Re: My Catholic Paper

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From: novela-harmon@bethel.edu
Date: Mon, Aug 28, 2017 at 7:29 PM
Subject: My Catholic Paper
To: grace-k-nelson@bethel.edu

I finished my paper on Catholicism. This was the first assignment for Composition that had a research component. It just had to have some basis - whether internet research, talking to people, etc. Alex really encourages us to talk to people, because the interaction helps us get that cultural component he's looking for. We each do our own work and draw some conclusions, and then share with each other in class what we've learned.

The direction I took was "Todos Somos Católicos" ("Everybody's a Catholic"), a phrase that Lupita used. She didn't literally mean that all Mexicans are Catholic, but basically everyone in her world - her entire extended family, her daughter, her neighbors, her friends, her boss - is. She has heard of Protestants, but has had limited interaction with them. She didn't know the difference between "evangelicals" (apparently somewhat synonymous for the Protestant churches that do exist) and Jehovah's Witnesses - she thought it was the same thing.

For Lupita and, as far as I can tell, Señora, being Catholic is like being Mexican, or being a woman - you just are. Choosing to switch to anything other than Catholicism is a betrayal of your family, your country and your heritage. Apparently the Virgin Mary, or rather the La Virgen de Guadalupe (which is apparently the same, but different - it's the specific manifestation of Mary in Mexico, I think) - is basically synonymous with Mexican nationalism. So when you become a "Christian," you reject the Virgin, so essentially you are ungrateful and unpatriotic. These deep connotations help me understand why Lupita thought that Protestants hated Catholics. There must be a lot of animosity, even (or especially?) among families when someone converts.

Anyway, this was more or less what the paper was about. It got a bit longer than I had intended, and much beyond what was required, but there was no upper limit. I stayed at the internet cafe yesterday as long as it was still pretty light out, doing and synthesizing my additional research so I could print it out. Then I stayed up kind of late fleshing out my thoughts. I printed it out this morning at the computer lab at school before class. I didn't mean to wait until the last minute to finish it, but those last conversations with Lupita and the trip to the Catholic church really added another dimension. I basically redid everything I had before then. Again, I'm not just learning new things, but also realizing how much I didn't know - about Catholics, Mexicans, and what exactly religion can mean to people.

I'm decently pleased with how my paper turned out. We turned them in today and had some discussion, led mainly by Alex. We are going to discuss our particular papers tomorrow, after he's had a chance to look at them. He's going to give us back a marked-up but not graded version tomorrow, and we'll get our grade after the discussion. It's not really a presentation, because it's more like participation points than anything. He's been a pretty easy grader so far, but still, you know me.

And you love me! And I love you too! So write back!

-N

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