December 3, 2021
I found myself in two prickly Facebook discussions yesterday, one with someone I truly care about, whom I have actually known since about 1988, and the other with someone who comes up on my news feed because we are “Facebook Friends,” with a significant number of mutual friends, and although I can identify the circles in which we move together, I do not recall that I have ever met her, or who friended whom.
The first was about my objection to the very broad brush my friend uses to attack radical fundamentalist conservatives such as Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett. She labels them “Christians,” as if they are representative examples of the typical follower of Jesus. My friend was angry about what so many of us heard during the audio coverage of the court’s oral arguments on the draconian law in Mississippi that poses a serious challenge to Roe v. Wade, as were many others, including me. Because my friend is an attorney, she speaks with authority and compelling writing on such matters. She chided me for not concentrating on the real point of her post, and then a mutual friend chimed in to tell me that it is all Christians who are responsible: “Clean your OWN house before telling others to watch their mouth. Your religion did this. . .,” he wrote. I felt sad and helpless to try to restore the friendship with the attorney friend, which seems to be wobbling.
The second brouhaha came about over Kaitlin Hardy Shetler’s brilliant, searing, controversial poem, “Sometimes I Wonder.” The so-called friend I can’t quite place started a discussion that included sarcastic and ugly characterizations of the real humans who might be represented in the New Testament scriptural characters of Mary and Joseph. They belittled the familiar tropes that have become the mythology of the Infancy Narratives, mangling the theology and the dogmas that they build on. I don’t know now why I stepped in, but my efforts to object to descriptions of Joseph as “raping young Mary and calling it something else—immaculate—to get his horny, cruel ass off the hook” triggered remarks directly to me thatwere condescending and insulting. The “friend” did apologize for one especially cruel description of me, and cut that portion.
Sometimes I wonder why I follow my brain into fruitless debates like this. But I did find a new poet. You can learn about Kaitlin Hardy Shetler here. And while you’re still in my space, take a look at this startling photo someone used to illustrate the poem under discussion. (Yes, I know that the real principals in the story weren’t white. Nevertheless. . . )