First things first. My days as a daily blogger have ended. Although I will continue to post sporadically, after 650 some posts I have more or less come to a place where I need to move on.
Part of that is economics and part of it is spreading my wings. I feel called back, but also forward, to do what is essentially my primary vocation, and that's not necessarily writing.
These past three years have been really rewarding for me. They have also been truly 'enlightening', in the good sense of that word. The conversations in the comments have led me to countless hours of research and even more countless hours of productive thought. I have been led to other blogs whose content have had a profound effect on my life. I thank each and everyone of you who have added your energy and thought to this effort of mine. Your energy kept me going much much longer than I had ever intended. It's now time to take that energy and spread it into different areas. Hopefully I'll be able to maintain Enlightened Catholicism on at least a weekly basis--most probably weekends. So onto this weeks installment.
One of the metaphors a couple of my Native mentors would use had to do with why it was so difficult to effect change on the rez. They compared the current rez system to a diseased forest. When individual trees escape a diseased forest and then return healthy, there is nothing in the diseased forest to support the healthy tree, and so it to succumbs to the disease. Only those trees which have adapted survival strategies are able to survive. In the rez system the adaptive strategies are actually maladaptive strategies that only further the disease process. Each generation becomes less and less connected to the original primal health.
In this same vein on a more personal level, it's seen in the concept of the 'dry drunk'. The underlying pathology which fostered the drinking is still present in the sober individual, so a drunk mean controlling man becomes a sober mean controlling man. As one medicine man observed, our women prefer the drunk because at least then there is the appearance of an excuse for the mean controlling behavior. Real change can not happen unless there is a real change in the person, not just one behavior. Change involves all aspects of the personality. That means the mental, the physical, the emotional, and the spiritual aspects must all be impacted before there is real lasting change. The question then becomes, how do you achieve that?
In the Native tradition elders would send the seeker on a vision quest. The belief is that change can not be achieved if it is not based on a personal vision. It's the strength of the vision which gives the energy to achieve the change. Frequently the vision sends the seeker on a quest, and the quest becomes a kind of all consuming treasure hunt with many clues found and many tasks completed. Eventually it dawns on one--here I'm speaking personally--that the real end goal of this vision is that it is the process of questing itself which is the lesson. It's always fascinated me that the coyote is such an instrumental animal in many native traditions and always embodies the same message: Coyote is about lessons in which coyote is both the messenger and the message. We keep getting coyote lessons because we fail to see the path is about being the path.
Catholicism and Christianity in general is a diseased forest. If it wasn't, this statistic quoted in John McNeill's latest post would not be true: "In a recent poll among young Christians in the USA between the ages of 16 and 29, 91 percent said that their first association with Christianity is that it is anti-gay."
It beggars the imagination to believe that while Jesus was hanging on the Cross he had a vision in which His church would be primarily associated in the minds of it's youngest generations with anti gay bigotry. The fact we have gotten this far away from His central vision of love says a great deal about how diseased the Christian culture has become. We don't need to recapture Benedict's vision of the priesthood. We need to rediscover Jesus's original vision about love. We need to get back to our real roots, not the perverted vision handed down by the Council of Trent.
Vatican II fathers saw this need, but what they didn't see (and most of us don't) was that Coyote was lurking in the shadows of their vision. They missed the part about the messenger being the message and their vision was lost. They went home and left the Vatican to interpret and enact their vision. The Vatican unfortunately was full of bureaucrats and not true spiritual visionaries. It was full of disease, not medicine people. The individual healthy trees were overcome by the diseased forest and now the primary message of Christ has been supplanted with gay bigotry. The primary association with the Catholic priesthood is sexual abuse.
If Catholicism wants to change these two facts we need to try to recapture Jesus's original vision and work to bring that vision meaningfully into the post modern reality. That won't be done by papal decree. It will only be done through personal vision, communal dreams and the understanding that visions and dreams are not static events. They are the first steps in an endless and ever evolving process.