Monday, October 6, 2008

Time to Start Posting

Where to begin... is that the reason people have trouble beginning blogs? I've had an account here for weeks, maybe months, but it sits empty. Which is not to say I haven't been communicating virtually. I've been listserving. I've been writing essays and sending them off to the good folks of Commonweal and America. I've been sending poems off to magazines.

Two weeks ago I wrote an email to the Sisters of the Order of Saint Benedict, for whom I work, and told them why they need to write some editorials to show how relevant their message is in these trying times. For which I was hugged and had many more e-mails in reply thanking me for reminding them of their mission and for "getting us," and one Sister even came to my office and read back to me what I'd written aloud.

Then on Friday Commonweal Magazine, a Catholic magazine of politics and culture, actually accepted something I'd written. Something I'd submitted a long time ago. Back when the story of the day was Barack Obama and his pastor Jeremiah Wright. Remember that? People wanted him to disavow and disown his pastor. He wouldn't do it. And I thought that was right-- that was very, uh, Catholic of him. To recognize that the church is imperfect and that pastors are imperfect and that doesn't mean we just go off and leave the church we're in, or the denomination, or whatever. But also I thought, how American tha we would expect him to disown is pastor and move on to another church. How like, uh, the evangelical church in America. I had some really good thoughts on the matter, so I wrote them down and sent them off to Commonweal.

A lot of time has past since then, and in fact Jeremiah Wright got a little more out of control, started mucking around like the fact that Obama didn't disown him gave him the right to bring his politics onto the national stage. The media, through the controversy, gave Jeremiah Wright a political platform. Things got all distracty. Obama did in the end make a statement about the pastor. He in effect distanced himself. Disavowed. Disowned.

At that moment, or even before, I figured my little article was dead. And in effect it was, in that what I wanted to say was no longer relevant in the context that I'd said it. But the article sat on the desk of a very high up editor at Commonweal. This week, out of the blue, I got an acceptance letter in my e-mail inbox.

Was I still interested in publishing it?


Then a few hours later I got the "edited" version ready for publication. It was clear what they'd seen in it. Why they'd held onto it. They'd stripped out the stuff about Obama and Wright. OK. The occasion was gone. But then they also stripped out some other things I'd said, the real conclusions I'd drawn about what it meant to be Catholic and not disown one's imperfect church or imperfect ministers. What was left was a rather sketchy account of my experience-- as a sex-abuse victim (though not of priest abuse) working and worshiping in a community that included priests credibly accused of sexual abuse (and on "restriction" because of it).

It had been an article thoughtful enough-- and important enough-- to publish despite the fact that it would have caused problems for me because it identified people in the Benedictine monastery where I worked and worshiped at the time (and basically live) in ways they do not want to be publicly discussed. Now it struck me as sort of a gratuitous mention of these brothers, this community, in a very public forum. Without provocation it might be said... And basically, cut down to where I didn't feel my meaning was coming across.

So I wrote back and sadly, literally crying, told them no, they couldn't publish it. Not like that.

And I thought-- oh, I should have just put this on a blog a long time ago!!!

And then today, I was on "the listserv," about which much more later, and engaging in a discussion of Sarah Palin and her "aw shucks" droppin' of the final gs on her words and I expressed EXACTLY what bugs me about that. And man, that needs to go on my blog! So after this intro post, I'll let you know what I think about that!

No comments: