Skip to main content

If I could write a letter to me...

Country singer Brad Paisley recorded a great song, "If I could write a letter to me" a few years ago and that is going through my head as I read a couple of internet exchanges. Emma Smith has been chronicling her engagement and marriage prep over at Catholic exchange. Her latest post entitled Marriage is Work is a reflection on how differently she feels about marriage than do her secular divorced coworkers. Emma is full of faith, hope and optimism. She really believes that her marriage is not going to be like theirs. She and her future husband are anchoring their marriage in a divine love, not a temporal one and Emma is confident that will make a difference. If she really did not believe with all her heart that her marriage is going to be one of faithfulness, unlike the marriages of her coworkers, should she even be getting married?

Well known Catholic blogger Simcha Fisher could not abide such youthful optimism and felt the need to bring Emma Smith back to reality. Simcha (Maybe I should say Fisher. She keeps referring to Emma Smith as "Smith" in her rebuttal piece.) is absolutely right in everything she says about marriage. However, what she says has been gleaned from years of experience. She even says that what Emma wrote is what she would have written at that stage in her life. So I have no idea why she feels the need to belittle Emma Smith's piece. When I suggested in the comment box that the view from a few years down the road could have been offered without personally attacking the bride-to-be I was told by all the Simcha fans that considering the level of snark Simcha is capable of, this was a kind and charitable response. "But I hope to God she is never involved in any kind of marriage ministry" does not sound very kind and charitable to me.

I really did not read Emma Smith's article as a declaration that because she is a faithful Catholic nothing bad will happen in her marriage. I read it as the reflection of a young woman who is immersed in a cynical, secular culture of failed marriages and she still has the confidence to go forward in marriage because she has faith in God and will anchor her marriage in that faith. Those of us who have been married for a few years know with all our hearts she is going to need that faith. She will be tested. Her husband will be tested. They will be tested together. So for now, at her stage in life, she needs that optimism and confidence to jump with both feet into marriage. If she just dips a toe into marriage now, how will she stand firm when the trials of heartaches, sickness, and whatever other misfortunes that are the reality of life strike?

Some have said that Simcha is just saying what a wiser, older sister should say. If I had an older sister and she had said these things to me as I was getting ready to be married I would have been crushed. I am way too old to be Emma Smith's sister, so I will speak as an old aunt. Go forward in faith. Be not afraid. You will grow. You will learn. But for now, you are where you should be.

UPDATE:  Mea Culpa to Simcha Fisher because she took issue with my parenthetical comment about referring to Emma Smith as just "Smith". It is AP style to write that way. Ok. I had been criticized in her com box for suggesting that her critique of Emma Smith was harsh as Simcha Fisher was just offering "sisterly correction". Well, I never called my sister by just a last name so that seemed an odd way of doing it to me. So noted. She is just following the AP style book. Since the gist of my concern is that Fisher's piece was critical of Emma Smith for not speaking with the wisdom of experience she did not have, it is a minor issue.

UPDATE #2: Wow! Dare to disagree with Simcha and the hordes descend upon you. Glad I have comment moderation turned on. One last word from me on this here.

UPDATE #3: Emma Smith has written her own response with maturity and grace. Do read it here.







Comments

Rosemary Bogdan said…
I agree with your assessment, Denise. Her calling Emma Smith "childish" was also unkind and over stated. Maybe naive. Maybe in love and innocent. Childish is derogatory.
Anonymous said…
Agree with you completely, Denise. Thank you for your support of Emma. We need more young Catholic couples like her and her fiancé. If a Sacramental life in Christ gains us no grace to live out our vocation of marriage faithfully, then what is it for? Of course people can choose wrong. But, it is not inevitable that infidelity will happen. Thank you again, Cindy
Barb, ofs said…
It's a shame that someone who is trying to do something the right way in a world that absolutely encourages the wrong way would become a victim of snark at the hands of someone who is supposed to be on the same team.
Denise Hunnell said…
And unfortunately the snark continues. After posting a conciliatory sounding post on my Facebook page, Ms. Fisher starts a new thread on her Facebook page lamenting how "tone deaf" some of her readers are and how they should just read Gwyneth Paltrow if they don't like her tone.
Laura said…
A lot of the anger was my fault, I spelled her name incorrectly. Several times. Which was stupid of me and embarrassing. What is bothersome to me is that I think she is a talented writer, but she's developed this following that freaks out if anyone criticizes her. She.encourages them by drawing attention to any disagreement with her and getting huffy. I didn't think this piece was snarky, just unkind and preachy and somewhat hypocritical considering she noted that she, herself, was once like Smith. Fisher mentioned being annoyed that certain readers were upset about her hurting Smith's feelings. I didn't worry about that at all. You can see that Smith is not the sort to need a defense against her feelings being injured. I just thought it was useless to go after someone with stars in their eyes. Why bother trying to burst that bubble? It will certainly rupture and then it's a good time to offer advice. My misspelling of her name was a ridiculous error and I feel bad about it, but it's interesting to me that she was unable to just simply correct me in a adult and manerly fashion. If I had been agreeing with her would she and her husband have acted in a similar fashion? I think you just can't comment unless you are going to agree with her. Not unless you want to end up in an ugly argument. I agreed with you. Brides, new mothers, young people just starting out-they sometimes just need experience. Even when they put their opinion out there publicly, I'm not sure lectures in response will help the way a smack in.the head from life will.
Simcha Fisher said…
No, I didn't call anyone "tone deaf." Someone else said that. I know you're mad, and I'm sorry you feel picked on. I have a lot of FB friends, and when you engage me on Facebook, you are going to get involved with lots of people, guaranteed. I guess you will want to avoid that in the future.

Many readers brought up tone today, and I have an ongoing frustration with the constant insistence that Catholic writers be all nice all the time. I meant what I said: all nice all the time is what you're looking for, then don't look for anything with any substance.

Here's the thing that bugs me: you persist in criticizing my tone, but you haven't responded to my repeated comment that Smith's IDEAS -- much more important than tone, right? -- are cruel and damaging to many women. You just keep talking about tone. I don't understand this.
Simcha Fisher said…
Also, my goodness, you don't like it when my Facebook friends agree with me, but apparently you've decided not to post comments here if you don't like them. Your blog, your rules, whatever you like, obviously! But you kind of lose the moral high ground if you're doing the exact same thing.
Laura said…
Ugh, "mannetly fashion," not "manerly." Shouldn't ever use a phone to comment.
Denise Hunnell said…
Laura, the anger is absolutely not your fault. We are all adults. You did nothing wrong other than make an innocent spelling error. There was nothing malicious in that. People who choose to be angry over such a small thing do so of their own free will. Obviously there are some wounded people whose bitterness just came spewing forth today for some reason. It is their problem. Not yours.
Denise Hunnell said…
For those who are reading this post and wondering, I have not blocked any comments from these posts. I always have comment moderation due to a previous problem with some people objecting to my pro-life views and wanting to leave vulgar comments or other personal insults.
Laura said…
Thanks, Denise. Hope you have a good weekend!

Popular posts from this blog

Parent Letter from a Catechist

I am going to be teaching seventh grade CCD this year. We do most of the preparation for confirmation during this year since Confirmation is usually scheduled for the fall of the eighth grade year.I have composed a letter to the parents to try and keep them active in their children's religious education. I thought I would post it here and get your feedback before I send it out in a couple of weeks.

I am privileged to be your child’s seventh grade CCD teacher for the 2006-2007 school year. This is a very important year. We will focus on your child’s preparation for confirmation. Of course, you have already been preparing your child for this sacrament for many years. You are the primary catechist for your child. You show how important your Faith is by making Mass attendance a top priority and by family prayer.

Confirmation is one of the Sacraments of Initiation. It is a beginning. It is not a graduation. This year we will work to solidify the foundation of your child’s Catholic Faith.…

Dispelling the Myth of the Travel Dispensation

One of the fun things about having a site meter on my blog is I can see which posts garner the most attention. I can also see how people find my blog. One of the most read posts from my two years of blogging is this one that discusses finding Mass while traveling. I would like to think this post is so popular because it is so well written. The truth of the matter is that it generates so much traffic because I use the words “travel dispensation for Mass”—as in “There is no such thing as a travel dispensation for Mass.” I would guess that nearly a dozen times every week, someone googles “travel dispensation for Mass” and finds my blog. I wonder how many of these folks are poor souls trying to assuage their Catholic guilt with evidence of a justification for missing Mass while on the road.

I know that when I tell my seventh grade CCD students that attending Mass every Sunday is a commandment (one of the top ten!) and not just a pretty good idea they are amazed. Missing Mass has become so …

United Breaks Guitars

This guy is really talented and what a creative way to get your message across. I think he captured the "indifferent employee" perfectly. They don't just work for airlines. I think I ran into them at Walmart on Friday!