Friday, June 17, 2011

Netroots Nation 2011: Waiting for Russ

Wisconsin's Russ Feingold
As we waited for Howard Dean and Russ Feingold, Pamela and I talked about Catholicism.

She grew up Catholic in Pittsburgh. She now lives and works in Arlington, Va.

I grew up Catholic in suburban Denver and rural Washington state and Wichita, Kan., and Daytona Beach, Fla. I now live and work in Cheyenne, Wyo.

Different backgrounds. Same era. And we share a common dilemma about Catholicism: do we stay or do we go?

She stayed. I went -- sort of. I called myself a Cultural Catholic, a term I've heard bandied about lately. She refers to herself as an Aesthetic and Cultural Catholic. She likes the ritual and tempo of the mass, the youthful memories of her incense-filled churches in the Irish and Slovak neighborhoods of Pittsburgh. She also stays actively Catholic because, when she travels, she can feel at home in churches around the globe.

All great reasons. I said that I don't go to any of the three Catholic churches in Cheyenne because they are too conservative. I grew tired of haranguing from the pulpit about abortion and Liberals, both equally evil in the eyes of narrow-minded 21st-century priests and deacons.

Pamela avoids going to mass in Arlington's Catholic churches for the same reason. She likes the D.C. churches, only a Metro ride away. I miss that about D.C.

She and I both wondered what happened to Democratic parishes and priests. She grew up surrounded by working people who were Democrats. The priests all seemed to be Democrats and only the bishops were mildly Republican so as to curry favor with politicians (churches pay no taxes and like it that way) and the well-to-do Catholic businessmen who might be Repubs.

I never knew whether my priests and fellow parishioners were D or R. And I liked it that way.

Another great thing about growing up Irish Catholic -- lively conversations with people who have red hair and Irish last names.

Pamela isn't a blogger. She volunteers and contributes to campaigns and causes. She heard about the conference and thought it sounded interesting. But she works for the government and doesn't think it's prudent to blast her opinions into the blogosphere. I've heard others say the same thing. Perfectly understandable, especially in this crazy era.

The lights went up on stage. Howard and Russ were on their way.

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