The Nearly Paranoid Concerns and Worries of a Roman Catholic

“What the mind doesn't understand, it worships or fears.” ― Alice Walker

Catholicism is pagan in its roots. Most Western religions are pagan in its roots. If the story of a charismatic teacher bathing in rivers, being born of virgins, saying a bunch of cool things and then dying (sometimes coming back) but for sure dying and then saying more cool things from that either post-death life or from the clouds it’s because it’s a story that has been told for literally thousands of years.It is Osiris, Shiva and many many more deities (Religulous had a pretty comprehensive list and that’s just a great movie so for reals watch it.). The fear and aversion of snakes: pagan. The allocation of owls as evil: pagan. Sun worship and aligning positive figures with the Sun: pagan.

So here’s a good place to define the word “pagan” because I’ve used it a lot and many people probably have different ideas of what pagan means. Let’s go over what I don’t mean. I don’t mean Satanism in its current form. I don’t mean other dark arts or dark forces. What I mean by Pagan is exactly what the word means: the religion of the people of the hills. This does include Witchcraft both New Age and Ancient. It does include Druidism. It does include the religions of the First Peoples to this great continent. It includes many of the folk religious heroes and figures that are often spoken of but now only as a whisper. That’s what I mean by Pagan and yes: Catholicism is very Pagan. The statues, the stained glass, the smoke, the draperies, the extravagant costuming…yeah, I’m talking about a Catholic mass and not a Samhain gathering. This very pagan looking service is exactly what caused a huge schism in the church. The color and statue symbolism alone could convince you that the average Catholic service is a Celtic romp through Stonehenge (And if you ever want to talk Catholic imagery…oh boy, please feel free to comment.).

I keep bringing that up for a reason: superstition is the antithesis of faith. Now, for those of you that know me I am a somewhat neurotic little thing. I worry about a lot of things. But I also grew up in a very spiritual household. My grandma and parents were staunch believers in ghosts and the paranormal and I’ve admitted plenty of times that I’ve had supernatural and paranormal experiences. Friends of mine have experienced similar paranormal things and many others think it’s senseless nonsense and that I’m crazy to believe in this “Ghosts roamin’ ‘round” junk. But as Catholics and even many evangelical Christians have a very strange view of ritual, religion and superstition.

The biggest example I can think of when it comes to going through the motions for the sake of purity is the intent of the Eucharist. It is said that if you approach the Eucharist during mass with less than pure intentions: like you aren’t caught up on your confessions or reconciliation rites or if you break the fast (yes, your pancakes are not holy enough to sit in your stomach at the same time as The Body of Christ) then you in fact ruin the sacrament for everyone. Think about it. Your salvation and dedication can be rendered entirely useless and ineffective because of someone else. And we as individuals wouldn’t know until Judgement Day comes. So we all do our best. We collectively try our best to be pure to avoid being that ONE person who ruins Heaven for the rest of the congregation by breaking the fast or by thinking about Scandal while in line before taking the bread and wine.

We’ve talked a lot about theology and it’s been really really fun to talk about this stuff in a somewhat safe space. Want to learn a little about things that I am somewhat superstitious about? Let’s find out!

  • I bow to cats.
  • There are places that have a weird energy to me and I now try to avoid those places.
  • Numerology, astrology and symbolism all mean a lot to me: remember, horoscopes used to be a normal part of daily life for quite a long time.
  • I do tend to avoid haunted places. Not because I always assume these places are haunted but just for the risk of pissing off any ghost or demon that could be lurking around.
  • I do not however believe too heavily in possession. Not that I don’t think it exists at all but I don’t think it’s the ultimate cause of all things that are bad or even a few that are good.
  • I do believe in soul mates.
  • I almost want to believe in reincarnation but that’s a pretty iffy issue for Catholics since some saints are said to be “of” someone else but scholars do struggle with reincarnation in its Asian incarnations like in Buddhism and Hinduism.
  • I’m not much one for miracles or signs. I’m a Deist, remember? God is busy.
  • I do though almost superstitiously believe in the power of the Saints.
  • I find prayer meditative and I do have a few personal favorites which are you are welcome to ask me about respectfully.

This is a pretty short list on this and it’s been fun to go over. Let’s chat theology and superstition again really soon!


Thoughts and Musings from a Concert: Fitz and the Tantrums


Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness. Maya AngelouRead more at- tickets. She got me concert tickets. I was so surprised when Amber said “Hey, July 24th…can you just X that day out? It’s for your birthday.” (which is by the way an awful thing to tell someone who is Type A and hates surprises). She told me later on that we’d be seeing Fitz and the Tantrums. I love this band and seriously if this is your first time hearing about them I’ll wait a minute for you to find out what you’ve been missing. I can’t think of the last concert I went to (well, that is if you don’t count the Night Vale show). So I was excited to go to a concert. Here are some of the thoughts I had before, during and after the show.

  • The drive to Austin isn’t very long. I’m always surprised by how long and short the drive is simultaneously.
  • 1776 is way better than Hamilton.
    • Unpopular opinions forever.
  • Always stop at Bucee’s.
    • Like seriously. Just do it. One of the best bathrooms ever.
  • An 8 year old saying the word “noob” like physically hurt me. What corner of reddit did you learn that from, kid?
  • Also, as much as I love Pokemon Go…people, live in real life. It’s a game. Put it down.
    • That being said: Team Mystic forever.
  • Don’t park under the tree that is supported by poles.
  • Midget wrestling is still apparently a thing.
  • If you end up seeing a line 2 hours before the doors open: go ahead and get in that line.
  • Apparently some venues separate lines out male and female because that’s a thing.
  • Grapefruit vodka and Sprite is my new official summer drink.
  • By the time the opener had started I was already in so much pain.
    • I am out of shape, guys. I don’t belong on my feet for hours.
  • It was also hot as hell out there. C’mon. Texas. July. Show just before sunset?
  • Concerts are not short people approved. Seriously, guys.
  • Also, I’m over standing for concerts. I’m old, guys. Chairs are awesome. Chairs.
  • Apparently you can shake a tambourine so hard that you can break it: the opening act did so.
    • She then proceeded to throw the shattered remains of the percussion instrument into the audience which cannot be safe. That has to be a hazard.
  • The lag between opener and the main act was almost insufferable. It was hot. It was humid. I was sweating in places I didn’t think I could sweat in. There were bats.
  • There was an insurmountable amount of bodies. So many people. I was not expecting how many people would turn up.
    • I’m still sorta in the camp that I believe most of the stuff I do/watch/listen to are kinda underground and hipster (also like me feelings during Night Vale) so I was very surprised to see how many people who were there to see a band that I also loved.

I had a rough time at this concert. I felt that my complaining was insufferable. Amber’s so gracious and she always worries about me. Between my flat feet and asthma, really it’s a surprise I function sometimes yet alone am a panelist and cosplayer. I struggled with being on my phone to quell boredom, capture the moment but still somehow in it all be present. Be in attendance. I spent the evening covered in sweat and sore but that all changed as soon as Out of My League started. I put my heart up proudly and I danced like no one was watching. All the pain seemed to go away during that song and then quickly returned after they finished and move on to some of their newer stuff.

I had an amazing time. I danced. I sang. I laughed. I got emotional. I sweat. I whined. I realized that I am an old woman in a somewhat young lady’s body. I rejoiced when we hit traffic and I got to sit down and be off my feet. I had never been happier for a shower. I embraced my hoarse voice. I had an amazing time. I’m so glad I got to go to this show.

Now if you all will excuse me, my feet still hurt and I’d like to continue resting a little.

Amanda.Actually: Panelist Most of the Time

Hello, readers! As many of you know, I’m a panelist, cosplayer and general fangirl. It’s convention season for me and I wanted to ask you: my friends, readers and those that are generally made of awesome a simple question.

AichiYume Needs Your Help (1)


Topics I’ve covered in the past include: Fandoms 101, Character Development, Men’s Roles in Anime and Convention Etiquette. The writing ones are a huge hit and I’m lucky enough to be a seasoned fangirl so I can talk to a few topics.

Here’s a picture of my panel crowd from Character Development at A-Kon 27 ( I apologize for the crappy pic but this wasn’t even all the crowd, the room ended up filling out by the time I was finished with my panel).



And here’s another picture from MizuumiCon to another fairly packed house where I presented my Fandoms 101 panel for the first time!


At this stage of asking about topics there are no wrong answers so don’t hold back. I’m very open to suggestions.

What topics would you love to see in a panel run by the tiny awesome me?

I look forward to your submissions in the comments below or on any of my social media channels that are linked to this humble little blog.

Thanks for reading as always and thank you for continuing to inspire me to be a better writer, panelist and person.

The Heresey of Pope Joan II

Make Me a Channel of Your Peace

We did a very shallow dive together on the intricacies of my personal theology and theology is important to me. There is something that prompts yet another somewhat uncomfortable dive into personal theology: because religion is a very touchy subject here on the Internet.

Normally I maintain the Linus Van Pelt model when it comes to talking about religion: “There are three things you don’t discuss in public: religion, politics, and The Great Pumpkin”.

So what prompts me to bring up an uncomfortable topic yet again? A very dear friend of mine is a very active member of a religion order. He’s a Marianist just like my alma mater (Marianists are a special sect of Catholicism that have a special devotion to the Virgin Mary and you can learn more about them here.) and details are being left out for a very special reason: sometimes he occasionally gets flack for spending time with me.

Here’s why: Marianists are pretty strict. They may be liberal in some of their social policy and community outreach but many of the older brothers are very conservative and a brother spending time with a single laywoman (lay meaning a member of the church who isn’t dedicated to a religious order) alone in her home sounds incredibly scandalous. But at the same time this interaction wouldn’t be allowed if he was a Jesuit, a Franciscan or a Benedictine. And it certainly wouldn’t be allowed if I was a Carmelite (Fun fact: I actually did consider joining a nunnery at a young age and then promptly decided against it because I like food, anime and sunlight.) It sounds scandalous typing it out like this and it’s me who’s writing it.

So what possibly could a young, single laywoman and a young man promised to the purity and loyalty of the cloth and to God the Father? We honestly talk a lot about theology. We talk about the differences in our faith. We talk about the weather. We talk about books we’re reading. We talk about philosophy and the impossible questions. In all honesty, he’s the most holy but attainable person I’ve ever met and I seriously value his friendship. I put emphasis on friendship: I’m a Catholic, I take his vows just as seriously as he does and if anything in a few ways I may take his vows more seriously than he does. And we’re friends. We ran in that weird circle of college kids that were more interested in philosophy and ethics than drinking at frat parties (though my alma mater was far from a party school: says the Japanese Culture Club former president).

But what’s the most amazing is that we differ in our personal theologies. I’m more conservative, being a Deist, and my ideas about miracles and God and logic vary from the average Catholic. His ideas about what it means to be close to God and divinity scare me a little but I greatly respect his opinions. If anything, I treasure the fact that we don’t agree because it leads to deeper discussion. Having a friend so close to the Church radically changed how I viewed the Church and my theology. And it’s all the better that he and I share similar views on science and social issues.  And he in fact embodies to me so many things that I think are lost in the Church: he wears plain clothes, is sworn to “poverty” and lives to serve.

But what I love is that after spending time with someone who is obviously more religious than me it makes me confront my pain points with the church like its refusal to accept LGBTQ members and acknowledge their unions.The indiscretions of terrible terrible priests and their awful acts of abuse are another common topic: it’s almost impossible to be Catholic and not talk about it and if you are Catholic, you should talk about it. It’s a serious epidemic that has gone on in the Church like a cancer for too long. It makes me confront the bad popes and oh boy, the bad popes almost deserve their own blog post.  It makes me confront all of those things that make me a less than ideal Catholic and a less than ideal person and a part of me enjoys that. It is only in admitting that I have failed that I can do more. I can only grow from here. I can only be better from here. I admit that I have sinned and the rest is an active path towards redemption. And this is by far not the first time I have struggled with my Catholic heritage.

Now I’ll wrap up my very uncomfortable discussion of a close friend because it does edge on the line of “If you keep saying you’re just friends, it sounds suspicious.” I struggled with writing this for a long time. It does seem strange to be friends with someone who is also nearly objectively more devote than I am but it is in fact his humanity that makes us such great.

This is normally where I’d say go hug a priest or something but I have a feeling that would make many deacons like super uncomfortable. Oh and if you’re curious about the title of this blog post: feel free to reach out. It’s actually one of my favorite stories in all of Catholic mysticism.

Meditations on Welcome to Night Vale After Seeing it Live

“Exit, pursued by a bear.” ― William Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale

So I was fortunate enough to go to the Welcome to Night Vale tour while it stopped here in San Antonio. I went with my friend Amber and went in costume as Night Vale Community Radio’s favorite host, Cecil. And as many of you know I’m a big fan of the show and have written about it before at least once and probably will again at least a few times. I had an amazing time and I loved the show so here are a few thoughts on fandoms, waiting in line and headcannons. I’ll do my best to keep this spoiler-free because I respect that many may not have been able to see the show yet but one or two may leak out in my excitement for the show and the fandom so blame the zeitgeist, I suppose. So let’s get started, dear listeners.

  • Body paint is almost never worth the trouble. No amount of tutorials will make it worth it. I do not care. No third eyes, no nothing. Concealer is already too much effort for me.
  • Parking downtown is a nightmare. That’s not even hyperbolic. It was a nightmare.
  • Suspenders are not made for people with busts. They are though, cute as hell. I now need more excuses to brave the discomfort and wear suspenders.
  • People drove from several states away to see this show: while walking out from the parking structure Amber and I met a group of women one from Austin, one from San Antonio and one all the way from Oklahoma.
  • Getting compliments on my costumes is always great but it does sometimes make me a little insecure.
  • Though getting a compliment on my “radio voice” and the fact that I have good enunciation is always fantastic.
  • Hearing that people support my unpopular headcannons is always fun.
  • The Aztec is amazing when it comes to lines and despite the long lines we did not wait long.
  • HOWEVER: Aztec, get your seating together.
  • Also, sitting while short is a problem. Luckily, there was a space between tall between and I had the perfect short person’s window.
    • Please feel free to take “Short person’s window” for your own. SHORT PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE. Just smaller people.
  • Night Vale is if anything an amazingly written podcast and I admire Joseph Fink and Jeffery Crannor as writers.
  • Costuming while having no cannonical descriptions are fun.
  • Sentient patches of haze are pretty intense.
  • Night Vale Community Radio interns are in fact delicate and we should all treasure them a little more.
  • I sometimes forget how big the Night Vale fandom is: it’s a podcast. We don’t all hang out. But this show was PACKED.
  • Always stick around for the Horoscopes.
  • Continue your well-suited disappointment in Steve Carlsburg.
  • The weather was good.
    • Fun fact: this is probably one of my favorite fan artifacts. I wonder how that will be read in the distant future. A bunch of cyber archaeologists going on about “Why is everying commenting about the weather!”
    • Though there are not many artists that get to babble at me incoherently for several minutes.
    • ALSO: my clapping is just fine, lady. You don’t know me or my life.
  • Cecil Baldwin’s kinda hot…
    • Okay, he’s very hot. And well-dressed.
  • But seeing Cecil Baldwin BE Cecil Palmer confirms a few things that were a part of my headcannon including that Cecil is very expressive, gestures a lot and does genuinely love his job. He also is very much not aware of how dangerous Night Vale is making him a precious cinnamon roll who needs to be protected.
  • So this isn’t really a spoiler but I need to say it: I was NOT expecting that ending and it ended up making me really emotional but in the best way. In the way that all writing should. When you connect. When you feel. When you become the story and the story becomes you and suddenly then, only then, it isn’t a story: it is your life.

Night Vale is a sleepy town on the edge of the desert but there are thousands, millions of virtual citizens. We are all citizens of this strange little town with mysterious lights, unsupported oak doors and 6-legged cats that hover in the men’s bathroom of the local radio station. Night Vale is a fandom that is close to my heart. I love Cecil, my radio host. I adore his relationships. I fear greatly The Dog Park and want justice for the literal 5-headed dragon in prison. We as a fandom have a community: we have opinions. Some of us love Carlos. Some don’t think Kevin is so bad. Some hate Desert Bluffs, some hate Desert Bluffs more. I couldn’t imagine that Night Vale would end up meaning so much to me. I never liked it when it first came out: I didn’t understand the love of this strange fictional land but now I listen in regularly. I listen to Cecil as if Night Vale is my hometown and the nightly community radio broadcast is my public radio station. Welcome to Night Vale is TPR for nerds like me. Imagine: people sitting in their cars, sitting at home, doing chores all while listening to Welcome to Night Vale. Just as I’m sure the creators intended. This is our radio. This is our show. Night Vale is our hometown: well at least, it is if you can survive the Glow Cloud and avoid the Shape in Mission Grove Park.  So I highly recommend the Night Vale live show. It’s engaging, funny, dark, twisted and thoughtful. So enjoy the show. Listen. Tune in. You won’t regret it. 

And as always: good night, dear readers. Good night.

The Personal Theology of the Awesome Me

“In our country religion is not different from philosophy and religion & philosophy don’t differ from science.”

I was raised Roman Catholic and I tend to say that a lot. I don’t much think of its impact because most of America still believes in some kind of higher power. When I was a kid, being raised Catholic was a bit of a novelty: it was difficult to explain my very pagan-looking religion and the rituals attached to it but it was a quiet religion and I enjoyed Sunday school and going to Mass on Sundays with my grandfather and family. But we’ll jump back to that in a minute: I wanted to talk about personal theology not because I’m a masochist but because I realize that despite me just saying that I’m Catholic there’s plenty I’m leaving out.

Roman Catholicism is a serious, somber and intense religion. It follows ideas that are ancient and in fact it is the seriousness of Catholicism that keeps me attached to it. God is busy. God has a lot to do. God created everything and He doesn’t always have time for my flighty concerns like relationships and how many cupcakes I should eat.

When I was 9 or so my father took me to his more energetic evangelical church and I felt incredibly uncomfortable with this. I felt unsure and afraid of people jumping around and flailing about, speaking in fake languages. I was worried about a God and a Jesus that were in each and every detail of my life: always watching. I didn’t find comfort in the all-seeing, all-following eye of God: it terrified me. They were also anti-science and anti-Pokemon, Harry Potter and other video games: we’re gonna get to that in a minute.

My dad died when I was 12 and I talk about that a lot because it did shape my life. I returned to Catholic school and Catholic worship but my father’s funeral was at his overzealous church. While coping with my father’s death I heard plenty of things that at the time and do still now seem callous and did shape my personal theology.

Your dad’s in a better place.

Was our home not good enough? Why take him?

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

That’s incredibly mean to say to a child. Does punching you make you stronger?

God never gives you more than you can handle.

I’m 12: I can barely handle my classwork and extracurriculars. Boys are also very confusing.

God has a plan for all of us.

And this one apparently means I don’t get to have my dad?

Needless to say, I did what most kids did during that time: I turned away from God. I didn’t like His world of indifference and bad things and I didn’t like that He stood by hanging out in a tree or something just watching me suffer (as I imagined God did at the time: I was an angsty kid, we’ve been over this.) I didn’t find much comfort in anyone’s theology but still went to Mass (mostly because I had to) but it was in 7th grade in my Catholic theology class that I discovered a doctrine I did understand: Deism.

Deism’s main tenant is that God made the universe and world (He’s known as The Great Watchmaker) and set the world in motion and just let it go. He backed away. He’s off now doing other things: probably knitting, maybe? But He doesn’t impact the day to day life of an individual. This kept my free-will issues in check and helped me cope with a world that took a relatively young man from his family. The overactive daily involved God of other religions just seemed like Superman or Batman: a selective force who seemed too active in some people’s lives and not active enough in others.

But Deism didn’t take away my Catholic nature. I am baptized and such in the Roman Catholic Church (working on Confirmation: I have my saint name picked out and you’re welcome to ask me what Saint I wish to take on) and I never really let my religion change how I felt.

Being Catholic doesn’t mean I can’t be a fangirl (clearly). Being Catholic doesn’t mean I have to be Anti-Science: if anything Intelligent Design is one of the most faith-affirming things I’ve found (the Universe is vast, indifferent and we are moments from falling into utter chaos and distress but yet we float on perfectly at least for now). Being Catholic doesn’t mean I have to ignore evolution: Pope John Paul II said that evolution in the Neo-Darwinian sense was fine. Being Catholic doesn’t mean that I have to be content with intolerance or ignorance of other faiths in fact I’m charged and encouraged to learn about other theologies and ways of worship. Being Catholic in general doesn’t mean I have to support senseless hatred or cruelty: if anything to me it’s the most peaceful of religions if applied in certain ways (and this is a very current statement: being Catholic for many years meant LITERALLY taking up a sword and LITERALLY fighting for your beliefs). But it also meant having to unfortunately cherry-pick some of my personal theology: I’m fine with birth control and contraception and my ideas concerning LGBT issues and rights are to say kindly and mildly not conservative, at all.But knowing that I can be liberal with my social policy and still be a backyard astronomer doesn’t mean I am unaware of the trials of what being Catholic meant to those even a few years ago: Lookin’ at you, Giordano Bruno and Galileo.

But my personal beliefs in a God that is somewhat busy and absolutely too busy to be bothered by the concerns of one tiny fangirl is even at odds with my family. My aunts believe in, despite also being Catholic, that very personal God: a God that is always with you. Always hanging out. Always there. Like Odin (we’ll touch on paganism and Catholicism WAY later, trust me.) And there’s nothing wrong with that: it’s just not my personal theology.

So there’s a shallow dive into my personal theology: it may end up answering a few questions you may or may not have about me, your humble author.