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Give Beauty Slowly (and Mormon Mommy Blogs)

November 2, AD 2011 5 Comments

   It seems that our religion is usually pretty counter-cultural. The world says one thing, God says another. So it was no surprise when I discovered John Paul II’s Theology of the Body says we’re not supposed to use people, we’re supposed to be gifts of love to one another. However, I learned one of the most counter-cultural concepts last year at the National Theology of the Body Congress (tobcongress.com) from Fr. Brian Bransfield. (You can buy talks here.)

   He first explained the “world’s” thinking that two revolutions helped shape. The industrial revolution introduced technology and started speeding things up to fast-paced. It helped change cultural mentality to “acquire things quickly”. Then along came the sexual revolution, which changed culture to acquiring pleasure as #1. So now we live in a world that lives, trying to acquire pleasure quickly.

   This is very obvious: we want everything fast. Meals and cooking fast, transportation and traffic fast, money-making fast and most especially we want to feel good fast. We don’t want to be sad, we don’t want to suffer… we want to give ourselves pleasure quickly. Physical pleasures are at the center of our consumerism: not only through pornography and all the ways in which we use others and even ourselves to get instant pleasure, but through gorging at restaurants, drinking and partying as intense ways to “have fun”, massages and spas, being endlessly entertained by TV and videogames as to never feel alone.

Theology of the Body 39:2 says, upon analyzing Sirach 23:17-22: “Once the inner man has been reduced to silence and passion has, as it were, gained freedom of action, passion manifests itself as an insistent tendency toward satisfying the senses and the body. (…) And here the biblical author rightly observes that the man whose will is occupied in satisfying the senses does not find himself, but on the contrary ‘consumes himself’.”

   Without realizing it, I was also consuming myself in work and pleasure, until my perspective started changing about a year and a half ago. It coincided with finding a “Mormon mommy blog” (nieniedialogues.com) and I was fascinated… apparently filing the ranks of a recent trend in 30-year-old career-powered women. This article I read is about this curious phenomenon of “modern” women (childless, career-oriented) who are completely obsessed with the recent plethora of Mormon women’s blogs. These Mormon women are usually young, stay-at-home moms with several babies and devoted husbands.

   For me the explanation is simple and I learned it from Fr. Brian Bransfield. While the world’s mentality is ACQUIRE PLEASURE QUICKLY, Theology of the Body (read: the core of the Gospel, the Church) proposes that instead the meaning of life is GIVE BEAUTY SLOWLY. Isn’t that great? That’s how we’ll find fulfillment and live as God’s image.

   Even though this is an explicit Catholic teaching, I think Mormon mommy blogs reflect this practically very well. Mormon mommies are completely focused on God and family as #1 priority. Their day-to-day tasks involve giving beauty slowly to their families and friends. They have date nights, get dressed up and gush over their husbands on their blogs (What man would love all that positive affirmation?). NieNie says of her blog, “my blog is a shrine to my husband”. They make homemade Halloween costumes for their kids, bake yummy treats, host “whimsical” weekend dinners with friends to welcome spring or autumn, go on family bike rides, have unique family traditions such as back-to-school feasts. They value local produce and homemade meals, wear vintage and decorate their homes with handmade projects. Their blogs are beautiful and it’s done wonders for their church.  Reaching the epitome of this counter-acquire-pleasure-quickly-culture, an interview with NieNie explains, “While so many mothers seem to be looking for quick meal ideas, seeking the fastest way to get dinner on and off of the table, NieNie looks at suppertime as an opportunity to slow down, teach her children, and relish the day together over a hot meal.”

   Since my perspective on life changed, I’ve been delving deeper into Theology of the Body and my Catholic faith, trying to center my life’s activities on GIVING BEAUTY SLOWLY and trying to reflect that on my blog. Even though I’m a single Catholic and not a Mormon mommy, I’m convinced it’s possible at any stage in life. Wouldn’t it be great if “Catholic mommy/daddy/sister/brother” blogs started taking over the internet soon?

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About the Author:

Julie Machado is a 30-year-old wife, mother and Portuguese-American who grew up in California, but moved to Portugal for college and has been there ever since. She has a degree in Theology from the Catholic University of Lisbon and has special interest in Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. She blogs at Marta, Julie e Maria.

  • Completely agree. I have a few Mormon friends from high school who have (or whose wives have) started these types of blogs, and talked a little bit about it here. Although they rarely blog explicitly about their faith, it’s an awesome testimony to it for the world.

    I think it would be interesting to see the ratio of apologetics blogs to family life blogs for both Mormons and Catholics. Now, I’m obviously very biased by the circles I run in, and the internet is a big place, but it seems like we have an abundance of apologetics blogs compared to Mormons. Don’t get me wrong, I personally favor apologetics blogs. But, it seems like that’s more for Catholics and some Protestants to hash out debates and grow in faith. Rather, I think more of these family life blogs would meet the rest of the world where they are and show them the simple beauty of Catholicism practically lived out.

  • Julie Rodrigues

    Yes I totally agree!
    That’s an interesting point about the ratio of Catholic apologetics blogs to family life blogs…! I wonder if it’s because of the beauty of the Truth of Catholic teachings. Maybe many convert because of that.

  • Sarah Babbs

    There are lots of Catholic mommy blogs! Now, I have no idea how many Mormon mommy blogs there are, but there are so many Catholic ones. The blogroll Catholic Mothers Online is a great place to start. I’m not sure why career women aren’t focused on the Catholic mommy blogs? Maybe there aren’t as many as it seems like there are to me?

    I love this title though, give beauty slowly. I need to remember that when all it seems I’ve accomplished in a day is rocking and changing a baby. 🙂

  • A nicely done article, Julie. Having worked in Catholic media for more than 15 years, I’m familiar with the work of quite a few Catholic Mommy bloggers who are doing excellent work. I think one of the blogs’ benefits is that they show Christians are normal people who deal with normal issues. The media often portray Christians as weirdos, but the Mommy blogs – be they by Catholics or Mormons – blow that myth to smithereens by showing how relatable people who practice their faith actually are. Kudos for drawing attention to them and their message.

    I also applaud you for writing about Mormons respectfully. Some Catholic blogs can go into attack mode when the Mormon religion is brought up to the point where the rhetoric crosses the line. While our theology differs, the few Mormons I know are genuinely kind and decent people who don’t deserve to have their religion attacked. Yes, theological debate is important, but it should follow a model of charity. I’m on board with the writer Madeline L’Engle who once said, “We do not draw people to Christ by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.” Your article is showing that light so I applaud you for it.

  • Julie, this is great. Sounds to me like you have a pretty good head on your shoulders as a young lady in the world. If only we could realize and take advantage of the fact that the most intense and lasting pleasures are within the bounds of God’s arrangement for our happiness, and not in anxious and hurried seeking for self-pleasing. I’m an enormous fan of the Theology of the Body and think it’s one of the greatest developments in Catholic theology of the modern age. “Give beauty slowly…” I love it!

    And you’ve done an awesome job of being open to and highlighting the good in a non-Catholic setting like those “Mormon mommy blogs” and giving credit where credit’s due, in that they’ve seen something true and beautiful and have gone a long way in putting it into practice.

    Here’s wishin’ you the best. Peace!