19 September 2012

Catholic Speakers Month: Interview with Simcha Fisher

For Support a Catholic Speaker Month 2012, I had the privilege of interviewing one of my favorite bloggers, Simcha Fisher of I have to sit down. If you aren't familiar with her writing, you are missing out!  You can also find her work on Faith and Family Live! and the National Catholic Register.


Wife, mother of nine, freelance writer, popular blogger, and now Catholic speaker? How do you do it all?

Well, I have a house with a stainless steel interior, sloping floors, and a drain in the middle. Once a day, I hose everybody and everything down.  Then we say our prayers and, still dripping, go to our stainless steel beds. 

Heh.  No, but it certainly is a juggling routine.  Something is always getting neglected or mishandled.  The trick is to make sure you vary that something week to week, so things don't get too bad.  And that is not a joke.  That's how we do it.

My husband helps a LOT.  He works two jobs, but he understands that I need help at home; so we have to communicate constantly to make sure that nobody feels like they're getting the short end of the stick.  The horrible part is, we're both night owls who have to get up at 6 a.m.  We do save time by strictly eliminating any sort of exercise from our lives.  It's a grueling regimen, and requires a real devotion to lying on the couch drinking beer and moaning, once the kids are in bed at night, but we try to keep each other honest.

How long have you been writing?

I started in first grade.  I wrote a book review for a book called The Little Airplane.  It went: "The little airplane.  This book is about a little airplane."  That was before I knew about adverbs.

I was lucky enough to have a high school teacher who required daily writing, and I went to a college where the students turned out reams and reams of essays.  I wrote long letters to family and letters to the editor when I got married, and started a personal blog about six years ago.  My first post showed a picture of the baby eating spaghetti out of the garbage.  So, more or less back to the little airplane again.

But then, one day, Danielle Bean read my blog and said something very wonderful to me.  She said, "I will pay you for that."  And so I started submitting articles to Catholic websites and magazines, and now I make literally hundreds of dollars at my craft! 

And I'm about 80% done with a book I'm writing about NFP.

Has humor always been a prominent characteristic of your speaking and writing? How does it affect the messages you're sharing with your audience?

Yeah, it's hard to get away from.  My family is Jewish (we converted to Catholicism when I was about four), and we are pretty much always laughing and/or crying and/or yelling about something.  I lean on humor even when I have a serious point to make, because it reminds people that we're all in this together.  Also, life is funny. 

As a blogger, I'm sure you have experience with folks to take advantage of the anonymity of the Internet to say hateful things. Have you ever encountered the same type of remarks as a speaker? How do you deal with these comments online? In person?

Wow, I never thought of dealing with it at a speech!  I would probably burst into tears.  But honestly, nobody goes to, like, a three-day homeschooler's conference in Connecticut just to heckle people. I don't think.

Online, my policy is to pretend I'm a much, much better person than I really am.  Sometimes I manage it, and sometimes I don't.  Sometimes I go for the snarky, sarcastc zinger, because it feels so good (until later, when you realize -- ugh, nice job showing the face of Christ to the world). 

When someone really gets under my skin, I try to pray for them (just a quick Hail Mary!) before I respond.  Sometimes it turns out that someone is writing nasty stuff out of personal pain, and you just happened to get in the way.  Or sometimes, people are just jerks, and that's their problem, not yours.

It's very liberating, though, to realize that I really don't have to answer at all, if I don't want to.  In that way, I can kind of be anonymous, too.  For all they know, I never even saw the comment.  So, poo on them.  (Yes, I learned that phrase from St. Alphonsis Liguori.)

Many of your talks address family size, large families or NFP. These days, we're hearing a lot of numbers thrown around to "prove" that Catholic women don't care what the Church says about birth control. Are women really open to the message of NFP and openness to life?

That's a great question.  Women are, as you know, not a monolith -- as much as the secular media would like to make us out to be.  Some women are most definitely open to the message of openness to life. 

We've seen several generations of the disorder and suffering that promiscuity can cause.  You don't have to be a religious fanatic to realize that things aren't going too well.  So even thoroughly secularized women are probably ready for some kind of message.  I think, at the very least, most women are ready to hear someone say, "You deserve better.  You should be treated with respect.  You are not a commodity, and it's okay that you're going to get old.  So, what in your life needs changing right now?"

How can moms who may not be comfortable with public speaking share this message with those around them?

This may sound like a cop-out, but I really do believe that the message begins by telling it to your family.  Make sure your family knows that you are pro-their-life!  Make sure your children know that you like them.  Make sure your husband knows you desire him.  You build a happy, secure family, and other people will see it -- they will get the message. 

It's okay not to go out of your way to preach, as long as you do leave the house at some point, and let people see you!  People need to see happiness -- they need to see love in action.  It feeds them.

How can Catholic bloggers and speakers contribute to the New Evangelization today?

By acting like normal human beings, I think.  Being Catholic in public shows the secular world that we are not some kind of repressed, finger-sniffing weirdos.  Some of us are smart, some of us are nice, some of us are depressed, some of us are cute, some of us are snappy dressers, some of us are just everyday schlubs -- just like the rest of the world.

And, just as importantly, being ourselves reminds our fellow Catholics that we're all in this together.  Because I think Catholics need to be evangelized (or at least encouraged) just as much as the secular world does.  It's been really great to see Catholics realize, over the last couple of decades:  oh!  There are people like me out there!  There are people who struggle with NFP, people who drink too much and then regret it, people who kind of hate saying the rosary -- and they're still actual Catholics, not phonies or failures or deadbeats. 

Of course there is the inevitable downside to all this honesty.  But overall, I think having Catholics being sort of loud and proud (and looney and messy, like we always are) has been a net positive, and it will just get better.

If you could be invited to speak anywhere, where would you want to go?

I wouldn't want to set foot in a place that would invite someone like me.  Heh.  But really, I am a homebody.  I'm paranoid about hotel bedbugs.  I get lost on the way to my kids' elementary school.  And I never understand how to work the blinds in hotel room windows. 

But if they would come to me, I think I would most like to address an audience of husbands.  I would just like to thank them, and encourage them, and remind them how desperately the world needs them to be strong and steadfast, tender to their families, but courageous to the outside world.  I would like to tell them that women love men because they are different from us!  But that they also need to be different from other men. 

And then I would like them to buy me a drink.
You can find more information about inviting Simcha to speak at your event here.

Don't forget to check out the complete list of 2012's top Catholic speakers!

1 comment:

  1. Really enjoyed that - made me feel useful after all. Thanks Simcha. By the way I absolutely HATE those scrambled word thingees I'm supposed to bow down to to get my comment published. Never mind - on with the job