Thursday Three #63

This really is a Thursday Three post, I promise, but I have sort of a rant before I start the list of three.

Pope Benedict XVI passed away at the end of 2022. If you listen to the progressive media, they’re all, “Oh, great, that Nazi pope died,” but if you listen to the conservative media, they’re all, “ZOMG, it’s the end of Catholicism as we know it!”

I’m a bad Catholic. I don’t follow every word the pope says. (This might make me some sort of heretic.) I don’t know very much about him. It’s hard for me to get into reading Pope Benedict’s theology because it’s just too complicated for my tiny brain. I don’t care too much for Pope Francis because so much of what he says has been misinterpreted, and I sometimes can’t help but think that he deliberately makes his statements ambiguous to placate a variety of people, at the expense of the Church.

People have left Catholicism because of popes’ bad decisions or, in the case of Pope John Paul II, how they handled (or mishandled) the child sex abuse crisis. I think these people forget that the pope is an old man who holds arguably the highest office in the world. He leads the universal church, for crying out loud. He’s a human being and nowhere near perfect. Not every word he speaks or writes is ex cathedra. We can’t idolize him. He’s not God. He’s a frail human representative of Jesus and fails spectacularly in that role because… we all fail spectacularly at being like Jesus.

Same with priests. They’re human, just like you and me. They make mistakes, sometimes tragic ones. They have failings. They commit sins, sometimes terrible ones. That’s why I can’t understand why people leave the Church and resign their faith over something a priest said or did. He’s a human being.

Actually, it’s the same with Catholic YouTube personalities or media figures or authors or anyone else. They’re all just regular people who have something to say. They may be right, they may be wrong. That’s why they can’t be followed too closely. They don’t have any real authority. Sometimes they do have helpful advice and can be a source of hope. But often, they’re a source of division and sow conflict in the name of getting more publicity. False prophets and all that…

So in all this mess, there are really only three things we can rely on:

  1. Jesus and his teachings (AKA the Bible).
  2. The seven sacraments and their infusion of grace.
  3. The saints and their example.

Favorite Books of 2022

In 2022, I managed to read more books than I did in 2021. Most of the books from the latter half of the year were read in the wee hours of the morning when I was feeding my newborn daughter and/or trying fruitlessly to get her to sleep. Therefore, I don’t remember many of the details of those books. But I do remember enough to make a list of 10 favorites (in no particular order)! First, two notes:

1. I read these books in 2022. Not all of them were published in 2022.

2. This post is also a public service announcement and reminder that your local library is your friend. You can save tons of money and space in your house. All of these books were checked out from the library. Thank you, library, for fueling my reading habit and saving my budget.

Humans of New York: Stories by Brandon Stanton. I mainly got this one for my son because it has tons of pictures of all the strange people walking the streets of New York City. He spent hours looking at it and still asks about it, even though we read it back in January. The book is pretty light on text, but the anecdotes and quotes were fascinating and sometimes sad or hilarious.

Sandy Hook by Elizabeth Williamson. This book was more about Alex Jones and the conspiracy theories surrounding the Sandy Hook massacre than the massacre itself, the perpetrator, or the victims. Some of these people put so much faith in conspiracy theories that they attacked and harassed the families of the victims, which is unconscionable.

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld. I’m not a fan of Hillary, but I love this author’s writing, which was why I checked out the book. This is a fictionalized version of her life in which she did not marry Bill, and it’s so full of realistic detail that it seems like a true biography. I wonder if Hillary read this book and if so, what she thought about the author’s depiction of her and her life.

Everything Below the Waist by Jennifer Block. This nonfiction book was about all the ways that many doctors and hospitals lie to women and perpetuate outdated and harmful medical practices and often push unnecessary procedures that cause more harm than good. I appreciated the focus on fertility awareness methods of family planning as an alternative to hormonal birth control.

The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson. One of those rare books that was so strongly emotional it made me cry. This one explored alternate realities: A woman lives another life in her dreams, and this version gradually becomes more and more real than her waking life.

The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas. Set in Australia, this novel used some cultural references I didn’t understand, which was fine because the issues it discusses are universal. A man slaps another man’s child at a barbeque, and many questions follow. Was it because the kid is a spoiled brat? Was it because the man lost his patience and doesn’t understand children? Reading about the implications of one occurrence on an array of friends and family members was enlightening.

Alice Isn’t Dead by Joseph Fink. I’ve been trying to read more horror that’s not written by Stephen King. Most horror novels I read aren’t particularly scary, but this one was. Maybe that’s because I was reading it in the dark at 3 a.m., but it probably would have creeped me out anyway. A woman’s significant other is presumed dead but is actually involved in hunting zombie-like creatures called Thistle Men.

Secondhand by Adam Minter. Ever wondered what happens to all the stuff you leave at Goodwill? This book will tell you. It will also to inspire you to downsize and purchase fewer new things when possible, especially clothing and electronics. The book revealed the good news that there is a lot more environmentally friendly recycling going on than the news media will lead you to believe. However, we still live in an extremely materialistic society.

Moth by Melody Razak. This was a fictional portrayal of the partition that happened in India in 1947 and the conflicts between Hindus and Muslims. The writing style and characters were superb, and the book gave me a window into cultures and countries I don’t often think about. I’m interested to read more about this period of history now.

Fairy Tale by Stephen King. I was bracing myself for this novel to be a disappointment because I haven’t liked Stephen King’s newer stuff as much as the older and because the man somehow manages to inject his political views into every book he writes. He still did that in this book, but it was easy to overlook because Fairy Tale was great. It made me want to dig up some of the old Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales for my kids.

Thursday Three #62

Haven’t done one of these in a long time! These are random things I’ve been thinking about.

  1. When one lives in a small house, one constantly has to assess space and items within that space. Thus, this leads to the need for a post-Christmas toy, clothes, and unnecessary item purge. I have found that getting rid of items is oddly freeing. An uncluttered space equals an uncluttered mind, I suppose.
  2. The “f-word” has been appearing in more and more songs lately, and it seems totally unnecessary. I can understand using it in a pissed-off metal song, but in pop songs about having a good time (Bebe Rexha/David Guetta’s “Blue (I’m Good)”)* or dumping one’s boyfriend (Gayle’s “abcdefu”)? Nah, not needed. The radio edit versions are completely fine and get the point across.
  3. Lowercase “god” is being increasingly used in novels, even when referring to the one God of Christianity. One book I read even had capitalized “Goddess” while lowercasing “god,” which especially annoyed me, but a lot about that book annoyed me. Who knows, maybe it’s the author’s choice, but because it’s so widespread now, I’m wondering if it’s not some group of evil editors in New York City.**

*You know you’re getting old when they start writing songs that sample other songs that were popular in your childhood.

**Probably the same ones who manage to insert an insult of Trump into every single fiction book published in the past couple years. I think by now we all know that the man is insane.