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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.