Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Business Matter

Ever since I wrote a total of two posts about Pure Fashion, the Regnum Christi/Legion of Christ "modesty in dress" program which includes fashion shows, I've been hearing from Brenda Sharman, Pure Fashion's National Director. Because I had not yet adopted or posted the Welborn Protocol, I kept her e-mails private. I did update one post after hearing directly from the USA Today reporter who mentioned Pure Fashion without mentioning their Legion of Christ affiliation, but I left the other post alone. I am not a news reporter, and I write about my opinions. If someone else uses facts that are in dispute, and I quote that person, I do not have a newspaper reporter's duty to spend hours demanding financial records from both parties and then determining who is correct; thus, I have so far responded to Ms. Sharman's continuing disappointment that I have not pulled or altered my first Pure Fashion post because she alleges that it contains innacurate information by simply ignoring the e-mails.

However, I have decided to share Ms. Sharman's most recent e-mail here; since the Welborn Protocol is clearly posted on my blog and since Ms. Sharman's e-mail is not marked "private" in any way I believe this is the best course of action. Her e-mail follows:
Hi Erin,
Happy Springtime to you!

I just came upon this e-mail exchange as I was cleaning up old e-mails and I googled Pure Fashion to see if that old (and very inaccurate) post is still on your site, and it was?

As I mentioned in our previous e-mails, the pricing that the woman referred to is not described correctly and it is untrue and unfair for Pure Fashion Atlanta’s financial records to be so negatively (and inaccurately) described.

There are soo many women who work tirelessly on this program AS VOLUNTEERS and the Legion is NOT making money a profit off Pure Fashion...

I really am happy to speak with you directly about this? We are trying to help the Church and not harm it...there are already enough people in the secular world doing enough of that....I would think that my Catholic Sisters in Christ could all work together for good and not tear each other up?
I can guarantee that Our Lord would want us to work together to build up the church and not participate in tearing each other down.

Let me know your thoughts?
God bless,
Now, bear in mind that Ms. Sharman is describing as "very inaccurate" a post of over 800 words, and less than 200 of them are the quote she dislikes from the author of the "Life-after-RC" blog. Most of my words in the post deal with my dislike of the Legion based on a family member's bad experiences, my observation that money does seem to be a concern of many Legion affiliates, and my observation that tickets for my family to attend one of these shows would cost nearly $200. A quick look at the Pure Fashion website shows that two upcoming Pure Fashion shows in the US are charging $40.00 per ticket for people to attend, so my observation about my family's costs simply to go to a show stand--this is not an inaccurate statement at all, and it was the main focus of my concern about the costs to attend an afternoon fashion show; what is inaccurate about pointing out that many faithful Catholic families simply couldn't afford to spend such an amount of money on the luxury of watching trendily-dressed young women parade around on a stage?

It is not up to me to verify who is relaying accurate information about the money made for the Legion/RC by the Pure Fashion program, or even to discover if the program makes or loses money. All I have are two unsubstantiated allegations, one by someone involved with the program presently, and one by a former member of Regnum Christi who is relaying information she has about one program, the one in Atlanta. In order to know for certain who is right, here, I would need to see detailed financial information from the Atlanta show in question, and frankly I'd still need someone skilled in finance to decipher it all for me. I certainly don't expect Ms. Sharman or Pure Fashion to provide me with that information--but I'm not going to pull the "Life-after-RC" quote simply because Ms. Sharman says the "Life-after-RC" information must be inaccurate; and as for pulling the whole post, we should just say that I don't respond well to any sort of harassment no matter how sweetly phrased, and leave it at that.

In fact, I have no intention of pulling the post, as what I wrote, my words, are my opinion on the matter. The quote I inserted from the "Life-after-RC" author was interesting to me, but I make no assumption as to its accuracy; again, I'm not a reporter. If it can be definitively proven that the Atlanta show in question did not involve a fee of $450 for each model, did not involve each model being required to raise $1000 in sponsorships, did not involve ticket sales at the price mentioned, and did not cover the costs not only of the venue but of the items and services which the "Life-after-RC" blogger alleges were donated and did not cost the program any money, then I will remove that quote only from a post which otherwise expresses my honest opinion about the Pure Fashion program, which I am perfectly free, as a Catholic, to find overly worldly, expensive, and not particularly conducive to the sort of modesty which abhors vanity and making a display of one's looks.

To express that opinion is not in any way to tear down the Church nor to harm her, and I do not take kindly to any suggestion to the contrary. The Legion is not the Church; the Legion's programs are not the Church; Regnum Christi is not the Church; and Pure Fashion is not the Church--these are simply a religious movement and its various programs, and any Catholic is as free to accept or reject their work as he is to accept or reject the devotions and programs of any other religious movement (barring only those which have been banned or suppressed or found heretical, which, of course, he must not accept).

I have never been associated or affiliated with any Legion of Christ/Regnum Christi group, and thus I am perfectly free to express my opinions about their ministries and programs. My view is that of some Catholic bishops who have expressed their concerns (publicly and privately) that the Legion's affiliates attempt to create a "parallel church." Thus even if I didn't find the Pure Fashion program troublingly worldly, I could not in good conscience support or recommend Pure Fashion because it is my opinion that the program's ties to Regnum Christi and the Legion are as problematic as any other Legion affiliate's ties. And I see no reason at all to pull an entire post which expresses one aspect of that opinion simply because of a quote I chose to use in it.


Jeannette said...

Been there; you have my sympathy and prayers. If it starts to get to you, talk to others who are having the same problem to reinforce that the problem really is them and not you. (Unless you're also receiving an Apostolic Visitation to determine whether or not you should be suppressed. In which case, you really are as poor a Catholic as Brenda implies!)

freddy said...

Bravo, Erin! This is nothing less than a form of passive-aggressive bullying and it should be brought into the light for all to see.

I am very sorry to see your correspondent engage in the type of "love-me-love-my-dog" mentality that conflates an idea, organization, movement or other with the Church and raise it to the level of That-Which-May-Not-Be-Questioned. It is a temptation with which I am sure we all struggle: I know I do! Healthy criticism, questioning, pondering and opinions will never harm the Church, and they do much to ensure honesty and growth among those who serve Her.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I thought the gist of the post was to bring to light about the varied approaches that those 'money changers' loosely affiliated with the Catholic Church go about to raise money for their own causes. I wasn't a fan of a special brand of clothing, certainly didn't think that the concept was anything to get excited about (there are such things as sewing machines and needles and thread), and was under the impression that expressing one's opinion was the point of the blog post.

Charlotte (Matilda) said...

Trying to harass Red Cardigan? How's that workin' out for ya?

Anonymous said...

My experience with Pure Fashion was to ask a mom (in private) to please stop asking my daughter to buy tickets to the event every time she came to class. That we could not afford it, and she was being made to feel uncomfortable. I thought we made an amicable and private agreement until the next class and every class thereafter where my daughter was ostrasized by both students and parents (it was a homeschool class).