Just a short post to let folks know I'm taking a short sabbatical. I realised I have been at this blogging thing for almost three years and maybe it was time I took a break and recharged the batteries. I want to thank the people who have made these past three years such a pleasure and let you all know that I will be back at it in the near future. It always good for people to break their routine once in a while.
Before I extend my break, I do have one thing to comment on. I found the recent revelations about JPII and his penchant for self flagellation unsurprising. It is consistent with his inconsistencies. What I have found surprising in the lack of commentary is how his own treatment of his own body stands in stark contrast to his writing in Theology of the Body. Reminds me of a bulimic who extols on the virtues of nutritious healthy eating and then runs to the bathroom to forcibly expel that nutritious healthy food. The message of course is two fold. One the bulimic is addicted to the endorphin release and subsequent lessening of physical anxiety, and two, the lectures about healthy food apply to everyone else but the bulimic. Somehow their universal rules for others do not apply to their personally unique situation.
In reading the NCR article on JPII I found it very fascinating that JPII would make it look as if he slept in his bed on those nights he prostrated himself on the cold floor and used a 'normal' looking belt to flagellate himself, and that none of the witnesses to his self abuse were named. This penchant for secrecy is a huge red flag which every bulimic I've ever talked with has become masterful at maintaining. It's their 'dirty' little secret shared between them and the porcelain goddess they sort of worship. They know it's not healthy or normal--period.
The question which really needs to be meditated on is why we are to find this behavior of JPII's saintly. This is especially important in that he came of age in a period of time in which totalitarian leadership of both communist and fascist persuasions had no regard for physical suffering and used it to their advantage specifically to underline the point that individuals were not in control of any aspect of their lives. This is a lesson JPII apparently took to heart. Beating himself bloody was a mechanism in which to deal with a fundamental sense of having no control.
Are we being prepared for some type of suffering by being re accustomed to the thought of the benefits of enforced suffering for our own good? Is that why we are being told the devil is alive and well and we are in a virtual war with the powers of evil? Is that why Catholicism's most influential lay apostolates are obsessed with issues of control and authority and the inherent spiritual benefits of personal suffering. Is that why they so infrequently speak of compassion and love. Are we being prepared for something in which negating our own value is important?
Here's what I think. I think we're in a war all right, but it's a different kind of war. It's all about a choice we have to make about where we put our trust. Is it in authority figures like JPII, or Rush Limbaugh, or Barack Obama, or Wall Street? Is it in the value of personal suffering and purifying ourselves of personal autonomy? Or is it in our own capacity to reason to truth and make informed choices? Is our spiritual evolution to be one of submission to an external authority or one of maturing in personal responsibility and love?
This spiritual decision has practical consequences. Will we place our trust in the continued search for technology which mimics our innate capacities and enslaves us to those who control those technologies or will we understand what Jesus was teaching about the real ability of humanity and how we can effect change on the quantum level through intentional focus and the real power of love?
Whipping ourselves with a tool of self flagellation into an endorphin rush is not spiritual. Instead it's an admission of feeling out of control and powerless. It's the act and the choice of a slave. It is not the act of someone who feels liberated and empowered in Christ.
Until next time.