Tuesday, February 20, 2007

IC is out sick...so: Caption Contest #13

Hi all...SIC (Spouse of the Ironic Catholic) here. The Ironic Catholic has been steamrolled by the stomach flu, so in addition to making our Fat Tuesday dinner with a screaming, teething toddler slung onto my back and a six-year-old who decided that today would be a good day to experiment with painting his tongue blue...I also get to post to the blog. Actually, I asked to post. Begged, really: "Say, do you want me to put up a post on your blog?" "No, you don't have to." "Wouldn't be any trouble." "Really, that's okay." "Please?" Long pause. "Pretty please? Please please please please please?" (You learn a trick or two taking care of little kids all day.) She finally "consented," although I'm not sure it would really count if we were going by Canon Law.

Really I should do something more appropriate for Ash Wednesday, but since we had our "dying" experience on Tuesday, I decided a little levity was in order. So...you've all seen the "Free Hug" video that's been circulating for the past few months. (If not, see it below...and/or read the little summary that follows.) Here's the contest: What would the free hug campaign look like if this guy were a Catholic taking the new evangelization in a new direction? What would the sign say, and what would happen? Have fun -- and say a prayer for IC's speedy recovery, lest you be subjected to more rambling posts like this one.

The Free Hug campaign in a nutshell: So this guy, Juan Mann, is returning from Australia. Here's what he says on his website, http://www.freehugcampaign.com/:

I'd been living in London when my world turned upside down and I'd had to come home. By the time my plane landed back in Sydney, all I had left was a carry on bag full of clothes and a world of troubles. No one to welcome me back, no place to call home. I was a tourist in my hometown.

Standing there in the arrivals terminal, watching other passengers meeting their waiting friends and family, with open arms and smiling faces, hugging and laughing together, I wanted someone out there to be waiting for me. To be happy to see me. To smile at me. To hug me.

So I got some cardboard and a marker and made a sign. I found the busiest pedestrian intersection in the city and held that sign aloft, with the words "Free Hugs" on both sides.

And for 15 minutes, people just stared right through me. The first person who stopped, tapped me on the shoulder and told me how her dog had just died that morning. How that morning had been the one year anniversary of her only daughter dying in a car accident. How what she needed now, when she felt most alone in the world, was a hug. I got down on one knee, we put our arms around each other and when we parted, she was smiling.

Everyone has problems and for sure mine haven't compared. But to see someone who was once frowning, smile even for a moment, is worth it every time.
He started doing his "Free Hugs" once a week. After two years, one member of a local rock group began videotaping him, eventually compiling a video, setting it to music, and posting it to YouTube, where it became an instant hit. With more than 10 million views, not to mention publicity on Oprah, Good Morning America, Fox News, etc., other people around the world began to get into the act. Now there are hundreds of "free hugs" groups all around the world, including one that is trying it out in mixed Jewish/Arab neighborhoods in Israel.

The Ironic Catholic is not overly impressed by any of this...which I can understand...it's a little "Precious Moments" sentimental...but I find it moving. Yeah, yeah, peace is more than just a hug away...but after waking up to news of the latest suicide bombing every morning for the past few years, people hugging rather than blowing one another up seems like a refreshing change of pace.


PraiseDivineMercy said...

Aw...Hope IC feels better. It sounds like Lent came a bit early for the both of you.

As for the subject matter, the Bible says "greet one another with a holy kiss." A kiss seems wierd in our culture since it is now something with more romantic overtones (sadly people used to look at me funny for kissing my grandfather on the cheek). However, a hug still occupies a pure place. I think it is for this reason that people in many parishes around here hug during the sign of peace.
The main guy in the first video also ironically looks like many paintings of Jesus. Fitting.

Sanctus Belle said...

Blah, blah....hugginess seems to me more empty sentimental slop. My caption would be "How to feel like your doing something, while doing nothing." Same goes for red/pink/insert color ribbons. All this "raising awareness" does absolutely NOTHING helpful, it only serves to make the wearer "feeeeeel" like they're doing something and annoying the rest of us!

Patsy said...

"Free Meal: Follow me to the Lord's Supper"

Anonymous said...

Free hugs - sponsored by a graduate of 1970s ccd

angelmeg said...

I'm going to have to disagree here. There is scientific evidence that an infant will die without human contact and that premature infants that are stroked are calmer and gain weight faster than those that are left in their isolets.

Human contact is very important, we are a community of faith for a reason people WE NEED EACH OTHER.

I think that the Kiss of Peace is a very important gesture that is so watered down in our communities that it has become something that people want to throw out. This gentleman learned that there are so many people out there who just need to make contact with someone because they feel so alone.

Because we are One Body in Christ we do not stand alone. That is our promise. We are blessed. Share the wealth people!!!

The Ironic Catholic said...

It's true, sic really wanted to post this while I was under duress. You have no idea.

I'm more lukewarm about the idea not because it isn't moving, I just want to say "what's the next step, then?"

Bring able and willing to care for others in a concrete way is important...essential to the Christian life.

Angelmeg, I like your "share the wealth" closer. Christians SHOULD be the most joyful people we know, willing to reach out, break barriers, and comfort those in need. Are we?

angelmeg said...

IC, maybe that should be our goal, and what we should strive for during Lent, to make connections with others.

The book I am reading this Lent is all about making connections with people you aren't already connected to, or you have severed your connection from. A lofty goal, but it makes a point.