|God finally answered Job, but I wonder if two other folks are going to be so blessed.|
I've encountered two stories this year which speak to me about the power of committed individuals to take on the mega powers in this world. They also speak to me of how the Holy Spirit can and does appoint certain individuals to be 'worthy adversaries' whose mission is to point to the corruption, the hubris, and the sense of 'untouchability' with which humans and human institutions delude themselves. On the surface their stories are somewhat mundane, but when one looks deeper, their stories are in some sense other worldly.
But first a definition. In my own personal lexicon a worthy adversary is one who while seemingly an opponent or an enemy, actually exists to push one beyond their current self understanding or personal dysfunction. The classic Biblical story describing this relationship is Job. In this story Lucifer takes on the role of worthy adversary at God's behest. Lucifer goes after Job with a great deal of vocational enthusiasm until finally Job stands in righteous fury, having been stripped of any impediment which might stifle his voice, and demands God explain Himself. Lucifer's machinations have taken Job from a sort of mindless self satisfied follower of Yahweh to a fully engaged human being standing in all his naked dignity, having become God's worthy adversary in the process. God answers Job in the one and only time God is described as answering to a mere human----somewhat petulantly I might add. In any event through Job, mankind has turned a corner in his conception of himself. Job insists the Creator has an obligation to answer to His creation. God's final answer is Jesus.
The first worth adversary is Paolo Gabrielle, Pope Benedict's butler. From reading accounts, he was able to accomplish what he did because he was perceived as more or less part of the furniture in the Pope's private quarters: The following excerpts are taken from the Religious New Service account of his moving to trial for aggravated theft. The first is the description of his work performance by Msgr Georg Ganswein:
Msgr. Georg Ganswein, Pope Benedict's personal secretary, told investigators Gabriele needed to be "continually guided and directed" and "sometimes it was necessary to repeat things more than once."
Nevertheless, after about a year of working together, Msgr. Ganswein, a German, said he began giving Gabriele simple administrative tasks, including drafting responses to letters and notes in Italian when the subject matter was not particularly sensitive.
This next excerpt is from one of the psychiatrists who examined Gabrielle. I found his description fascinating because in my mind it describes the perfect 'simple' lay Catholic Benedict seems to want to direct the entire Church towards protecting and sustaining because it is this personality type that sustains Benedict's power.
Dr. Roberto Tatarelli, a professor of psychiatry at Sapienza University of Rome, reported that Gabriele showed no signs of "clinically significant disturbances" that could explain his actions or cast doubt on his ability to understand what he was doing was wrong.
But the doctor wrote that Gabriele had a "simple intelligence" and a "fragile personality with paranoid tendencies, covering up a deep personal insecurity and an unresolved need to enjoy the esteem and affection of others," according to the report by Piero Bonnet, the Vatican's investigating judge.
Benedict's butler was exactly what Benedict wished for in the Catholic laity, and by gosh he might want to rethink just how sheep like these perfect lay sheep really are, because just like Job, they want answers. In Gabrielle's case he wants the same answers the rest of us do about the corruption and self serving in the Vatican City boys club.
Job demanded to know what kind of God it was that he served, Gabrielle wanted us to know what kind of Vatican it was that served us:
"From my position, I could observe the double papal function, that as head of the church and head of the state (of Vatican City)," Gabriele told Bonnet. Particularly the way Vatican City was operating could be a "scandal for the faith," he said.
"I was aware that the Holy Father was not informed about some of these things or was misinformed. With the help of others like Nuzzi, I thought things could be seen more clearly," Gabriele said.
He said that "seeing evil and corruption everywhere in the church," he reached "a point of no return" and felt compelled to act.
"I was certain that a shock, even in the media, could be healthy in putting the church back on the right track," Gabriele was quoted as saying.
He said he was fascinated by the world of intelligence, or spying, and believed that in some way, the Holy Spirit played that role in the church, and he was the Holy Spirit's instrument.
Given the number of real intelligence agents that hang around the Vatican, it's not surprising Gabrielle decided he was one of the Holy Spirit's. Now if only Pope Benedict would see Gabrielle in the same way, maybe he will be motivated to clean up the Vatican.
The second worth adversary is Sr Megan Rice, the 82 year old sister who broke into Oak Ridge with two others. I wrote on this story last week, and this week the New York Times did a profile on her. What's quite interesting is the Department of Energy paid to have her do an oral history of her life and activities as an anti nuclear activist. The DOE at least recognised she is a truly worthy adversary. Here's a quote from the Times article that spells out just how worthy they take her to be:
The actions of Sister Rice, a New York native who grew up on a prosperous block in Morningside Heights, and her companions, ages 57 and 63, are a huge embarrassment for President Obama. Since 2010, he has led a campaign to eliminate or lock down nuclear materials as a way to fight atomic terrorism. Now, the three — two of whom, including Sister Rice, are free and are awaiting trial in October — have made nuclear theft seem only a little more challenging than a romp in the Tennessee woods. (Sort of like stealing hundreds of classified documents from the Pope and having a book written off of them is just another day at work.)
In interviews this week, Sister Rice discussed her life — somewhat reluctantly at times — and kept emphasizing what she called “the issue.”
“It’s the criminality of this 70-year industry,” she said. “We spend more on nuclear arms than on the departments of education, health, transportation, disaster relief and a number of other government agencies that I can’t remember.”(Are you getting this message Romney/Ryan, Obama/Biden?
Federal prosecutors, needless to say, take a different view. “This is a matter of national security,” William C. Killian, a United States attorney, told reporters outside a Knoxville courtroom. “It is a significant case.”
Both of these incidents are significant in that in both cases huge and expensive security systems and trained personnel were circumvented as if they didn't exist. Now that both the Vatican and Oak Ridge have been thoroughly embarrassed, these two people will have the book thrown at them by the governments they so easily compromised. I'm not saying they shouldn't, but what I am hoping, is that these incidents are looked at much deeper than just security violations. Sr Rice and Paolo Gabrielle did what they did because they were motivated to do something about the corruption in Catholicism and the criminality inherent in nuclear armaments. These two things are the real messages, not the security breaks. The ease with which security was breached only serve to point to the importance of the message--or perhaps Gabrielle is absolutely right, and the ease with which these events happened actually does points to how important these messages are to the Holy Spirit.