Just in case you aren’t on Facebook, don’t have teenage children, or haven’t been otherwise plugged into the plight of the white middle class, allow me to introduce you to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
ALS is often called Lou Gehrig‘s Disease, but its official name is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and is a progressive neurological disease without a cure. It’s a horrorshow that’s taken many lives, including Barbara Brenner, first executive director of Breast Cancer Action. This current ice bucket challenge was inspired by former baseball player Pete Frates who was diagnosed with ALS at age 27. (<—– bring tissues)
Of course, I have questions. Where does the money go? What programs do ALSA fund? Is this a sustainable campaign? Does is really help contribute to the cure of this disease? What do people intimately affected by this disease think? Does the fun of the ice bucket overwhelm the larger narrative? What are the unintended consequences? For god’s sake, tell me they don’t have a ribbon…
I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I’m a pink ribbon-jaded cynic. I don’t have the time to adequately research and form and opinion, so I decided to live and let live on this.
Then came an unforeseen plot twist.
My local Catholic Archdiocese came out against it, advising faculty who had to sign controversial teaching contracts this school year, not to participate. An email was sent to principals asking them not to encourage students to participate. To clarify, it’s not the dumping of the bucket they object to, it’s the ALSA.
Why? Because some of the research the ALSA funds uses embryonic stem cells, a practice condemned by the Catholic Church.
So began the culture wars on social media.
Look: I wish they hadn’t picked this fight, but it is consistent with their policies. The whole threadbare “one step forward two steps back” criticism is off target. The church is always stepping in the same direction, regardless of whether we agree. On this, embryonic stem cells and ice buckets, I do not agree. I also understand I don’t make the rules, and that the rules haven’t changed in my lifetime.
On the other hand, I wish people who love to hate on the Catholic Church would quit the pile-on and take some time to learn about all the good this huge organization does.
I’m Catholic and my kids attend Catholic schools. I love them. I also love my friends and all their messy opinions. And I love my liberal soul mates fighting for a more just and idealistic world.
I am tired of explaining to Catholic friends why my liberal leanings aren’t the spawn of Satan. I’m also tired of defending the institution that plays an integral role in my family’s life. I live in the gray, knew what I was getting into when I moved my liberal butt to the burbs and joined a conservative Catholic community. Some day I’ll be rejuvenated for the fight. Today, I’m opting out.
If you can’t beat ’em…