Catholics and $$

I do not understand St. Patrick’s Day. How is this a holiday we all celebrate? I mean..it’s a Catholic holiday. A white Catholic holiday. How did it become a national celebration?

Oh yeah. Beer.

But seriously, if we’re going to take a holiday that was religious and cultural and apply it to all, how ’bout we include some other religions/cultures’ holidays, too. No? OK, just saying… I’m not wearing green. I didn’t think about it. Because I do not care. I extra don’t-care as a disgruntled former Catholic :-) So sorry if I stay out of the holiday spirit.

Speaking of being a disgruntled former Catholic, I’m currently reading The Sparrow, which I wrote about in yesterday’s Teaser Tuesday. It’s a very, very interesting book about a Jesuit mission trip to another planet. Written in such a way that I’m moving through it slowly and carefully, trying to keep everything straight, and fascinated..but it’s complex enough in how the story is told that I’m not sucked in and burning through it.

Anyway.

This morning on the bus I came across some passages I found fascinating. As background (PSEUDO SPOILER ALERT – from what I can tell what I’m going to describe is not a major plot element, just a little romantic bit that I don’t even know will lead anywhere, but it’s not apparent at the start of the book) Emilio is a priest, and while he’s been true to his vows, now he’s found a woman who is challenging them. Now I shall share those passages, on the requirement of celibacy for priests and the nature of vows taken in our 20s, whether they be celibacy or marriage.

“But he’s a priest!” Jimmy protested, as though that settled something. “He’s taken vows!”

“Oh, God, Jimmy! Why are we so damned hard on priests when they find someone to love? What exactly is the crime here?” she demanded. “What is so terrible about loving a woman! Or even just needing to get laid once in a while, for crying out loud.[…]We all make vows, Jimmy. And there is something very beautiful and touching and noble about wanting good impulses to be permanent and true forever,” she said. “Most of us stand up and vow to love, honor and cherish someone. And we really truly mean it, at the time. But two or twelve or twenty years down the road, the lawyers are negotiating the property settlement.”

“You and George didn’t go back on your promises.”

She laughed. “Lemme tell ya something, sweetface. I have been married at least four times, to four different men.” She watched him chew that over for a moment before continuing, “They’ve all been named George Edwards but, believe me, the man who is waiting for me down the hall is a whole different animal from the boy I married back before there was dirt. Oh, there are continuities[…]People change. Cultures change. Empires rise and fall. Shit. Geology changes! Every ten years or so, George and I have faced the fact that we have changed and we’ve had to decide if it makes sense to create a new marriage between these two new people.”  She flopped back against her chair. “Which is why vows are such a tricky business. Because nothing stays the same forever.[…]What unnatural words. Always and forever! Those aren’t human words, Jim. Not even stones are always and forever.[…]I honestly don’t know if the world would be better or worse if we all held ourselves to the vows of our youth.”

I really like this for a couple reasons. 1) The question of why do we give priests such a hard time for breaking their vows, when non-celibates do so much more regularly and with much less fuss? Aren’t they allowed to change, too? 2) People change. Vowing something forever is hard. I don’t even know that it’s possible. It certainly isn’t reasonable. I think we all want the comfort of thinking things will be there forever..but it’s just not realistic to think we can know. Making a promise to try? Yes. But otherwise is just setting up for failure. In my opinion. I certainly have no desire to leave my husband. But if at some point he evolved into Glen Beck..well…that’s not the man I married…and I don’t think I could live with that man. Though who knows? I’ll change, too. (Please, not into that)

I read a lot of fantasy/sci fi, so the cultures are different. In some of the made-up cultures, marriages are not “forever,” they are for 1 or 5 or 10 years, which makes more sense to me. You have something to depend on which you can actually depend on, and then you both re-evaluate. Or in other “cultures,” marriages are more open. Your spouse doesn’t have to be your “soul-mate” forever, and you can be close with other people. Again, in some ways, it makes sense.  Not saying I’d want either of these set-ups. Just saying it’s interesting to consider. Something we normally wouldn’t even think of.

Another:

But even Jimmy could see that Emilio and Sofia would be good for each other and that their children would be beautiful and bright and beloved. And, following in the footsteps of centuries of compassionate Catholics before him, Jimmy  now wondered why guys like Emilio had to make a choice between loving God and loving a woman like Sofia Mendes.

He asked himself how he’d feel if he found out someday that Emilio had kept his vow, always and forever. To his surprise, he leaned toward sad.

Again, interesting. Celibacy did not make sense to me when I was a devout Catholic.  I could defend the idea and I didn’t think it was wrong, but it was just kind of a “Why? No, really, why?” type of feeling. I think it’s sad. Especially given, from the first quote, how hard it is to leave.

What do you guys think? Can we make promises in our 20s that we can uphold for our entire lives? Should we? Is the celibacy of priests a good thing or bad? (Note: celibacy is not a central Catholic teaching, and at times in the past it has been revoked. Thus it is more open to change than most practices, and really not a key thing) Chime in, share your thoughts, I love to hear opposition. As long as it’s respectful, I’ll let it post (sarcasm is OK. I <3 sarcasm. Personal attacks/pointless insults, not so much. I’m sorry if you disagree with my judgment of “respectful.” My blog, I have all the power *evil grin*)

Moving on.

I promised talk of $$. And I’m very excited. My hubby got a raise! And a good raise! Where he works the average raise across the engineers was guaranteed to be 5% (or put another way, the average amount of $$ available for raises was 5% of the salaries of all the engineers). My hubby? A bit over 6%. Go hubby! I have still never received a raise at my company, but I only expect to be here for 6 more months at the outside. I’m OK with him getting all the bumps :-)

And speaking of that, I was just reminded how much I do. Not. Care. Hour plus long meeting with my boss and my three-lettered-friend, they were asking me questions I didn’t know the answer to, and..*shrug* Whatever, I’ll figure it out or give you my guess. For me, who obsesses about what others think of me (and thus if I’m coming across as doing a good job) that’s a big deal. Change is on the horizon…can’t wait…

One final topic about $$: the census. What is the freaking big deal? I know all these people complaining about “government intrusion” because they are asking what ages of people live in their house. Or how it’s a giant waste of money (“1 billion dollars!!!”). The census is 10 questions. It asks how many people live in the house and some information on who they are. This is then used for things like, oh, schools. Where to build schools, how to draw districts, trying to keep class-size reasonable. To do that, they need to know how many kids are where. This wasn’t an issue when the constitution was drawn up. Or how about parks or roads or any other public service? Not to mention statistics. I hear people all the time quote stats on cities, the average age, racial distribution. Maybe that’s not needed, but everyone (including conservatives) sure love to use them. As for the money, they use the data from the $1 billion the census costs to decide how to most efficiently spend over $400 billion. That means less than 1/4 of one percent of their budget is given over to trying to plan how to most efficiently use the money. See, that’s smart. That’s nothing. If you guess blind, there is more than 1/4 of one percent of waste, I can guarantee it. And that’s not even the only thing done with the census (distribution of House seats, anyone?). *sigh* I wish people would just stop screaming government takeover at every.single.thing.

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