Misinterpretation at the Juncture of Change

—The following is a personal account story as retold by Patrick C. Beeman in an op-ed article titled “Balance for the church lies between mercy and doctrinal fidelity” that appeared on the National Catholic Reporter website.


“A few months ago, I attended Mass but was not receiving Communion that day. So while everyone processed up to receive, I knelt in the pew to pray. I opened up the Catholic app on my phone to review the day's reading, holding it in two open hands like a prayer book.


“Just as I my eyes came upon "the love of God has been poured into our hearts" (Romans 5:5), a hand came upon my phone, yanking it from my loose grasp and flung it on the pew in front of me.


“Startled. Disoriented. I looked up to find a 30-something woman glaring at me with a vicious scowl. "Will you put that away, please!" she angrily demanded. Then she turned around, knelt down, pulled out a prayer book and prayed.


“Thinking back on the experience, I have to wonder if that angry woman's response is how some gay people experience their fellow Christians' response to them. Or to the divorced. Or unwed mothers. Or the heavily tattooed and pierced. Or any number of people who don't fit neatly into the local parish's demographic. I was convicted. I have been that angry woman, so quick to make a snap judgment about someone's soul or sincerity because of an aspect of his or her life that didn't comport with my own neat and tidy worldview.”


This is an easily misconstrued situation by a fellow parishioner, I suppose. Technology is changing so fast, and different generations sometimes have a hard time keeping up with new forms of media. There are times when the flourishing technology of cell phones is devastatingly ill-mannered and rude. I haven’t been to a public movie house in probably ten years without someone answering his or her phone during the film. Despite movie theater rules and etiquette, some people still somehow feel that it is their personal right to interrupt others around them to satisfy their own needs for distraction. (Lots of commentary has been written on this phenomenon, and frankly, it’s not necessary for me to add my two-cents to the fray, other than as an observation of the phenomenon itself.) 

Fans of Pope Françis use new technology to take "selfies" with the supreme pontiff.

Having lived in the Miscrosoftopolis of the greater Seattle area for almost twenty years, I’ve had my share of being introduced to rapid new social norms through the release of new technologies and their absorption by the commercial public. (Google glasses were pissing off people in Seattle business establishments long before other places; and I remember distinctly coming to the realization that there wasn’t, as anyone might have suspected at first impression, an epidemic of crazy people talking to themselves as they walked down city streets, but rather that wireless headsets were allowing people to have phone conversations in very public places without having to hold any phone device up to their ears at all!)


Cellphone technology and “connectivity” isn’t any different than other forms of new technology—there are beneficial aspects to innovation, as well as detrimental aspects when people decide to abuse the technology, forget social virtues, ethics, and graces, or even when people are corrupted to believe that they can outwit or bypass social etiquette through the use of the technology. 


Sometimes we aren’t ready or prepared to see things from a different perspective, and it can be jarring to our sensibilities. Sometimes something is so new or different that we can’t understand or comprehend how it could even be possible. Tarot Grandmaster Christiana Gaudet, on her personal blog, recently wrote some very wise words on this subject:


“…people come to the truth they can handle, when they are ready. Sometimes the cards come up to allow us simply to plant the seed. It may be months, or even years, before the client is ready to deal with their truth. We have to be OK with that.”


Sometimes the tarot is a good way to ease ourselves into new ideas and new possibilities—but as with anything, it is good to slow oneself down and try to understand it from several perspectives, process it from its roots, and learn about it in a compassionate and responsible manner. How? Talk it through… Don’t be afraid to talk about things or ask questions or find additional resources in order to understand how you are feeling about a situation or about the phenomena or people that might be affecting you.


Everything seems to change so quickly and everyone is in such a hurry to get to the next place or to acquire the next new thing. But sometimes it’s just good to take a breath and observe things for a while, absorb them meticulously or even languidly for a while. Maybe these big bright shiny new things won’t be for us… or maybe they will. You don’t have to decide right away. We don’t always have to be first in line or know it “all.”


Nor should we jump to conclusions or judgments about every situation (or about people) either. The story above is interesting because of the irony evident in the scenario. The woman would have done well to have perhaps asked nicely rather than having acted out brazenly and physically. But in the same light, perhaps she had experienced rude and selfish affronts several times previous to this episode and finally found it to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. We cannot know—but we can always choose to react compassionately. She might have done well to have remembered that the Gutenberg printing press was a new innovation at one time—without which she wouldn’t have had the opportunity to have turned to her printed-version Bible!

In regards to tarot and a reader-client interaction, the client may not always be at a “place” to understand or comprehend a new or drastic change in life right away. Sometimes the reader has to be compassionate towards this, and while “planting” the alternative viewpoint or possibility, still allow the client to come to the understanding or solution on their own terms. Pushing a client towards choices they don’t fully understand isn’t going to help anyone. For one thing those choices aren’t conscious if they aren’t understood and may backfire or, at minimum, create more confusion. Clients ought to truly comprehend what actions they are about to undertake as a way to take responsibility for their lives. Performing a virtuous deed doesn’t promote virtuousness unless the person performing the deed understands why they are doing it. …Give a person a fish and they will be hungry again by tomorrow; teach a person to fish and they won’t ever go hungry again, as the adage goes…



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