written about Africa, my life there, the people I know there and my reactions to
it all for so many years, I found it hard to write about my time in DC when I
was helping with the training of new lay missionaries, or about my time here in
Rome, as the English secretary to the Top Dogs.
It seems so . . . uh . . . mundane or something. So . . . I just haven’t written much in the past
couple of years.
Yet, I’ve heard
that’s how life often feels – afterwards - for people who have lived an intense
cross-cultural experience. That period
of time is often an influential, powerful, growing and developmental time for
us. We’re in a totally different
environment from what we know, having left behind what we’re familiar with, our
support systems (at times without even realizing we had support systems . . . until
they are no longer there . . . ) and find ourselves totally outside of what has
always just been there, what we’ve taken for granted and never reflected upon. We’re confronted with our values – with
ourselves – and with needing to actually think about these things and to come
to recognize and hopefully accept what is really, honestly important to us.
Then, to return to
our countries and move into other areas of life can end up feeling all, uh,
ho-hummish. I’ve heard, and experienced,
that life can often feel less fulfilling, and maybe that’s also part of why I
haven’t been sure what to write about.
Just day-to-day things while I was in Africa could play on my emotions,
inspire me and stay on my mind. Life was so different from what I’d known
that it was often just naturally thought-provoking, and writing in the blog was
a way to work out my thoughts. (It was
also a way to share parts of my life so that, hopefully, I wouldn’t be a
complete stranger to friends and family whenever I would next see them.) I’m working on finding that inspiration
again, and it’s there, of course, waiting for me to acknowledge it. There is so much around me wherever I am,
whether in DC, in Rome, in Wisconsin, Chicago, Nebraska, Warmond, Ghana or Minneapolis -
wherever – there’s always atmosphere, people I love, food, wine, beer,
etc. I just need to let it in . . . and let it touch
In the meantime, a
few things come up that affect me more than other things. Often, these things are still connected to
Africa. After all, so many of my friends are there, so much of my adult life
was there, so much of my growing up took place there and most of my work is
still related to African issues. For
example, talking to my friends in Liberia about how ebola is affecting
everyone’s lives has moved me; I felt it inside, in my heart, and wanted to
write about it. (So there you go . . . my
previous blog entry.)
And now, there’s another
ebola-related issue which someone in SMA told me he had read about, so I
looked up the article(s). Phew – it
really pisses me off!!! The organization
I have been involved with for so many years sends support to this person who is
fomenting bigotry and hatred through his promulgation of ignorance. Here are links to
a couple of the articles, but there are more stories that can be found related
to this. The first link is more about
what was said and so on, the second is how these statements by an influential
leader in Liberia has affected a group of people that he has slandered:
said by the same SMA priest who told me about this:
His thinking is
inflammatory and could lead to persecution and death of others
if the people think they have caused ebola. This is more than culture
and besides if it is it should be challenged. His theology and culture should
be transcended. What kind of God does he have? I wonder if people
like this still think the earth is flat and that the sun revolves around the
earth? It won't be challenged because we are too patronizing....
The US province of SMA has a priest who once said that he didn’t believe that
we ever landed on the moon – it was all something put together in
Hollywood. Was he joking? Was he
serious? I honestly don’t know because I
wasn’t there. I wonder why the person who heard him say this ignorance did not challenge him in some way. And right now, with the Archbishop making these kinds of totally ignorant and inflammatory comments, why aren't we challenging him?
I have already
felt like a hypocrite at times. I
struggle with some of the Catholic Church’s stances on certain issues, and yet
here I am, going on 16 or 17 years with a Catholic organization which supports
a man that spouts this kind of stuff.
He’s supposed to be a leader, a unifier.
He’s supposedly educated. In my
mind he’s supposed to be spreading a message of love and non-judgment, of
caring for those who are among the most abandoned – isn’t that a message in the
Bible? – isn’t that what Jesus did in the Bible? Who did Jesus hang with, after all? (And what are some of the statements coming out of the recent Vatican Synod on the family??!! -- the entire document is an interesting read, actually, and point 110 specifically contradicts what has been said by religious leaders in Liberia.) One of SMA’s priorities, no . . . THE priority
(supposedly) is to the most abandoned of Africa and African descent. Yet, we are supporting this guy. To be honest, at this time in history in
Africa, homosexuals are clearly among "the most abandoned".
I used to think, “well,
a lot of people don’t agree with everything from their ‘employers’ ” – and, as
I said, I have gone on with the same organization for so many years now, so clearly I decided to just see this not agreeing with everything as acceptable and "normal". But, I go on feeling a little more like a
hypocrite each time, and it becomes harder and harder each time.