By Mark Azzara
My Dear Friend,
I don’t know what’s gotten into me but I have been on a concerted cleaning jag lately. I found the energy on a wilting hot day to vacuum my place. I went through stacks of unread stuff piled on my dining table and couch. Next on my list is that collection of unread Smithsonian magazines (a subscription from a friend who thinks I have time to read).
Perhaps most important, I deleted, without reading, more than 900 emails stored in that bottomless pit known as the Yahoo mail server.
Why would I keep all those unread emails, some of which dated back to 2013? Because I hoped that these subscription news emails, which I get every day, would contain good topics to write about on this site. I now realize they don’t.
I also have a list of blog ideas apart from all those emails. Before deleting it, I thought it would be amusing — for me, at least, if not for you — to share some of the topics that I once thought were important for me to address, but which I now realize would only lead both of us down a path that God doesn’t want either one of us to walk. Among those topics:
- A New York Times article about how majority-Catholic countries are in the vanguard of the pro-same-sex-marriage effort.
- A study that claims poverty is growing faster in suburbs than in core cities.
- The reality TV show “Sister Wives” and the court decisions regarding the polygamous family that “stars” in the program.
- A look at honesty, identity and Rachel Dolezal.
- A Yahoo story about a bisexual couple — a guy who thinks he’s a girl attracted to a girl who thinks she’s a guy, and who have even had biological children together (with the “dad” also being the biological mother).
- A poignant email from a friend’s granddaughter on why she left the Catholic Church.
- The silence of Christians on the treatment of mental health problems.
- Religious liberty from various perspectives, including the same-sex-marriage debate.
- A Catholic canon lawyer’s assessment of the massive extent of a cover-up of sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis.
- The near collapse of the birth rate among non-immigrants in western Europe and Canada.
- The devaluing of higher education, as universities become the “Walmarts of higher education.” Which, I guess, would include comment on a new book about why college students cheat.
- How Catholic bishops are rushing to keep up with the changes resulting from Pope Francis’ decisions, pronouncements and attitudes.
- The Rev. Joel Osteen. Enough said.
- The debate over “shaming” of girls for what they wear in school, and whether the real focus should be on the attitude that boys have toward girls.
- David Linker’s New York Times article, “Catholicism, George W. Bush, and the cluelessness of the religious right.”
- The Catholic bishops’ synod on the family, which will reconvene in October, just a month after the pope’s first visit to the U.S.
- Hillary Clinton’s demand that religious beliefs must change to accommodate homosexuals.
- Caitlyn (nee Bruce) Jenner.
- The faux heroism of corporations that “give back” to society.
- A Barna Group study on whether evangelism is going out of style.
- A National Catholic Reporter article quoting Asian bishops as saying the Catholic Church just doesn’t understand how Asians approach the faith.
- American “Christians” who are fomenting anti-gay hatred in Uganda and Nigeria.
- Teen actor Jaden Smith (son of actor Will Smith) telling his more than 4.5 million Twitter followers to drop out of school or be brainwashed.
- The flatlining of wages for low-income workers while corporate chief executives’ salary increased 16 percent.
- The outrageous out-of-context abuse and misuse of Pope Francis’ most famous statement, “Who am I to judge?” because it fails to include the entire remark, in which he said, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
- A California judge’s ruling that yoga is OK in schools, despite objections from Christians that yoga is a spiritual exercise, hence a form of religion.
There was a time when I thought all of this stuff was important enough to justify expressing my opinion. There was a time when I thought my opinion was really important. But my opinions are mostly about what’s in my head. I am now vastly more concerned about what’s in my heart. More to the point, dwelling on those issues and opinions only distracts me from Jesus, and especially from understanding and appreciating his opinion of me.
Forgive my curiosity, but have you ever asked God about his opinion of you?
All God’s blessings – Mark
Mark Azzara spent 45 years in print journalism, most of them with the Waterbury Republican in Connecticut, where he was a features writer with a special focus on religion at the time of his retirement. He also worked for newspapers in New Haven and Danbury, Conn. At the latter paper, while sports editor, he won a national first-place writing award on college baseball. Azzara also has served as the only admissions recruiter for a small Catholic college in Connecticut and wrote a self-published book on spirituality, “And So Are You.” He is active in his church and facilitates two Christian study groups for men. Azzara grew up in southern California, graduating from Cal State Los Angeles. He holds a master’s degree from the University of Connecticut.