Punishment By Subtraction

A relative newcomer to my new parish suggested that pictures of two of our four former pastors be removed from a wall on the concourse between our nave, social hall, and faith formation wing. The offense? It’s a substantial one: appearance on this list our archdiocese published in mid-January this year.

America also touched on this theme of subtraction. It’s not too much different from the anti-cookie movement from those upset over the PP-GSA connection. And it’s all part of a certain hypersensitivity to things troubling. PC is trending downward in public estimation, but I wonder if it’s a matter of “being polite to me, but not (necessarily) me to thee.”

I view it as a desire to inflict punishment. On someone. Somewhere. At times, anyone. I liked this analysis of the populist phenomenon in the GOP. I was reminded of a long litany of offenses against me. I mean not me personally, but as a cog component of the American middle class. Housing bust? Check: a home that lost 50% of its value in a single year, and almost half of what was left in the next few after that. A family member with thousands of dollars in medical bills. And you know the ten-letter b-word that follows on that.

Why wouldn’t I think the ACA is inadequate and single-payer a far healthier solution? Or that bankers should go to jail rather than get government-authorized bonuses? At some point, a person has to resolve that punishing someone else doesn’t further one’s own sense of happiness and fulfillment.

Giving in to the anger is all too easy. Part of a devious deception, too: taking a sense of right and wrong and twisting it into come gleeful joy at seeing someone else’s fall. Taking the framed pictures and smashing them on the floor. It’s certainly a lot easier than practicing diligence in our families, neighborhoods, workplaces, and even our very own selves:

Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord;
keep watch over the door of my lips.
Do not turn my heart to any evil,
to busy myself with wicked deeds
in company with those who work iniquity;
do not let me eat of their delicacies. (Ps 141:3-4)

I’ve always loved this Psalm since I was first exposed to it in Evening Prayer. Busying ourselves with good things …

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Commentary, Hermeneutic of Subtraction. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Punishment By Subtraction

  1. Liam says:

    Resentment is one of anger’s illegitimate children.

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