Upon Being Open Minded

WARNING: This is a shallow, closed-minded post from a shallow, closed-minded individual.

Among my generation, the greatest attribute one can have is being open minded. This means accepting a variety of opinions without getting angry or stating that those opinions are wrong, despite the fact that they may contradict one’s own personal beliefs.

I’m a huge fan of this quote: “Be open minded, but not so open minded that your brain falls out.” If one is too open minded, she gets confused. Everything becomes true. By that same logic, nothing is true. Truths that a person learned as a child become contradicted by the time she goes to college and learns to become “open minded” like her peers. Without childhood truths to fall back on, because those are often derided as “close minded,” she may not know what to believe.

I do admit that one’s learned childhood truths are not always correct, and one may come to believe something different as one comes out of childhood. That’s fine and natural. Otherwise, we’d all still believe in the Tooth Fairy. What bothers me is when one does not stand up for what one believes for fear of being “closed minded” or “wrong.” So she attempts to believe whatever she hears.

For example, a fundamental truth of Catholicism is that abortion is wrong. Our hypothetical person considers herself to be Catholic. By accepting and believing and professing the tenets of one religion, one naturally must reject many others. They cannot all be true at once. Also, one cannot be Catholic without accepting all the teachings of the Church. It is not easy to accept that abortion is wrong, especially when one has been put in a position where many would consider abortion a good, sensible option. (I admit, it is very easy to understand why someone would choose abortion, especially considering how awful pregnancy, outside pressures, and stressful financial situations can be. However, that never makes it the right choice.)

Our hypothetical person is talking to a friend and discussing abortion. The friend is pro-choice, so in order to prove herself open minded, the hypothetical person’s new wishy-washy opinion is manifested, and she says something to the effect of “I can understand why you believe that. I personally would never have an abortion myself, but I am fine with it if someone else made that choice.”

Similarly, the friend might also say, “You’re Catholic, and I believe that all organized religion is a bunch of horseshit, but if you want to believe it, that’s cool.”

I don’t know if any legitimate arguments can be had when nobody stands up for their beliefs or has any beliefs to stand up for, which brings me to another quote that I believe describes my generation: “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

Be consistent, people. Being “closed minded” is honestly not that bad. Being strong in your beliefs and being a person of integrity is a virtue, not blindly accepting everyone else’s opinion on everything else because you want to get along or because you do not understand your own faith. If you believe you know the truth of something, say so.

Church Experiences in the Corona Days

Going to Mass since the pandemic broke out and restrictions were put in place has been a strange experience, to say the least. My home parish is one of the more “paranoid.” Every other pew has been blocked off. We enter through only one door and leave through another door. Two hand sanitizer stations are prominent in the gathering area. The bathrooms are now “for emergencies only” (a horrid diaper explosion counts, right?). We must have our temperature taken at the front entrance. Everyone must wear a mask. If you don’t wear a mask, you must either sit outside and listen to the Mass via speakers or leave and watch the Mass on the Facebook livestream. We can no longer sing in church because of the danger of droplets flying everywhere, propelled by the force of our Christian fervor. There is no shaking hands or hugging during the sign of peace. We can’t get up for Communion. The priest brings Him to you. You may not receive on the tongue, only on the hand.

The other Catholic church we have visited does not have nearly as many restrictions. They do the “every other pew” thing, but almost no one wears a mask, and they all sing. There are also tons of people congregating outside (probably not six feet apart) because the church itself doesn’t hold many and now holds even fewer due to the aforementioned “every other pew” thing.

Weirdly, I am finding my church’s Mass more reverent than I had before because of one reason: increased silence. Without everyone processing to the priest in the Communion line, I am not distracted by noticing everyone’s outfit and thinking stuff like, “Ooh, I had no idea she was pregnant!” and “Man, that guy’s beard is super long.” There is no singing, except by the cantor, so I can focus better on the lyrics of the songs and notice things I had not noticed before.

So in all this craziness, there is a silver lining. Or maybe I made it for myself by taking advantage of the extra “quiet” time.

Corona Days, Part 2

Oddly, restrictions in my state are still being lifted, despite a rising number of deaths from COVID-19. I suspect that even if the restrictions were not being lifted, or if different ones were being put into place, people would not stand for it. They are getting bored. Upon hearing about the George Floyd shooting and subsequent madness that broke out all over the United States, I first thought that people are so thoroughly frustrated, angry, and bored. People do not like being told what to do for so long. Authority is difficult to follow when it is so hard to tell truth from lies.

The news is getting even more painful to read than it normally is; I hate seeing the COVID-19 death toll blazing across the top of the screen every day. Now I hate seeing all the pictures from the protests (violent and nonviolent) everywhere. To top it all off, my local news station ran a story this past weekend about how more than 10,000 cats and dogs will be euthanized throughout the state’s animal shelters if no one adopts them. Ah, the guilt.

Sadly, the library is not yet open (at least in my county). However, materials can now be requested online, which I don’t enjoy doing as much as browsing through the shelves and picking up books at random. My son also enjoyed looking at (i.e., trying to chew on) the board books in the toddler section, but now I’m stuck reading Little Blue Truck over and over. (I know it by heart!) On the bright side, I have plenty of reading material at home (current read: a biography of the Kennedy men; a look into the past is always nice when the present and future are scary).

In our diocese, the Sunday obligation is still suspended. Some parishes have many more restrictions than others, which brings confusion into an already stressful situation. The lifeblood of Catholics is the Eucharist. We need this spiritual food for survival, especially when the battle we will have to fight in the coming days is largely a spiritual one. Even so, there is a need to protect the vulnerable. Mass is being celebrated online, outside, or even inside, but people are allowed in only every other pew, with a host (no pun intended) of other restrictions. I suppose we are all doing the best we can to balance the need for spiritual sustenance with physical safety. I just wish Mass would be back to normal. I would take Mass over the library. 🙂

So in the midst of all this madness, I hope you are staying safe and sane. Take breaks from the media. If you can, adopt a dog or cat. Write something by hand instead of typing it (I’ve been doing this almost nightly, and it’s refreshing). Show someone you love them (from a safe distance!). Escape into a good novel. Pray, pray, pray.