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Defending Your Faith...

Mawage and Twu Wuv Part II is taking some time to finish....there's  just so much I have to say and so much more that I want to say. Therefore, instead of leaving everyone hanging, I've decided to share a letter that I once wrote to my alma mater's student-run newspaper. I will admit, this was not my favorite newspaper for quite some time because there was a pretty lengthy period where this paper was little more than a gossip rag. By the looks of it, however, some things have changed over the years and the quality of this paper may have improved. I kept the letter I wrote through the years because it serves as a reminder for what needs to be done whenever we see or read something that is meant to offend Catholics (or other folk). I'm not telling you to run for pitchforks and torches whenever someone tells the joke about the sleepwalking nun. However, I am telling you to DO something whenever the opportunity arrives...whether it is telling a friend to just stop with an offensive comment or simply writing a polite letter to a news station. Play your strengths. If you're a blogger, blog. If you're a writer, write. If you are a Thoreau nut, try peaceful forms of civil disobedience. Just make sure to use common sense and avoid harming yourself and others at all costs.

I have read somewhere (most likely one of the books by Gabriel Amorth) that indifference was the cause for a good number of the angels falling when war broke out in heaven. There were a number of angels that openly sided with Lucifer against God. A number of angels, however, stood by the sidelines without really openly choosing a side. Instead of taking action, they decided to see who would win in the end and did nothing to help God's cause. They didn't take up arms, they didn't help the "good guys," and they didn't proclaim the battle cry of "Quis ut Deus!" Perhaps they defied God in their hearts but were too cowardly to do anything about it. Perhaps they agreed with God, but were too afraid to take up arms. Perhaps they doubted God and were willing to serve "the other guy" if the other guy came out on top. Perhaps they were simply indifferent and didn't really care who won or not as long as they could continue carrying on as they always had. In any case, it appears as though indifference can be just as bad as outwardly opposing.

All you Lord of the Rings buffs know what I am talking about. Just take a look at the roles of Saruman, Gandalf, Radagast, and the seldom-mentioned blue wizards in Middle Earth. Each wizard had a responsibility. Gandalf fulfilled his, Saruman rebelled against his, Radagast kind of (maybe) helped out a little bit, and the other guys seemed to ignore it altogether. Guess which one made it to the Undying Lands? That's right, Gandalf (the one who did his duty). Sorry for the nerdy reference, I've been watching Lord of the Rings while typing.

Another good example, for the less geeky crowd is something like abortion (another hot topic that will certainly lose me readers). Imagine a pregnant teen comes to your door, in need of help. You can help this mother out by giving her shelter and support (and possibly save the child).You can take this teenager to an abortion clinic (and possibly aid in the killing of this child). You can also do nothing, which may also lead to the death of the child even if you weren't "technically" involved. There are a number of things you can do or not do. However, the important thing to remember here is that sins of omission can be just as bad as sins of commission....and even worse at times.

In any event, never be afraid to defend your faith (in a peaceful and nonviolent way). You may end up stepping on a few toes here and there as you defend your faith...but ultimately people will get the hint and back down from Catholic-bashing (or other forms of religion bashing). Intolerance is intolerance, regardless of what person is being bashed. Trust me, I spent enough years being silent to realize that silence does nothing to stop intolerance...and enough to encourage it.

So here's the letter. I hope you don't mind this "Filler Material" post.
"To the M-- staff:

In the January 31 edition of the M--, there was a mention of the Ash Wednesday services to he held in the Student Center. I feel the need to point out that some of the terminology used to describe these religious services as well as their attendees was extremely offensive and disrespectful. As a paper that prides itself as the “Student Voice of M-- University,” I would have expected your writers to show more respect when writing about a religious event that is treated with a great deal of solemnity by its observers. I would have most certainly have expected a little more sensitivity than the following:

“ASHES TO ASHES: For all those reformed heathens out there, kick off Lent with a bang in the SC Ballrooms this week. For the M--U Catholic on the go, the services will be held during the common hours at 2:30 pm. Sacrificing some of your lounge time is a small price to pay for the safety of your eternal soul.”

As a Catholic, I treat Ash Wednesday as the beginning of a journey towards reconciliation with God. It is not an event meant to “kick off Lent with a bang.” Such a description demeans some of my strongest beliefs. I find it disheartening that my campus paper would be so callous in describing this day of penitence that is revered by Catholics and other Christians around the world. It saddens me that this “student voice” can judge my beliefs in such a crude manner by making a joke of this event. I am sure that the words used by this paper in describing this event would offend members of any other religion had they been used to describe events such as Ramadan, Vesak, Yom Kippur, etc. While I do not expect an apology for the tactlessness used in this description, I am asking that your paper be more knowledgeable as well as respectful of any religious event they choose to advertise in the future.
I would also expect that the M-- be less judgmental of any event’s potential attendees. I, like many others, have had my struggles with my faith. However, I do not acknowledge myself a “reformed heathen.” I consider the writer’s use of this word to be extremely disrespectful towards Ash Wednesday attendees. There are many reasons why people choose to take part in Ash Wednesday services. People take part of this event for many their own personal reasons. Some do it out of penance, others to celebrate salvation in Christ, and others to take part in a tradition, etc. In other words, each attendee takes part in this service to fulfill his or her own spiritual purpose. I do not think that labeling us all as “reformed heathens” does any justice to our individual intentions. I find “reformed heathens” to be a very discourteous umbrella term that displays the writer’s own ignorance about this event and what it means to different people.
The part of this description that I found most offensive was “Sacrificing some of your lounge time is a small price to pay for the safety of your eternal soul.” I find the publication of this sentence by the M-- to be an extremely offensive form of religious intolerance. Contrary to what this sentence suggests, the Catholic Church does not go around condemning people to Hell just because they do not go to an Ash Wednesday service. I have always had to deal with people making assumptions about my faith and the way that the Catholic Church operates. However, your newspaper should know better than to aid in the proliferation of these assumptions. It is blind assumptions such as these that often lead to conflicts among those of different religions.
M-- University prides itself in the diversity found within its student body, faculty, and staff. In publishing words meant to mock a specific group and/or its practices, the M-- does a disservice to every other group that it is supposed to represent. I understand that some may think I am taking this matter too seriously, but I am one who believes that tolerance and equality are to be practiced at all times. I believe that all people should be respected regardless of their ethnicity, creed, or race. In mocking one group on campus, you are essentially demonstrating to the rest of the campus that it is okay to mock any group on campus. You may mock the Catholics now, but ask yourselves, which groups will you inadvertently mock next? I would also like for you to imagine how you would feel if your own personal beliefs, race, or ethnicity were mocked by a campus paper. Surely, you would not consider this paper to be any “student voice” let alone the “Student Voice of M-- University.”
I would like to encourage your writers to treat events, such as Ash Wednesday, with the same respect that they would give to any other religious event. I would also like to encourage them to treat every group on campus with the same respect that they expect from others. I am sure that the majority of students on campus would appreciate it if your writers began to thoroughly research any type of religious observance before they decide to use their own prejudices as the basis for what they write. I am also sure that these students would appreciate it if your editors did the same."
Never be afraid to stand up for the things you love.

Pax Vobiscum

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