Last night I finally had enough and deactivated my Facebook account. I had removed it from my phone but would check in during the day once or twice. But yesterday even that was too much. I simply got tired of all the fake political news articles being posted. More than that however, I’m tired of being told who to vote for. Friends on the right yelling at me to vote for Trump. Friends on the left doing the same for Clinton. Not often in such nice terms. So I said “Enough”, selected the appropriate buttons on Facebook, and shut ‘er down.
Last week I wrote that on Election Night I was thinking of
…inviting over a few close friends I have on both sides of the partisan divide to break bread, enjoy a libation or two, and sit around the firepit. No phones. No politics. Perhaps taking a break from our conversation to pray a rosary or my leading/teaching them to pray Vespers (Protestants have been known to pray a form of the Divine Office) and in our own way we’d still be sanctifying time with our friendship. Common ground.
Soon after writing this I learned that I would be at my son’s junior high basketball game and therefore unable to do this tonight. But that doesn’t mean I’m opposed to doing so on another night. Indeed I’ve attempted this a few times but have thus far been unsuccessful due mostly to scheduling conflicts. But I’ll keep trying because I do feel it’s important to commune with people in a face-to-face environment. There’s something about “the screen” that makes us all a little crazy.
Someone else is regretting his actions on Twitter during this election process and unleashed this 29 Tweet mea culpa last night. And to further this thought process I recalled reading this entry written in the Magnificat Year of Mercy Companion by Monsignor Gregory E.S. Malovetz for November 4:
She learned at her family’s table. The daughter of Hungarian and Slovak parents, my mother grew up believing there was always room at the table. That belief followed her through all the years as a mother, grandmother, and today as a great-grandmother. There is always room at the table to squeeze in another person at Christmas, Easter, or other occasions. When the number grows from eleven to nineteen people, her response is always the same: “How could I say no?”
Paul’s Letter to the Romans is his longest, written to introduce himself and present his message to them. One of the great themes of this letter is the universal call of Jesus to follow him. Jews and Gentiles alike are offered the invitation to sit at the table.
There is something both touching and challenging when we realize that he can never say no. Anyone with a sincere heart is welcomed. Paul writes he has mercy upon whom he wills (Romans 9:18), insisting that in God there is always the spirit of welcome. The followers of Jesus, to live that mercy, must cultivate a spirit of welcome. We must be willing to confront the hard truth: whom do we exclude not only from our dining tables but from the table of the human family? We can understand God’s mercy only when we are challenged by the question, “How could I say no?”
As this cycle winds down and we prepare to emerge on the other side, no matter who wins we must find a way to put this behind us and come together at table. In the last few months I’ve upset friends on the left and the right for not supporting “the obvious choice”, i.e. their choice. One woman, a Catholic mom and registered Democrat that I’ve known for over fourteen years and whose son I coached in little league unfriended me on Facebook because of the singular political post I wrote about the leaked emails that showed the Clinton campaign and John Podesta were working actively against the Catholic Church in order to create confusion and cause a “Catholic spring”. (I’m not providing links to the Podesta story because they are legion and I’m tired of it.) This upset her so much that this friend who had been averaging 2-3 political posts a day to my zero political posts accused me of “just posting too much political crap” and blocked me. I like to think that her exiting our church next to me after Mass a week later was more uncomfortable for her than for me.
Actually I don’t like to think that. The whole episode is just a sad reminder of how far our civility and discourse as a nation has fallen. While I’m definitely guilty of Pride when it comes to the “Seven Deadlies”, Gluttony is a very close second. Yet I can think of nothing better to do than to pull people together over a good meal, drink and conversation. Oh, and no screens allowed.
Over at First Things in an article named Cocktail Theology, William Dailey writes:
“God gives us wine to cheer our souls,” sayeth the psalmist—and quite right, too. It was no accident that our Lord’s public ministry began at a joyous wedding celebration, one saved by the generous intervention of Christ in providing the greatest vintage ever poured. There’s a conviviality to a shared libation that draws us together, lifts our spirits, and cuts what Walker Percy called “the cold phlegm of Wednesday afternoons.”
So on that note I say “Sláinte!” as we begin to hopefully mend some fences in need of serious care. In addition to this feasting and fence-mending, and as this election falls further back in the rearview mirror, I will strive to do as Fr. Longenecker pledged when he wrote:
I will try to say the Divine Office for the good of the world and Christ’s church. I will attempt to pray the rosary every day for the blessing of my family, my parish and the world and for the defeat of evil. I will attempt to promote the rosary and the Divine Mercy for the salvation of souls and for the good of all people.