I was wrong, and I’m glad

So I finally bought a book.

Yeah, you know…those things with the pages made out of paper, all filled with words and maybe even sometimes, but not often if you’re a grown up (or people mistake you for one), containing illustrations?  Yep.  After approximately six…SIX(!!!!!) years of reading only young adult lit out loud for my young adults or bored board books to my tiny ones, I finally bit the bullet and bought myself my very own book. And it’s pink!  And it has a woman on it!  And it has “Sex” right in the title!  So nobody better put their grubby child-like and/or manly hands on it, ya hear?

Style, Sex, and Substance

Style, Sex, and Substance

Anyway, so I bought the book and then you know what I did?  I READ the book.  Oh yes I did!  With the turning of the pages and the using of the eyeballs but the not using of the voice.  It was pretty glorious.  And with chapters on motherhood, friendship, sex, and marriage (just to name a few), I knew there was a lot of wisdom to be gained from this little gem, wisdom I so desperately yearn for at this season of my life.

Then I got to the last chapter, by Barbara R. Nicolosi, entitled “Plugging In and Embracing Discipleship in the Twenty-First Century.”  And I’m going to be completely honest: I almost skipped it.  I mean, hello?  I have a blog, don’t I?  And I use facebook.  I’m even on the twitter!  Do I really need to be encouraged any more in this area?

But as usual, the Holy Spirit is clever and persuasive and I went ahead and read it after all. Thank God.  Because it turns out I’ve been being kind of a jerk.

I know.

See, I ran out of time to watch t.v. and movies.  So I decided that duh, of course those are just a waste of time anyway.  I mean, have you SEEN how Hollywood treats ________ ?  I mean, it’s like they think that it’s okay for ________ to _______ !  And then I wave my hand dismissively, like so many other people at Barbara’s workshops, and I say “It’s all garbage.”  My precious internet, of course, is simply filled with opportunities for evangelization and fellowship, but movies and television?  Pshaw!  No thanks.  I’m counter-cultural!

“It has to be regarded as a modern heresy that so many contemporary Catholics have bought into a reactionary posture of seeing themselves as apart from the culture.  We spend all our efforts not making culture but warding it off, purportedly to try and make ourselves “safe”from the flailing around of the rest of the human race.  As if the story of the times isn’t our story, too”


“Flannery O’Connor called this kind of clamoring for the safe among the people of God ‘an overemphasis on innocence.’  Because we are the people who are supposed to know about sin, it is possibly as serious a sickness as the wallowing in darkness that the pagans do.  We need to deeply reconfirm the conviction that being naive, clueless, and aloof is bad discipleship and has little in common with the wisdom of serpents and the guilelessness of doves to which Jesus calls us.”

Ruh roh.

“Five-year-olds clamor for everything to be black and white.  Discernment is predicable of spiritually mature adults.”


This doesn’t mean, of course, that I’m going to plant my 30.2 weeks pregnant hiney in the middle of the ratty old sofa in the den, ignore my household responsibilities, my children, and my precious internet just so I can catch up on every episode of every season of every Emmy award winning show that I’ve never seen and have so capriciously decided are a waste of anyone’s time and energy (I wish!).

But maybe I can open my mind to some media that isn’t so safe.  Media that will require me to consider and discern and explain why it might not be as wonderful as people wish it were, or perhaps why it, in fact, actually is.  Or why it isn’t but it’s worth it anyway.  Maybe I can embrace the idea of the smart phone and the I-whatever, not because I’ve overcome my dread of talking on the telephone but because perhaps they too can be important tools in this journey.
And maybe I won’t wait for another six years to read the kind of book that can make me say “I was wrong, and I’m glad.”

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Dwija Borobia lives with her husband and their four (soon-to-be-five!) kids in rural southwest Michigan in a fixer-upper they bought sight-unseen off the internet. Between homeschooling and corralling chickens, she pretends her time on the internet doesn’t count because she uses the computer standing up. You can read more on her bloghouse unseen. life unscripted.


Dwija Borobia lives with her husband and their five kids in rural southwest Michigan in a fixer-upper they bought sight-unseen off the internet. Between homeschooling and corralling chickens, she pretends her time on the internet doesn’t count because she uses the computer standing up. You can read more on her blog house unseen. life unscripted.

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  • I walk the line between understanding intellectually that I cannot evangelize the culture unless I can find some sort of common ground with the culture on one hand, and coming away from some popular shows feeling actually dirty.  

    I think it’s important for Catholics to realize that just like we’re not called to be all things to all people, we’re not going to be able to connect with all aspects of popular culture.  I think I’ve gone on and on about my love of ghost hunter shows a time or two, but I completely respect faithful Catholics who wouldn’t ever watch them.  I feel the same way about shows like “Glee” or “Grey’s Anatomy”.  They’re not for me, and so I’m not going to be able to connect with the culture in that area.  However, because of the unique person God had in mind when He created me, I am able to connect with the segment of the culture who also enjoys ghost hunter shows.  We share a genuine interest in that genre of entertainment, and from that interest, who knows what the Holy Spirit can do?

    Perhaps the best thing we can do is find aspects of our interests that are reflected in popular culture, prayerfully consume them, and then find ways to connect with people who share those interests.  Keep it genuine, keep it authentic, and you’ll have found a whole new channel to bring Christ’s light to those who need it.

  • Absolutely.  I had fallen into the trap of worrying that any moment spent on anything that may not be specifically holy was somehow a sin.  And by “anything” I meant television or movies.  Any of them.  All of them.  I don’t know why.  Capriciousness.  Lack of desire to really discern why.  Not enough hours in my day.  And then I was all “Hey, since I don’t have a smartphone, those must be wasteful, too!  And wastefulness is a sin!”  And so on and so forth….

  • May I recommend GCB? It’s hilarious and at least has a kind of Christian theme to it 🙂

  • steph

    as long as you stay true to your phone talking hating ways…. i will have to pick this book up. 

  • You will know that I did not exaggerate my lack of t.v. and movie watching when I say:  Um….what does GCB stand for?  Help a sistah out!

  • Yes!  Get the book!  It’s like getting 10 little books in one.  And y’all know I like a good bargain….

  • chaco

     I’ve got “2 cents” to contribute to the “How do we interact with a secular culture ?” debate;  I know some who have gone the SSPX route, and after much discerning came up with this acronymn to remind me how to deal with such” non-winsome postures” ;  M.S. – V.S. (I pronounce it; Ms. Vis which reminds me of Mary’s visitation to her cousin Elizabeth)   M – mercy   needs to be emphasized more than  S – sin    and   V – victory   over sufferring/sacrifice     needs to be emphasized more than
     S – sufferring/sacrifice    for it’s own sake.    I can’t see how any soul can be swayed if we come across as “Holier than Thou” preachers who 1) Rub people’s noses in their sin  &   2) give the impression that our lives as christians are like children in constant fear of punishment for stepping out of line.    I don’t mean to be uncharitable, but such legalism reminds me of Deputy Barney Fife from the Andy Griffith / Mayberry RFD show;  Always harping about the “Letter of the Law”.  I think we win more souls by being like Sherriff Andy, who in contrast emphasized the Spirit /Love of the law. We need to distinguish between Disciplinary laws of the Church & Laws of Faith / belief. Disciplinary laws can be changed. The form of a Church Service / Mass does not alter it’s meaning. [Not to mention that many Catholic Rites, other than the Latin Rite, have always been recognized as valid.]   MERCY – VICTORY

  • GBC is the name of the show. Originally, it was called Good Christian Bitches, but people complained. Imagine that! Someone once wisely said ” I mean, have you SEEN how Hollywood treats ________ ?  I mean, it’s like they think that it’s okay for ________ to _______ !” Listen to her! But there is some good TV…hem….

  • Jane

    This reminds me of the time I read about the Vatican’s MySpace playlist including Tupac’s ‘Changes’ (http://brucemctague.com/tag/2pac).  I was so confused, but his song captures the reality of the human situation and the desire for redemption.  I think there are many more places where we find ‘creation groaning,’ and also, creation rejoicing, in culture.

  • Erin Martinez

    Thank you for this post! You mentioned this book before. My bible study group is going to read it next thanks to your recommendation. Now, I’m even more excited to read it! Also, I had no idea what GCB was either.

  • Very interesting comparison, Jane.  I like it!

  • I’m glad you guys are gonna read it.  So uplifting!

  • olivia demkowicz

    I dont agreee with the author you quoted. I dont agree with most of this actually, except that I am glad that you are taking some time to relax and read!

  • I wish you would expound a little because I value your opinion!  The entire chapter was much more full than I could fit into this review but the notion of being able to evangelize by intentionally NOT participating in any modern culture as being unreasonable struck a chord with me.  Not because I love pop culture so much but rather because I don’t and I want to be open to whatever is best for the world and the Church. 

  • Pingback: “Style, Sex, and Substance” in YOUR words (Take 2)…()