Happy Saint Patrick's day everyone. Coincidentally, this is the 1 week anniversary of this blog. Thus far, I've gotten over 250 views and a few followers...WAY MORE than I could have every imagined considering my lack of experience in the Catholic Media scene and lack of experience publicly blogging.
So why did I start now? Well, I had given up social media (Facebook, Twitter, Livejournal) and online games for Lent. I have done this for the past few years because I feel that these tools are something that I tend to take advantage of...and use far too often. Though Facebook and Twitter enabled me to keep in touch with friends and family all over the world, keeping in touch quickly turned into 1 or two sentences of needless status updates or however many characters on Twitter. Though I am pretty strong in my faith (could be stronger and am actively working on it), I wasn't necessarily doing anything about it besides partake in the occasional theological discussion with my sister...who happens to study theology.
As any other Catholic, I have had my struggles with different aspects of my own religious life throughout the years. However, instead of simply giving up on religion whenever I came across a problem of some sort (as many do, unfortunately)....I did what comes naturally to me, I sought answers. Yet, the more I came to know, the more I realized that I know so little. There is so much to God, Catholicism, etc. than one person can ever understand on their own. Fortunately, there's help....a map of sorts.....as C.S. Lewis put so eloquently:
"In the same way, if a man has once looked at the Atlantic from the beach, and then goes and looks at a map of the Atlantic, he also will be turning from something real to something less real: turning from real waves to a bit of coloured paper. But here comes the point. The map is admittedly only coloured paper, but there are two things you have to remember about it. In the first place, it is based on what hundreds and thousands of people have found out by sailing the real Atlantic. In that way it has behind it masses of experience just as real as the one you could have from the beach; only, while yours would be a single glimpse, the map fits all those different experiences together. In the second place, if you want to go anywhere, the map is absolutely necessary. As long as you are content with walks on the beach, your own glimpses are far more fun than looking at a map. But the map is going to be more use than walks on the beach if you want to get to America.
Now, Theology is like the map. Merely learning and thinking about the Christian doctrines, if you stop there, is less real and less exciting than the sort of thing my friend got in the desert. Doctrines are not God: they are only a kind of map. But that map is based on the experience of hundreds of people who really were in touch with God-experiences compared with which any thrills or pious feelings you and I are likely to get on our own are very elementary and very confused. And secondly, if you want to get any further, you must use the map. You see, what happened to that man in the desert may have been real, and was certainly exciting, but nothing comes of it. It leads nowhere. There is nothing to do about it. In fact, that is just why a vague religion–all about feeling God in nature, and so on-is so attractive. It is all thrills and no work; like watching the waves from the beach. But you will not get to Newfoundland by studying the Atlantic that way, and you will not get eternal life by simply feeling the presence of God in flowers or music. Neither will you get anywhere by looking at maps without going to sea. Nor will you be very safe if you go to sea without a map."
"Merely thinking" was my problem. Where was my contribution to this map? I had thought up a bunch of maps....but none of them were on paper. None of them were accessible by those who needed them most! I was merely thinking about God and not sharing anything. As far as Facebook and Twitter go, I was sharing very little about the things that truly drive me. Everything had turned into some form of attention-getting activity. Twitter became the microphone I used to tell people "Hey, I'm alive! I've made a funny/ironic observation!" Facebook had become the mirror I used to flatter myself with statuses or pictures that I felt flattered me in some way or showed me in a positive light. These sites had turned into the "Barbara Parade...." places where I could dress up like a Mummer and show the world just how highly I thought about myself. Whoah...talk about a waste of time, especially when I am trying to be more humble in my day-to-day life.
This blog, however, isn't flattering or perfect...but it's as true as I can make it. What you get here is a flawed individual sharing some of the things that make her the most vulnerable....personal experiences, unflattering reflections of who I can be, and the strengths/weaknesses in my faith. In a sense, you get the whole package here as I attempt to share just how God has touched my life and what it's like to be a Catholic Christian when you're a science geek who is doing what she can to survive her first year as a PhD student and become a better person. In this blog you see some of my prayers here. You see some of my reflections. You see some of my thoughts. In short, you see everything I don't show on Facebook or Twitter.