Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Easter Week Odds and Ends

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Folks, I’ve been engrossed in several major projects this week, which is why I haven’t had much time for blogging.  That said, it’s Easter Week and there are several topics I’d like to discuss — so let’s get to it.

First, there have been a number of stories recently about good deeds that have gone viral.  (This particular phrase is vexing in and of itself, mind you.  “Gone viral” used to discuss epidemics, not Internet usage.  But I digress.)  The latest one is about a family who had their meal “comped” at Olive Garden in Vernon Hills, IL . . . and of all things, people are actually posting comments saying this particular complimentary meal was a stunt by the public relations firm that represents the Olive Garden chain.

Look.  I really don’t understand the motivation behind people posting every single thing that happens to them online, as if it’s not real unless it’s discussed on the Internet.  But I’ve seen story after story lately about good deeds (such as the forty dollars left by an anonymous person on a windshield because a woman had a “half my heart is in Afghanistan” bumper sticker on her car), all of which have been picked up after some individual posts a story online — usually at Reddit or Twitter or Instagram, or any of the services that allow you to post a picture and a short caption of what’s going on.

I adore stories about good deeds.  Yet there’s something about how people are posting these stories themselves that bugs me.

I’m glad that people are reaching out to help others in a time of need.  (The first story about the Olive Garden is a case in point.)  But I’m very concerned about this trend of posting every single thing you see or hear or want to discuss online, because it’s a way of eroding your personal head space.

Or to put it more bluntly, people seem to be giving their privacy away much more easily than ever before.  And that is an extremely worrisome trend.

Second, there was a sad story today that I wish I didn’t have to write about.  A retired couple from Indiana had moved to Washington to be close to their son, his wife and their newborn grandson, and had spent the first ten days of the child’s life with him.  But today, a drunk driver who had already surrendered his driver’s license hit the couple as they were crossing a street with their grandson and daughter-in-law, killing the retired couple instantly.

The only good thing is that so far, the mother and child have survived.  But they are both in critical condition, and the outcome is far from certain.  I hope to post an update (with luck, a positive one) in a few days’ time.

This particular drunk driver had five previous DUIs, this according to the UK newspaper The Daily Mail.   Somehow, he managed to slam into not one person, but four — and his weak excuse amounted to, “The sun was in my eyes, and I didn’t see them,” according to newspaper reports (such as this one from the Washington Post).

Mind you, this is a paraphrase of what the various newspaper and TV reports I’ve read (and heard) have said.  But from all reports, after hitting four people including a newborn baby, this is all the drunk driver in question (I refuse to name him) had to say for himself.

He’s obviously learned nothing.

And last but not least, it is Easter Week.  I’ve written about Good Friday before (last year, in fact), and about Easter itself (two years ago) . . . basically, Easter Week is all about transfiguration, repentance and redemption.  And as such, it can be a very stressful time to deal with if you have any empathy at all, or any sense of what, historically, Christianity has meant to this world (for good and ill).

Religious historian Mircea Eliade wrote extensively on Christianity, and because I’ve read most of Eliade’s work, I realize that in many respects, Christianity was a major step forward.

Mind you, there were good Pagan cults that were suppressed, subsumed and/or stamped out.  That was not good by any stretch of the imagination.

But there also were bad Pagan cults and bad pre-Christian religions of all sorts that were also suppressed, subsumed and/or stamped out, too.

On balance, Christianity when it was adopted was a major step forward.  There were women who advocated for the church in early times — perhaps more of them than we’re currently aware of, because the chroniclers of that time were largely male.

It was only later, when the Church fathers (always fathers) got their hooks into Christianity that abuses were suffered.  And while there have always been good and kindly priests of all sorts in the Catholic Church and other Christian sects (as there have been in other churches worldwide throughout our history), the Christian faith as a faith must be vigilant against anyone or any thing that perverts its overall message.

Which, believe it or not, boils down to one and only one thing: love one another.  (Jesus said so, too.  It’s in the Bible.  Go look it up.)

Or, if you want two things, try the Golden Rule.  (Which Wiccans know as, “An ye harm none, do as thou wilt.”  Same thing.)

Everything else is window dressing.  And everything else, as such, should be viewed that way — with extreme caution.

Jesus is celebrated because he loved everyone.  The widows.  The orphans. The lepers.  Those who didn’t have enough to eat.  The homeless.  The scared.  The dying.  The condemned.

Jesus loved them all.

Yet the modern church, for the most part, has gone away from this.  (There are individual exceptions, such as Mother Teresa, Father Damien the Leper Priest, and so forth.)  They need to realize that any faith, if it’s any good at all, needs to care about everyone.

Not just those it understands.

Everyone.

Meaning the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community.  Meaning women who want to be priests rather than nuns (great as nuns are, it’s not the same job, yet it’s the best any female can do in the Catholic Church).  Meaning kids who get so many piercings, you can barely see their skin.

Or convicts.  Prostitutes.  Villains of all sorts and descriptions . . . because redemption is possible even in the worst of all circumstances.

That’s what Jesus said, and that’s the life Jesus lived.  It was a heroic life in many respects, which is why Christianity is a very tough religion (I’m not the only one who’s said so, either; so did G.K. Chesterton).

We tend to view Jesus as an example rather than a man like any other man — or, perhaps better stated, a man with a spark of divinity in him that could not be denied even by his detractors.

Maybe we’d do a little better in this life if we viewed what he did as a man in comforting widows and orphans, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, etc., etc., and tried to do the same in whatever small ways we possibly can.

That way, we would show how much we truly care for others.  And we’d be following both the Golden Rule and Jesus’s “Eleventh Commandment” (that of loving one another as Jesus loved us) — which is something worthwhile to do whether you’re a Christian, a NeoPagan, a Muslim, an atheist, or a Martian.

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Written by Barb Caffrey

March 27, 2013 at 5:56 pm

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