one, but... I think she’s pretty mushy inside, actually)

So far, this milestone in parenting has gone ok.

So... suck on that.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

David Foster Wallace, sadness, and life.

David Foster Wallace is a writer that was previously unknown to me, until I heard of him on last year. He killed himself last September.

At times like this, I feel like I'm incredibly unaware of what is going on in the world of literature. Time magazine included his book, Infinite Jest, in the list of 100 most influential books. (1923 - 2006) How could i not know who this man is? Was.

It’s not a surprise to me that he committed suicide. During the past 20 years of working in the business of psychiatry, I’ve come to know an incredible number of creative and talented people, who are plagued by depression. I’ve got a few theories on the subject, and I’m sure there has been research done about this subject. I don’t think it can be boiled down to statistics and numbers.

(Side note: I’ve just finished reading his review of A Dictionary of Modern American Usage by Bryan A. Garner. (ADMAU) It’s causing me to be overly aware of all the mistakes I make. I’m trying to correct the ones I know about, and trying not to be paranoid about all the ones I know I’ve missed. )

Mr. Wallace was a contributing editor of Harper’s Magazine, and shortly after his death, they released all of their content that was written by him. I, being the nerd (or SNOOT) that I am, of course printed it all up. Then, being the procrastinator that I am, I put it away to ‘read later’. I just found it back last week, and I’ve spent the intervening time reading his works.

Of course, reading his work posthumously puts a whole different spin on things, doesn’t it? Reading “The Depressed Person”, a short story about a woman’s experience with depression, the loss of a therapist to apparent suicide, and being a burden to her “Support System”, you have to wonder how much of this was autobiographical. The review of ADMAU gives glimpses into his life, how his parents were highly educated, and their attention to proper language usage made things difficult for him when he was growing up. (you know, nerdifying him as well) His name for people who pay way too much attention to proper language usage is SNOOT, and he calls the children of those people “SNOOTlets” So, when I read about how the “SNOOTlets tend to have a very hard social time of it in school… When his peers are giving the SNOOTlet monstrous quadruple Wedgies or holding him down and taking turns spitting on him…” I had to wonder if this was his experience.

During the writing of this post, a friend made the choice to take her life... This is no longer an intellectual discussion with myself...

Although i have respect for personal decisions, including the one to take one's own life, it is something I will never understand. It reinforces my belief that there are some people who think too much, who feel too much, and that sometimes that burden is too much to take. I know that people will make decisions like this, and I don't believe that there's anything we can really do to change their minds, no matter how hard we try. When people are truly suicidal, when they've made that decision, they don't give any outward indication of how they feel. They're past the point of talking about, of being talked out of it. They've made their decision.