It’s July! Get this month’s booklet of prayers and devotions here as a print-at-home pdf or here as a paperback booklet. The July installment of the Catholic All Year Liturgical Living Show is ready to go, I just need to get it captioned and write a post for it, so it should be up in the next day or two. But first, I figured we should talk about my last post . . .
In an interesting confluence of events, the day I was writing up my post about the similarities and differences of the TV shows Good Omens and Lucifer, I got a message from a priest friend who is a pastor and does campus ministry. He wanted to know if I, as a woman with whom other Catholic women compare themselves and sometimes feel themselves lacking and become frustrated or angry, had any advice for young women he counsels who appear to have it all together, but can feel alienated because of it. He pointed out that it probably wasn’t something I or anyone else could blog about because I couldn’t help but come off poorly in the attempt, but here goes anyway. 🤷♀️😆
I told him that my habit of putting my “best foot forward” as it were in public (both online and IRL) is a combination of personal preference and natural introversion. I prefer seeing the good and beautiful parts of life, and while I really do appreciate the realness of some of the more hot-mess-flavor social media Catholic moms, they stress me out a bit. I honestly want to stop what I’m doing and drive to their houses and try to fix their chaos. But they wouldn’t like that. And, of course, I have my own life to manage!
But also, online and IRL, the best foot forward approach can be a way for me to keep people at a distance, and avoid being open and vulnerable.
So my advice to him for women who feel intimidated by particular social media accounts or IRL friends who seem to have it all together was to understand that those women certainly have their own personal and family struggles and their own hardships and faults and shortcomings, they just don’t necessarily choose to share them widely. And if knowing that isn’t enough to set their minds at ease, I’d encourage them to NOT FOLLOW social media accounts that stress them out. Take a break for a while, or forever. If something on social media isn’t a net positive in your life, it shouldn’t be there.
And my advice for women who are the ones who seem put together was to get to know their temperament and how that can affect their relationships, so they can work to counter some of their natural tendencies and be more open and vulnerable which will make others feel less intimidated and more comfortable around them.
I do realize that some people online might perceive me as some sort of perfect Catholic mom who never yells or neglects the Rosary or gets dinner on the table very late or wastes time on nonsense. (None of that is true, by the way!) But I really wasn’t consciously thinking about it as I went back to writing my review of silly TV shows post, and it’s not a persona I’m actively trying to cultivate. We had discussed the merits and shortcomings of these two TV shows at our Catholic homeschool group parkday without incident, and while I knew that neither show would be for everyone, and I tried to be forthcoming about the reasons some folks might want to avoid either or both, I wasn’t prepared for the level of disappointment in me for having watched Lucifer, in particular, that followed my post.
Some folks had seen it also and agreed with my point that even though it appeared worse on its exterior, Lucifer actually had at its heart overall True and Christian messages, whereas Good Omens seemed more innocent but was overall more problematic.
But quite a few (pretty charitably, it should be noted) accused me of creating scandal and leading others into sin by recommending a show that mischaracterizes the devil as charming and penitent and, while it doesn’t have swearing or nudity or simulated sex, does talk a LOT about deviant sexual activity.
So, what IS scandal?
Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor’s tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense.
Scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized. It prompted our Lord to utter this curse: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others. Jesus reproaches the scribes and Pharisees on this account: he likens them to wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Catechism of the Catholic Church 2284-2286
Scandal can be provoked by laws or institutions, by fashion or opinion.
So I find myself in the difficult position of for sure not wanting to tie any millstones around my neck or lead others into sin, but also wanting to be “real” and share with you guys actual things I’m watching on TV, and have found to have some value, even if they also have some moral problems. I’ve never felt called to shun secular entertainment completely. I have always felt drawn to the idea of finding and celebrating the good in our culture, even our pop culture, even though there is so much bad. I think it’s a good way to relate to others who are also somewhere along this journey.
I hold the position that while perfect things are best, better things are preferable to worse things, and can be a nudge in the right direction for people who need it. But that’s a controversial opinion to have, publicly, (just ask Pope Benedict) and it’s tricky to get it right. In the comments on that post and on Facebook, I explain why the show was inside my comfort zone, but comfort zones are different for different people, and mine has definitely changed over the years.
I have personally felt scandalized when I chose movies to watch with my husband on the recommendation of Catholic bloggers, that then turned out to have sex scenes I found too graphic and messages I didn’t agree with. There are recommendations back in the archives of my blog for at least one show that I watched and enjoyed many years ago, but would definitely not watch or recommend now (I should probably go back and put disclaimers on those posts). I have heard from some Catholics that shows like Game of Thrones and Outlander are awesome, and from others that they are pornographic and overly violent. Those I have skipped. (*Also Scandal, by the way. Haven’t seen it. Doesn’t SEEM like it has a great message.)
So, all that to say, I don’t feel like I have the exact right answer here. I’m not sure there is one. If you’ve been scandalized by a recommendation of mine, I apologize. I never set out to style myself as the perfect Catholic mom or the arbiter of Catholic entertainment, but I AM trying to get myself to heaven and I’d love to bring as many of you with me as I can. As someone who is a devout Catholic, and publicly so, I know I have a responsibility to comport myself in a manner befitting that station. To that end, I really do think about how I spend my time and what is appropriate for me to read/watch/listen to. I hope that everyone will use her own discretion when choosing entertainment, and it will always be my goal to be forthcoming about the positive and negative aspects of anything I recommend. But please, keep me (and the entertainment industry) in your prayers!
I have avoided the shows mentioned, but didn’t feel scandalized that you had thoughts on them. I actually think showing the devil (on Lucifer ) as charming may be a good thing? The devils job is to tempt us and possibly even seem penitent? I mean it’s his job to trick us, to try to lead us into temptation. I can see how someone who is just finding their way to the Church or just trying to find a path could be scandalized by the idea.
The devil is evil, as bad as can be but assuming that we would recognize such evil is exactly how the devil lurks among us, because he is a master of temptation and he’s not going to tempt anyone by showing his true nature and kicking puppies in front of us. ♀️
far less scandalized by your reviews than the friends and internet peeps I frequently encounter raving about GOT and Outlander, which are porn in every sense of the word. FWIW I thought you did a good job walking the line between cautioning and endorsing, and gave a good example of an adult using their reason and discretion to judge the character of a thing.
I have to admit I was half hoping a bunch of people would be in the comments saying, “I don’t know where you heard that, but Outlander is just chaste romance and Scottish accents.” Because it’s on Netflix now! I’ll just get one of those little post its to cover it up on the menu screen. 😛
FWIW, the sexual content in Outlander decreases each season, which is good. But the show in general (unrelated to the sexual content) is getting worse each season, too. They are doing one book per season and decreasing the number of episodes, though the books kept getting longer and longer. So there is more to cram in, and the storylines are getting a little rushed. I recommend the books. You can skip past the sex scenes, but there really is a lot in there about making a marriage work over a lifetime, as well as time travel and historical adventures (they aren’t strictly “romance” novels). The author and the main characters are Catholic, and there is a scene involving Eucharistic adoration in the first book that is really excellent.
What I marvel at the most is that you have time for adult TV in the first place! Do you watch after the kids are in bed?
Yes. It’s always taken me some time to wind down before I can go to sleep. And if I just lay there, I’ll think about things I could be doing and be tempted to get back up, so even as a kid, I always had to read or listen to something so I could get past the thinking and get sleepy! Now I either listen to an audiobook or watch something on the iPad. ♀️
I havent watched an episode of any of the shows you have mentioned, though I myself personally prefer true crime and documentaries. I do think that there are Catholics who could be lead astray by secular shows, or at least influenced by them, and also influenced by you in your blogging. However we are all ultimately responsible for ourselves. I have watched things like Big Bang theory, which is a super left wing show, but I am solid enough in my faith to give an eye roll when that stuff is mentioned. As for the vulnerability, I totally get you. I prefer a glass half full approach to life and most things. I think some positivity in life is called for. I dont have any social media for that same reason, I dont need the negativity! You are doing a great job blogging and you cannot be accountable for what your followers do so no need to even say anything. 🙂
I discovered “Outlander” on Netflix while in the throes of first-trimester HG and watched several episodes with great interest, and then had to stop because wow, it was really getting pornographic. It was actually really hard for me to stop watching because I thought the show and the storyline and the portrayal of the culture (the culture is magnificently portrayed, and generally accurate, as far as I know as a historian) were so substantive and fascinating. I consoled myself that I could read the spoilers for the rest of the show on Wikipedia after stopping watching, and reading those definitely made it seem like the show got pretty ridiculous after the first couple of seasons, just silly and overwrought. But the portrayal of Scottish clan culture and the Jacobites in that first season — wow! If only there weren’t whole episodes full of nothing but graphic, sometimes disordered sex! Such a disappointment.
Ugh! So disappointing!
I admire your strength of character.
Your post about the two tv shows actually reminded me a lot of some of the movie reviews that Bishop Robert Barron has created through Word on Fire ministries. The reviews that I’ve read of his have tended to be for movies that I wouldn’t generally expect a priest to find value in but Barron highlights a lot of interesting points about the truths in the movie as well as its shortcomings in the eyes of the Catholic Church. The reviews often help me be better informed about what I would encounter should I choose to watch those movies—and may help me catch things I wouldn’t otherwise have noticed! I felt that your review/comparison did a similar service—gave me a heads up on the good and bad qualities of both shows. I probably won’t watch either of them as their topics are not all that compelling to me but I like to know about them anyhow.
I would count myself in the number of people who can be intimidated by your online presence at times. All the feasts, fasts, and extra celebrations you pull off with all the kids are impressive. I mean Ember days even! I am just now regularly remembering to abstain on Fridays. However, one day I reread your post on what is actually required to be Catholic and it was a great comfort to me. I earnestly desire to follow Christ and serve his Church, to follow the Church’s teachings and listen to the Pope. I affirm the creed in its entirety. I don’t remember to celebrate baptism days and occasionally pull off a half-hearted St. Nicholas day for my kids. But we are at Mass every Sunday and I use the gifts and unique abilities God has given me to actively share the faith with them. We talk about their baptisms regularly. We pray. We read the Bible. We learn together. I also took the healthy step of unfollowing most of the popular Catholic women on the internet. It wasn’t encouraging growth, just shame. You’re one of the few I kept because even though our day to day lives are very different, I enjoy your perspective. I like reading someone who is very well reasoned and desires to live the Truth but also doesn’t completely shun the world. Anyway, this was long-winded but I’ve never once thought you were leading someone to scandal and I enjoy your viewpoints even though I’m really different. Thanks!
Well, thank you, and I’m glad you’re here!
Maybe this needs to be its own post someday, but I just went back and looked on Amazon and it was in January of 2008 that I bought “The Year and Our Children” by Mary Reed Newland because I was interested in the idea of liturgical living in the home. I was so overwhelmed after reading it that it was probably two YEARS before I actually attempted to implement any of it in our home, and the whole reason I ended up coming up with my own things to do (and so starting this blog) was because I just didn’t have the skillset to accomplish pretty much any of her recommendations!
So anyone who has read my book and attempted ANYTHING from it is officially ahead of me!
I tailored what we do in our house to what I’m capable of doing and willing to do over again next year. I’ve gotten MORE capable over the years, and have actually found myself able to manage some of the retro stuff she suggests. But I really think playing to mom’s strengths is the only way to make liturgical living sustainable, especially in a big family.
And as far as Ember Days, it took two years of knowing about them before I managed to implement ANY of them, and it wasn’t until this year that I finally managed to remember all three in one week!
Lol I bought “All Year round with the Von Trapp Family” and now feel like I need to up our music during feasts and solemnities. 😉 overwhelming as I cant play an instrument haha.
I felt the same way! It’s all hiking and music and so beautiful. The hiking we can do, the music, not so much!
I think you covered the negatives thoroughly, but I appreciate your willingness to examine your words
Hi Kendra, thanks for your post! I agree with so much of what you wrote. I was also really interested in a Catholic Perspective on Things Secular so I tried “Good Omens” (even though it wasn’t recommended) and was just a little creeped out by the bad guys’ eyes. But that’s fine because I’m “too young” for visually scary things like that (I’m 44). It was just so great to have your perspective on that kind of fun stuff and to be honest, I thought it was really cool that you watched them and gave a cautionary rating for those sensitive to certain things.
Also, I love to unfollow stuff that stresses me out. I just don’t have the time or the desire to feel like I’m not measuring up. And I love lots of different Catholic Bloggers. I think my favorites are the ones that are more “Here’s how you can help yourself” type of blogs, like yours. It’s possible that I’m the extroverted version of you, because I love sharing the real stuff but only because I have a remedy for how I got out of that jam () and I want you to have the wisdom that I now have and you can avoid some of what I did back then – so I can come across as “I have it all together-y” to many people.
I really DO try to have it all together as much as possible because order just calms me down. Plain and simple. Makes me a better wife, mom, friend, teacher, colleague, etc. Chaos just ruins my day and I’m fairly useless. So when I get someone to give me a tip (like your blog post on getting your kids to eat meals), I’m all over it!
Thank you for sharing what helps us get to heaven. The calm & order that your blog, books & posts bring to my life as been unmatched. I now abstain from meat on Fridays, I observe the Embers Days, I took Lent way more seriously this year, I’ve added some great morning and evening prayers to my day, I don’t stress out when my son doesn’t eat “enough,” and I’m interested in obtaining Indulgences so now I go to confession once a month. I maybe went once a year in the past.
I could go on, but I’m sure you see that your influence has loomed large in my life. So I say a huge THANK YOU! Because I love the Catholic faith and I love it even more as I plumb the inexhaustible riches the faith offers.
I have been truly inspired! So please keep on doing what you do!
Thank you for reviewing those shows! I haven watched either one of them because they seemed uncatholic and there’s no way I would know if they are good or bad if good smart catholic women don’t review them. I trust your judgement and am grateful I can make a better informed decision on things I don’t feel qualified to decide but can look to someone I think is. Don’t stop trying to get others to heaven. We live in this real world, thank you for not ignoring it but educating as best as you can. Instead of feeling intimidated I just ask myself what can I add today that you recommend in your book, I can’t add it all, or all right now. But if I can add one thing, that’s better than nothing. I will never be able to do all the things, but I can learn about these things. Then do what I can. It’s a journey, not a “well I failed today might as well give up tomorrow” It’s hard to put yourself out there, and yes I do compare myself to others I see – catholic and secular (like kid activities) but it can help be decide to be better, but if there is nothing better out there then I stay stagnant. Keep putting better into the world, there’s enough worse out there! It takes a strong person to take all the criticism online but still produce content so thank you!
Excellent and truthful words.
Long time reader of your blog, and I appreciate how gracefully you navigate these sticky situations of being a “public Catholic.” If it were me, I think I would lose my patience and cool far more quickly!
It’s amazing how putting small decisions under a microscope can blow things out of proportion so quickly. If you had recommended a show to me IRL with the caveat that it might not be for me for XYZ moral reasons but you could still see why it had some redeeming qualities, that would be the end of it. But since it’s online it so quickly escalates into the idea of “giving scandal.”
To be truthful, I think part of it, even in the Catholic realm, is that so many of us have adopted the new “attitude of outrage,” when instead, we, especially as Catholics should ALWAYS be looking for the good, true, and beautiful, wherever we can find it. That’s one of the things I appreciate about your blog. You’re not scared to look and find those things in the secular culture. And I say “Thank God for that!” Obviously, there are limits on it (no one should be looking for the good in the pages of Playboy), but there really is a wide middle where we are free to use our own well-formed consciences and reason and need not be our sister’s judge even while still endeavoring to be her keeper. The adage of “unity in what’s necessary and charity in everything else” can be so helpful in these discussions!
Lastly, please keep up your good work. You and your family are in my prayers, and your husband has been my frequent Mass intention at daily Mass.
Kendra, I really enjoy following you and going back to your old posts for tips on parenting and homemaking because as a newish mom (oldest is 5) I didn’t realize how much education you need to parent and run a household!
It has also always been clear from many of your posts that you got to where you are over time and I never had the impression you started out doing all the things! But, your online presence is a great example of how grace builds upon grace and that is something worth persevering for!
Your love of God and the Church is always an inspiration and I love all the fun ways you incorporate our Catholic faith in the everyday.
Please, keep doing what you’re doing!
From one maximizer to another, keep fighting the good fight! We are all called to run the same race but with different gifts and charisms. How blessed we are to have a variety of social media voices, finding the one that speaks our language. God is good!
They had dirty magazines in candy stores? Seems like a bizarre mix… but I digress. I think we do ourselves a disservice by treating each other as helpless children. Are we really so fragile and inept that we can’t discuss the merits (or lack there of) of something as inane and superfluous as a network TV show? Are we really so lacking in judgement that we can’t see the difference between someone truly and actively leading one into sin and someone trying to have a conversation about the merits of things.
I think we also need to be careful about confusing being prim and proper with true holiness and righteousness. There are Catholics for whom butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths who regularly look away when they pass homeless people on the street. I can’t remember if it was Augustine or Aquinas, but one of them said something to the effect of— There are people the Church has that God doesn’t have and vice versa.
I know! Crazy. Anytime anyone wants to talk about the “good old days” I’ll just show them this cartoon. Times change, but they all have their own share of badness!
To be honest, Kendra, I tend to be on the scrupulous side of things when it comes to TV shows. (I have seen a spiritual director about this and am working on it). But it does bring me great relief when Catholic bloggers I really admire suggest TV shows, even though they may have problems. I really appreciate your take on these things. I started watching Lucifer based on your recommendation and I’m really enjoying it. I definitely think you have to examine your own sinful tendencies before watching TV shows, especially those who are prone to lustful thoughts and actions. Lust is not one of the sins that I struggle with so this show has not bothered me (even though there are still some parts I fast forward or don’t watch, because I just don’t want to see that). I’m also pretty well versed in theology so I understand that a lot of the comments they make about angels being able to change and things like that are untrue, and it doesn’t bother me.
On the other hand, I told me husband about the show. I felt it was a real shame that they did overplay the sexuality in it because if it weren’t for that, it could have been a show we would have really enjoyed together. But since he is a man who is a recovered (praise God) porn addict, we have to be very careful about what he watches. So he doesn’t watch it.
I DO struggle with the sin of (unjust) anger and gossip, so I have to avoid shows that emphasize those things, such as Real Housewives and things like that.
Thanks for your input on these shows and others like them. They aren’t for everyone but it’s nice to hear your take on them!
Yes. I think you make a really important point that near occasions of sin are different for different people! It’s really good to be self-aware and avoid things based on that.
Well, I am not a Catholic mom and I watch very little television, especially the newer shows. I do not find much of it entertaining. That said, I enjoy your books, pamphlets, and comments (Kendra) and your view if it offends don’t look or turn it off. Seems simple. Enjoy Catholic All Year and the publications – keep going from a non-mom
I’ve appreciated your TV and movie reviews. Like anyone, I wouldn’t come to the same conclusions as you all the time, but I like your emphasis, because it’s different than what I get from many other Christian media-reviews.
I’ll hear a lot about how much sex, swearing, violence, and drugs are in something, but fewer people are saying, “Hey, that show really normalized teenage rebellion,” or, “In this movie all the bad stuff is done by the supposedly good guy,” or “That show undermines and cheapens the virtue of charity.” It’s good to hear about the differences between Tangled and Frozen, or Cinderella and Maleficent.
I certainly like to have a heads-up to avoid the obviously immoral or inappropriate content in shows, and I’m not interested in absorbing a bunch of that or showing it to my kids; I just tend to get that info elsewhere. Here, I get worked-out examples of how to think through the assumptions and worldview underlying media, and that’s been really helpful as I evaluate things for our family. It’s good for me to realize that, for example, my kids have better immunity, so to speak, against overt portrayal of drug use, than they do to subtly distorted portrayals of death or relationships. And I want to take that into account.
So thanks for that!
And thanks for the comments on how putting your best foot forward can be protective sometimes. That’s helpful for understanding myself and others.
It made my day to read this comment! This is exactly my hope for my reviews, and the thing I really care about that I don’t see other places. I’m so so glad you get it! 🙂 🙂
Kendra, how do you figure out which shows are worth watching? Do you rely on word-of-mouth to tell if something is just too objectionable (i’m thinking of people’s comments on this post about Outlander)? I am so appreciative when Catholics write reviews so that I can find out what is worth seeing—but then I almost feel guilty that the reviewer might have to slog through some bad stuff in the process of figuring out which shows to recommend. As a side note, it seems that almost all of the new Netflix original dramas are rated TV-MA, which is disheartening to me. I usually avoid any show with this rating, so I guess i’m nissing out on pretty much everything! (Stranger Things is a popular exception, but still a pretty dark show).
I always appreciate your perspective and I have truly enjoyed your blog (and your most recent book!).
Yes, it’s definitely tough to find things! I rely on word of mouth, and scrolling through Netflix looking for TV 14 shows. That’s actually how I ended up watching Lucifer, just because of its rating! I mostly avoid TV MA shows, but the ratings really aren’t trustworthy. There are TV 14 shows with a lot of simulated sex, even if not actual nudity, and I’m not really comfortable with that. I’ll watch the trailers to get a sense of what they’re highlighting in the show. There’s a new Netflix show called High Seas and it’s rated MA, but I gave it a try and it didn’t have any nudity or language or graphic sex scenes. I guess the rating is for a rape that takes place off camera. But it was also just okay as a show, and there really wasn’t a discernible message, so it didn’t seem worth recommending. The Queen of Flow and Imposters are both rated TV 14 and were pretty compelling, plot-wise, but also very racy and didn’t have a good message. I’m willing to quit watching shows that take a turn I’m not comfortable with, but it’s definitely not an exact science!
We surely don’t have to live under a rock to be good Catholics. I always appreciate your well written and charitable responses when there is “scandal”. You consistently come off as very authentic and prudent, so keep on keepin’ on’!
My husband was the first one to watch Lucifer and it caught my eye due to a past experience. I went on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje with my sister as teenagers years ago now. I will always remember being approached by a very attractive young man as we were sitting on a bench in public late at night. He asked us if we would like to go to a party with him. He was captivating, yet, something was not right with his eyes. The second we said “no” – he vanished. I always say we saw the eyes of the devil. I will also believe the devil will work extra hard in holy places.
Kendra, I just love you! As a Protestant, homeschooling mama in Canada, I always enjoy your pop culture commentaries! Keep up the good work, no need to apologize!
Kendra, I’ve been reading your blog for years and I have always thought that you were very gracious, interested in discussion, and willing to listen to criticism. Your blog is not heavy-handed, nor even didactic. I think you’re a good egg!
I really enjoyed reading the last reviews. I hadn’t watched either show or even heard of the one on Amazon, but I still thought it was a useful analysis. I actually love how much true Catholicism finds its way into our culture. God is working in all of us.
Honestly, the “scandal” people cause me to roll my eyes. Yes, we should be careful not to trip people up but we also need to have some fortitude not to fall on our fainting couch every time someone mentions parts of secular culture. We need to be stronger than that, if you aren’t perhaps the net is not the best place for you. It seems like it is the faithful’s version of the unbeliever’s “convert me” challenge. They want us to stand there and meet argument after argument instread of going to find the answers themselves. For the faithful, we can’t sterilize everyone’s path. And 90% of adults are completely capable of reading a review and saying….hmmmm, that might not be best for me.
A couple of comments . . .
If people are scandalized by your comments, it is their problem. You are not the Pope and do not speak for the Church. You speak for yourself and what you do in your family. Good grief! You do not charge people to read your blog. Those who feel scandalized have, of their own accord, raised you to a position of authority you do not hold. It is their problem.
Secondly, TV is not a requirement for family life. I agree with John Senior, author of Restoring Christian Culture, that it is best to take a shotgun to the TV, then one doesn’t have to even worry about good vs. bad shows (though I do wonder if there is anything truly good on TV anymore). We got rid of TV four years ago. Life is good. 🙂