We at WIT get a lot of trolls.
There’s just something about a group of young women talking about God that really seems to get people all riled up.
Come, stroll with me down Troll Lane. There was the person who said, “You give good reason s why women need to be silent.” I can recall the lovely gentleman who told us, “you should not be called Wit you should be called witch women in theology creating Heresy.” There was the man who proclaimed us “under mortal sin, clearly” and the woman who called us “fringe wackos.” I could go on but I think you get the picture.
I must admit that being subjected to hateful, vitriolic, and occasionally un-hinged comments can get to me. I have felt tempted to slur back–anything to make my interlocutor feel what she has made me feel. And anyone who glances through the comments I have left on this blog will have no problem finding evidence of times I have lost my cool. I know I have said things I wish I hadn’t.
But these unpleasant visitations do not always end so poorly. Sometimes, as I learned tonight, they can inspire in us a fresh appreciation for forgotten beauty or push us in the direction of unexpected theological insights. Grace does not always look like we think it should. Today, a woman I can know only by the name of Mary left me the following response to an old essay of mine entitled “Jesus Was Not A Bully; The Ambo Is Not A Bully Pulpit.”
wow. I attend this parish as well but was not at that Mass. I know the family this happened to and I have to tell you….they are very clueless about how to behave at Mass. They are a sweet, loving family, but they have always created a day-care center in their pew. Large, loud toys that land repeatedly with a loud crash when dropped, multiple snack and drink options for the babies. I have always been completely dumbfounded at their complete ignorance of how to behave respectfully at Mass. If they were the least bit interested in teaching their children even the most basic principles of our faith, they would begin with a sense of reverence and awe for the Eucharist – Jesus Christ truly present, miraculously at every Mass. There is NEVER any reason to bring food to church for children. They play for hours without eating. One hour at Mass is not going to kill them. I can’t even imagine for one second why anyone would bring TOYS to Mass! What the heck? It’s families like these that push our good and holy priests to going insane. Stop acting like a bunch of idiots and do the right thing: teach your friend/ fellow parishioner how to properly behave at Mass. By the way, the originator of this post comes to Mass dressed like she’s going to a bar. That makes me sick. It makes sense that she doesn’t have the first clue how to behave at Mass when she can’t even dress respectfully. If any of you want to be a Christian, start with showing us that you have a deep respect for the house of God. Was it not Jesus who produced a whip to teach this lesson in the gospels?
At first, I felt nothing but anger. Then I felt hurt. Then I felt angry again. But now I feel only gratitude. The process of responding to Mary changed me. To her, I said:
Well, considering that the social and public consumption of alcohol set to music comprises the climax of the mass, I guess dressing like I’m headed to a bar is appropriate. And since the consumption of fleshly food also comprises the other part of the mass’s eucharistic climax, I can think of nothing more appropriate for children to do during the mass than to eat. It’s not their fault they are excluded from participating in the communal feast. If anything, munching on cheerios provides an expert apprenticeship in how to participate in the Eucharist. Eucharist means “giving thanks;” we Catholics give thanks to God by eating. I honestly feel bad for you that you lack the theological imagination to perceive their activities as a song of praise to God.
I meant only to be witty; I stumbled upon something beautiful. What wonderful images of the mass: should we not come to the Eucharist as we come to a bar, seeking boisterous, embodied, social congress? Should we not also consume the Eucharist like young children chomping on Cheerios? The snacking of children reminds us that the Eucharist is true food. As such, it is mysterious precisely by being so mundane; it is holy precisely because it is so bodily, so saintly because anyone can do it.
We give thanks to God by eating, an activity that is not just thoroughly human but ordinarily animal. We become one with Jesus by doing something that even dogs and apes and squirrels do, eating. We become Christ-like by exercising not those faculties that distinguish us from other animals but those that we share in common with them.
Even her quip about getting sick makes sense when we are talking about a feast. Eating incorrectly and against the grain of our nature can easily cause us to vomit. In this same way, perhaps vomiting provides a perfect metaphor for what it feels like when our body finds the body of Christ intolerable.
May I learn to speak more civilly, even on the Internet.
But I am not so sure that we need good manners to sit at the Eucharistic table.