Thursday, April 22, 2010

If I Hurt Your Feelings, I'm Terribly Sorry

Human beings have to be the most interesting species on the planet. Not that I’ve studied all the species but I have a hunch. I think it’s because we’re all different in so many ways while we’re all the same. We’re all sensitive to our own interests and desires; we all have our own likes and dislikes; and, most of the time, no one knows everything that will upset another. One person’s opinion goes in the ear of one and out the other side while that same opinion or statement goes in another person’s ear, stays and festers.

Something simple might upset one person while it takes being hit over the head with a rock to upset another. Some people understand and prefer the idea of being “politically correct.” Others think of it as hogwash and that anyone who is upset with some who is not politically correct should just get over it. I have a strong Southern accent and hate it when someone mocks me as they try to talk with my Southern drawl or wants me to speak as they do. I say puddin’ instead of pudding. So what? It’s how I enunciate that word. Quit making fun of me! Oh, you’re not? Maybe I misunderstood.

And, I have a Jewish background, though technically since my mother was not Jewish, I’m not Jewish. But, my Dad was, and I’m sensitive to disparaging remarks about Jews, especially since many of my relatives were destroyed in the Holocaust. I’m protective of Israel, though my sister who lives there thinks I’m otherwise. I’ve asked plenty of people to stop with the ugly references about Jews, but you’d be amazed who says what when. How many times have I been told I have a Jew nose? What does that mean?

People are sensitive about their appearance, about their education, about their politics, about their religion, about their work. Yesterday, in this space, I mentioned an apology to the NC State fund-raiser who I believe misunderstood what I was trying to say. Maybe the way I said it was insensitive to her work. Slap me on the forehead. What was I thinking?!?! I was trying to make a point and because she took it one way when I meant it another way, she was upset.

Sometimes, okay, a lot of times, I rag on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and it upsets some of its graduates that I don’t think too highly of that school. Hey, the Tar Heels are #1. If you don’t believe me, ask any graduate or student thereof. And, that’s okay. If they want to think that, great! But I don’t, no matter what any stats or magazines may say. And, by the way, is it insensitive for UNC fans to refer to the Duke basketball coach as Rat Face. And, remember, I could care less about the Duke-Carolina rivalry, and that I don’t care is a problem for those who do. That’s their problem not mine. Maybe I'm insensitive to their feelings about it.

I go after NC State when I think things are wrong there. To some, that’s being insensitive to my alma mater. Keep it inside, I’m told. Can’t I support the University and criticize it at the same time? If the leadership there doesn’t think so, all I can say is, GET OVER IT. Or do things differently. Like win, baby, win!

But this posting today is not about college athletics or about University chain of command or what I think about UNC, or about my sensitivities. It’s about religion and my being insensitive to a friend (at least she used to be before I wrote what I wrote) who is a Catholic. She thinks I have a bias against Catholics and their religion. Not true. The bottom line is that I respect all religions, none over another, none better than another. I do not make fun of Baptists as some people I know do. Matter of fact, I have a great deal respect for religiously-affiliated people and their religion thereof. My mother was Baptist, one of the all-time great religious affiliations of our time.

However, some people feel their religion is at a different level than others and that their leaders are better than others. And, it’s okay to feel that way; as a matter of fact, I admire anyone who feels that way about their religion, be it faith or Carolina basketball. But, I feel I can disagree when I wish. I can respect their opinion and offer mine, without membership, I feel. (Of course, we all know if it weren't for the Jews, there'd be no Catholics. Seems as if Mary, Joseph and Jesus were Jewish. Oops, there I go again.)

About a week ago, I said Tiger Woods is an angel compared to Pope Benedict. Let me rephrase that as a question: Which is worse, cheating on your wife with at least 12 women (though once is enough), or being or harboring someone who is a pedophile. Let’s take that completely out of context. A neighbor on one side of you is cheating on his or her spouse, and the male neighbor on the other sided of you is having sex with young boys, say ages 8 through 12. You learn of both circumstances and confront both neighbors. Each asks that you keep it quiet. What do you do? What should you do? I’ll let you answer that one.

My neighbor who used to be my friend said I do not understand the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. And, that’s a very true statement. Never have; never tried to; probably never will completely. But what I really do not understand is that when a priest commits a civil crime why is it kept quiet to be discovered later. Why not call the cops right then? Someone please explain why the complexities of the Catholic Church prevent this. Isn’t that—harboring someone who breaks a law—a crime as well? Or are our religious leaders above the laws outside the church? My opinion: the law is the law to everyone.

I’ve never said this does not go on in other religions but then if those same problems exist in other religions, it hasn't been front page news. Maybe there’s been adultery and stealing among leaders of all religions, but taking advantage of altar boys (or the likes of in other religions) is not something that’s common place, or seemingly so. There may be cause for the actions of priests who do this, but I can't think of one excuse that makes it okay.

Look, I made a statement that said Tiger Woods is an angel compared to Pope Benedict. It was a way of comparing what one did versus what the other did and not to be taken literally. In our system of laws, one is a crime and the other is not. Woods an angel? No, absolutely not. The Pope guilty of wrong-doing? Well, when he wasn’t Pope, probably so, especially in the eyes of the Lord, if he knowingly kept quiet. But, if he still knows now what he knew then, is that wrong as well, even if he is the Pope? The reference to angel or not was simply to put the two “wrong-doings” in the proper perspective, not to place a label on one and disparage the other.

But, for my used-to-be-friend (and others), I was over the top with my statement, and that’s because she’s sensitive to any discussion about Catholicism, especially if you’re not Catholic, from any other perspective. And that's okay as well. I admire your strong allegiance to the Catholic Church. If I hurt your feelings, I’m terribly sorry; I did not do it purposely directed at you, and I hope that you’ll use your strong faith to forgive me and remain my friend. Maybe go to a few football games this fall? OK, at least think about it.


  1. Jim, I am Catholic and you are still my friend. If we Catholics cleaned up our own mess, non-Catholics would not feel a need to get into our stuff. Maybe it is okay for our clergy to forgive a sin or the breaking of a criminal law, but that does not excuse the facilitation of tramsferring a pedophile secretly to another location thus allowing the repetition of the crime.

  2. Seem too busy some days to read your blog, and I generally enjoy your postings. Thought today’s was one of your best. As a Catholic, I am not offended by your writings. I guess, maybe I don’t take it all so seriously, and humor and being nudged to think and/or defend what you believe while being open to others views are part of why we are free in America. You touch on a lot of things today, and having had a Jewish roommate in college, I was more clued into the “wise cracks and jokes” that were made to him, though none of these where really jokes but stereotypical jabs at him.

    The sky over England was bluer yesterday because no airline travel has left any vapor trails in the air (due to the volcano) and there is a great AP story about that clarity with which people saw their world and how it made them reflect on a simpler time. Perhaps your writings also provide that same clarity at times, even if a person can view some of what you write as muddied and not clear at all on other occasions. Again, that is why we have free thought, speech and our world is open to these things! Blog on brother Pomeranz!

  3. Dear Mr. Insensitive,

    You "don't think too highly of that school" (UNC CH). Really? Well, I do, and I also think highly of NC State and Duke, (plus a long list of other schools too numerous to mention) and I really appreciate what all 3 have contributed to the quality of life in this area and this state. I also think even higher of some other schools, so I don't think UNC CH is "#1" in anything, (unless you want to bring athletics into the discussion, and then maybe I could make a strong argument for women's soccer). And yes, it's insensitive for UNC fans to refer to K as Rat Face. I think every school has an equal number of biased and irrational sports fans per capita and I think that's perfectly fine, and normal. Unless they continually run afoul of the rules, I don't judge schools based on their athletics or their fans. Maybe you don't either-maybe you genuinely don't think too highly of UNC CH, but you have written enough over time to make me think athletics/fans is a large part of your criteria. It starts to sound like the same kind of bias your friend has for the Catholic church.

    Sensitive in Durham


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