My Favorite Marcion

April 2015

We’ve all said (and probably done) things we later regretted. Perhaps our outburst came in a moment of anger or frustration, or as the result of some highly stressful episode. And maybe, after time passed and things cooled down, we tried to justify or excuse our outburst, if only to ourselves. While it is likely that many of us later forgot the whole thing — we “moved on,” in modern parlance — those among us more advanced in spiritual matters were more apt to apologize to those who bore the brunt of our hostility, and bring our transgression before a confessor.

Then again, most of us don’t have the grandiose title of “Shepherd of NCR’s Soul Seeing column.” Only Michael Leach does. Evidently, that designation gives him the authority to say things the rest of us mortals shouldn’t say, and to brag about it in print. Perhaps his authority is founded on his ability to “shepherd” a newspaper column. We confess that we can’t imagine how one does such a thing, or even what it means.

When he’s not out shepherding for the National Catholic Reporter, Mr. Leach has a day job as editor-at-large of Orbis Books, a Catholic publisher. He also has a wife with Alzheimer’s. Anyone who has cared for a loved one stricken with dementia (as we have), will know that it’s a messy, perplexing, and often demoralizing ordeal — for the stricken and the caregiver alike. As Leach writes (May 23-June 5, 2014), at times we can feel pushed “to the brink.” Leach describes such an episode involving his wife’s — ahem — fecal matter, “here, there, and everywhere,” and his efforts to manage the crisis. “I didn’t like cleaning it up, and when Vickie expressed her frustration by again resisting my help, I blurted out, ‘What’s the matter with you? I’m trying to help you!’ And when the poop on her bare feet spread into other rooms like vandals, I yelled, ‘You’re killing me!’”

Luckily, Leach quickly came to his senses. He apologized to his beloved wife, hugged her, showered her (and himself), put her in her “friendliest pajamas,” and sat her down in a recliner in front of the TV.


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New Oxford Notes: April 2015

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