Saturday, June 1, 2013

The greatest pitfall of ministry

Is not sex, or money or even power.  Yes, those make the headlines.  But the real pitfall is confusing your own biases, prejudices, or just plain opinions with the Gospel.  It's a constant problem in Protestant life, where individual inspiration and interpretation of the Bible are assumed.  Why can't it be that the Holy Spirit just happened to tell me we should root for Michigan this year, huh?

But oddly enough, I've learned it's no different in Catholic circles.  Again, especially across the Catholic blogosphere.  See my posts about the amateur nature of so many Catholic bloggers/apologists.  Hey, it's not an easy pitfall to avoid when you've had training and education and professional experience.  Without those things, it can almost become the norm.

So over at Simcha Fisher's, she's laid out exactly what she will and won't tolerate when it comes to fashion.  What she will wear, what she won't wear.  What clothes she finds appealing, what clothes she finds unacceptable.  No problem at all.  And she's right about many things.

But here's the thing.  What she, and some weeks ago Marc Barnes, is railing at is this old notion that women should be pretty and dainty and pure and whatever.  That idea of girls were girls and men were men.  Girls in their pretty lace and dainties, rugged men in their shirts and hauberks.  Yes, I'm aware that, with some scrutiny, we can find problems with those ideals.  With concentrated scholarly appraisals, we can unpack bad, un-Christian, even dark ideals behind all those.

But guess what.  We can do the same with any idea, practice, fad or whatever. In the end, those were simply ideals formed by people of a particular culture in a particular point in history.  They were simply formulated opinions that people thought worked.  Just like ideals and preferences held by Marc Barnes, or Simcha Fisher, or me, or anyone.  Have your opinions all you want.  Yes, based on that all-important Catechism, which seems more important at some times than others, modesty is probably the best way to err.  But for heaven's sake, don't try to make your own generationally and culturally and socially and personally informed opinions and preferences about fashion choices to be a clash betwixt heaven and hell.  Don't make it about the powers of God (your opinions) vs. the powers of Satan (people whose preferences differ).  It's a very, very, very and let me repeat - very - dangerous temptation in any ministry.  Which is why applying the label 'evil' to things, or hinting at things like misogyny, bigotry, prejudice, or heresy ought to be done rarely.  And almost never when discussing slacks as opposed to skirts.

I should mention that in the piece, Ms. Fisher is more restrained than are many who come by to comment.  Alas.

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