I envy all the people who can leave anonymous comments on blogs, whereas I can't blog anonymously. I say this because today I just have to be me and speak my mind, and what I have to say isn't gonna make everyone happy.
A cursory glance of my still very tiny blog role brought me to Erin Manning's blog, with news that Jennifer Fulwiler of Conversion Diary is now wearing a chapel veil to mass. UPDATE: Erin wrote a SECOND post about the veiling thing!
So loud you can hear it while reading this.
Chapel veil wars on the Catholic internet are as frequent and almost as hotly debated as the pants/skirts wars. If you've spent any amount of time reading Catholic blogs you already know this, and you already know that it's best to stand back, not participate, and instead enjoy the car wreck.
Supreme laziness: I agree with every single thing Erin Manning has said in her post about chapel veils. So go over there and read what she has to say. But in case you're too lazy yourself, here's my summary: If you want to wear a chapel veil, great, go for it, enjoy yourself. Wearing a chapel veil is part of Catholic tradition that is well-known, and Catholicism is thankfully wide and broad enough to incorporate all kinds of things. There's a lady at my church who always wears a chapel veil and I'm totally fine with it; she's a nice lady and a serious Catholic. My good friend wears a chapel veil whenever she goes to the Latin mass, which is often enough, and I don't have an issue with it.
If you feel God has called you to to wear a chapel veil, I'm fine with that too, and I'll honor your belief. However, I will question why God hasn't instead called you to take the $18 you spent on that chapel veil and instead contribute it to your local crisis pregnancy center or something similar. But I know, how God calls one and not another is none of my business.
With all of that being said, I'd like to add that Jennifer Fulwiler is a great person with a blog that I routinely read and have at times benefited from. I take her to be a sincere person who seems very nice. I really do mean that and would appreciate it if people wouldn't question me on that. So if Jennifer wants to experiment with wearing chapel veils and/or permanently incorporate them as part of her Catholic life, I accept that. I didn't read her blog post explaining it all and don't feel I need to - her reasons and feelings about the subject are hers alone.
So why the big groan from me?
Because legions of Catholic women lap up everything she says, and many many times, they do it in a very unthinking manner.
Remember in my recent post about "Cutsey Catolicism," I observed this about certain kinds of Catholic women:
"Those who followed my first blog know that I was highly critical of the
now defunct "Faith & Family Live" blog for exactly the sort of
spirit and experience that I'm questioning here. I'm serious, if I had
mentioned in a commbox over there that I was making and marketing a
Catholic laundry detergent - basically Tide in a bottle but with a label
that said something like "St. Ann's Suds" - they would have fallen all
over themselves to buy it and promote it and talk about how wonderful
it was that they could now buy laundry detergent from a good Catholic."
I believe the exact same thing about Jennifer Fulwiler going public about wearing a chapel veil - Catholic women falling over themselves to mimic and copy her, and now a great big fad for wearing chapel veils erupts (as if there wasn't already a sort-of fad going because of the supposed resurgence of the Latin mass). As I commented over on Erin's blog, "Score one for Father Z!" Come to think of it, maybe Father Z put her up to this! Ha!
Here I go again with my broad brush: There's just a certain kind of crowd that follows Jennifer Fulwiler (and I've noted many, many times that it includes a boat-load of Protestants, which I still don't understand.) There's a certain kind of crowd that follows me. There's a certain kind of Catholic that follows whoever's behind Whispers in the Loggia. While we all intersect on the "Catholic" part, there ARE differences. Some people read The New Yorker, some people read People Magazine.
The crowd that follows Jennifer Fulwiler is the kind of crowd that looks to her as an example, a guide or mentor of sorts. I mean, look at the names of the people/blogs who post their links after her weekly "7 Quick Takes" meme and one can quickly surmise her target audience. And she DOES has a target audience - otherwise she wouldn't be doing an online TV reality show and have a soon-to-be published book. In fact, I would go so far as to say Jennifer Fulwiler has literally become a Catholic PRODUCT that we now consume like any other media product we consume.
I have, myself, been through the phase where I took my cues from the Catholic internet as to what did or did not construe an acceptable Catholic life, practice, and existence. I learned the hard way, even if I was suspicious and questioning all along. Let's just say other people are much more trusting than I was, and those people are trusting Jennifer to lead them through the wilderness of how to make sense of modern conservative Catholicism.
I'm just not so sure that wearing a chapel veil is a necessary aspect of modern-day conservative Catholicism. In fact, somewhere a rad-trad is laughing about her doing this, claiming her wearing a chapel veil is like a pig with lipstick in a pew at a Latin mass. There's a point where maybe us neo-cons need to just owe up to being neo-cons (a term I despise), since it's pretty neo-con-ish for someone who gives radio interviews to EWTN and Relevant Radio to be wearing a chapel veil. I say this as someone who has no problem with EWTN and Relevant Radio, which is why the extremists call me a neo-con, instead of someone who goes to mass at an FSSP parish.
But hey, if that's what these women want, have at it. As long as they operate in Christian love and charity, and they're towing the Catholic party line, I'm not supposed to care. Right?
Right. As far as I'm concerned, Jennifer Fulwiler's Catholic testimony is fine and well without an extra scrap of lace.