A Potluck Is Better if We Don't ALL Bring Jell-o Salad: Why I Maybe Didn't Write About an Important Topic That's Important to You

A Potluck Is Better if We Don't ALL Bring Jell-o Salad: Why I Maybe Didn't Write About an Important Topic That's Important to You

Every few months, I will get a message or two like one I received today, from someone who says she has followed me for many years but can no longer do so because I haven’t publicly supported a particular issue in the way that she thinks would be appropriate. I’ve mentally composed half a dozen blog posts over the last couple weeks, in response to current (and historical) events, but none have felt right to actually share. So, instead, I figured I’d share what I wrote for her with you guys.

I always encourage people to only follow accounts that they find helpful, and none that disturb their peace. So I support your decision! But I’m sorry to see you go.

Two considerations come to mind in response to your message. First, one of my favorite things about liturgical living in the home is that it's a way to grow in our Catholic faith that can be practiced by people on different ends of the political spectrum, and by people on various places on the guitar-Mass-to-Gregorian-Chant continuum. It can be a resource to people at all points in their faith journey. This apostolate of sharing things I've learned about Catholicism with others is the reason my blog and social media accounts exist. It has been a significant part of many conversions, which is just so SO amazing to me.

Especially in the past few years, as my readership has increased, I have mindfully tried to stay away from divisive issues except where there is a clear connection to the Mass and the sacraments or liturgical living in the home. This is to give people permission to learn about the saints and the history and tradition of the Church without feeling that they have to be in lockstep with my personal beliefs in other areas.

In real life, issues are complex and multifaceted. In real life, there are plenty of social/political issues upon which good Catholics are allowed to disagree. Even when we agree on a problem, we don’t always agree on solutions. Real change for the better comes from individual growth in personal holiness. But social media often prefers coercion tactics and virtue signaling.

So much of the internet is purposefully divisive. A couple years ago during the #metoo movement—which was purportedly against the sexual harassment and assault of women especially in professional environments, but which was conflated with the pro-abortion movement—a prominent pelvic floor exercise program took to social media to make sure their followers knew that anyone who didn’t support a woman’s right to have an abortion could show themselves the virtual door. There’s a huge knitting forum that wouldn’t let you talk about knitting unless you also aligned yourself with their views on various political and social issues. Exercise and hobbies have always been things that could bring us together despite important political and social divides. How sad if that kind of friendship isn’t possible anymore.

Of course I have views on current events and opinions on policies. But it limits the people who would be able to hear the message of my apostolate if I make my platform also about the issue of the moment. Today it’s police brutality and anti-racism, but a few minutes ago it was masks and staying home, and before that it was sexual harassment with a side of Netflix, and before that immigration, and before that was Cecil the lion.* There will never not be an issue dividing the internet. I want to be a place of respite from some of that stuff, even when it’s important stuff. I want you to be able to learn about the saints whether you’re charismatic or sspx or protestant or orthodox or syro-malabar or lds, and about the traditions of the Catholic Church even if you are a pagan pro-abortion segregationist. I believe that this is what God is asking of me in this moment.

And that brings me to the second consideration. I get messages like yours each time there is a new social media movement, insisting that I must use my platform to champion the issue about which you feel very strongly. But here’s the thing. Eight years ago, God put it on my heart to want to know more about the saints and Catholic traditions, and to desire that others would know more about them too. I didn’t reach out to existing Catholic bloggers to say I was disappointed in them for not sharing this message that I thought was important. I reached out to them to ask if they had any advice for starting a blog and social media platform of my own. Because if God put it on my heart, I figured it was my job to do it.

St. Paul told the Corinthians that we are all the Body of Christ, in different parts and with different gifts and responsibilities. (1 Cor 12) In other words: It’s a potluck. It’s better if we don’t ALL bring jell-o salad. Is your thing more important than mine? Probably so! All the more reason for you to get to work on what you’re bringing to the table.

There are plenty of good Catholic takes on current events. My favorites recently have been by my good friend (and fellow Fiat Conference planning committee member) Karianna Frey. You can find her on Instagram @kariannafrey.

*These issues are not all equal in importance. But all have prompted people to write to me to share their disappointment.

p.s. The Catholic Marriage Summit starts tomorrow! The talk Jim and I are contributing is: We Don’t Know How Many Kids We’re Going to Have. Here's the official tease . . .

We are Jim and Kendra Tierney, married for almost nineteen years, and the parents of ten kids aged eight months to eighteen years. Yes . . . TEN KIDS! Don’t worry, it seems crazy to us too. Our journey to openness to life has been a bumpy one with twists and turns and tears and method failures and operator error and ultimately . . . understanding. But very little cavorting in fields of wildflowers (despite what the nfp brochures seemed to indicate on that front).

One of those twists has been a twelve year battle with serious illness. But looking back, our decision as an engaged couple not to use artificial contraception—that one gigantic leap of faith—is the moment we look back on as the single most important in our marriage. It is the decision from which strength and joy and so much grace has flowed into our marriage. It’s extraordinarily countercultural, but we think it’s really what the Catholic understanding of sex and marriage requires that we wrap our heads around somehow: We don’t know how many kids we’re going to have. Come, hang out with us for a few minutes and see if we can convince you to not know too.

Click here to sign up at no cost.