Friday, February 27, 2009

Sort of describes me and JPII. Opposite Poles.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about a paragraph I wrote yesterday in which I said that somehow Archbishop Chaput and I started out exactly the opposite of each other in the political religious sense, and after experiencing the seventies and eighties, moved to the exact opposite ends of the spectrum. He is now where I started and vice versa.

Theologically I had moved from traditional conservative to a more progressive liberal by the time I left undergraduate school. I had great theology teachers who opened up a theological world I had no idea even existed. These men were not all Vatican II liberals, in fact, some of them would have been right at home in the Legion of Christ, but what they all had in common was a strong desire to pursuit theological truth and to give their students the means to do so themselves. In other words they had a commitment to doing theology, not teaching us the catechism.

I remember my last semester when I was taking one course called 'Christian Secularity' and another on demonology. My faculty adviser, who taught the Christian Secularity class, could not for the life of him understand why I would waste my time on a class on demonology. I tried to explain to him that demonology pointed to a much bigger cosmos than secularists were want to entertain and that I found the whole topic fascinating because historically it tied into my Clinical Psychology major.

I don't know that he bought into my reasoning, but the ironic thing is that the priest who taught demonology sort of cracked up in the middle of the semester and my faculty advisor wound up having to teach the demonology class. He was so not comfortable giving any credence to the whole concept of demonology, so it was fun to sit in class and watch him squirm.

I wrote a final paper on Padre Pio, in which I speculated on whether Padre Pio was a delusional psychotic or a mystic connected to an entirely different reality demonstrating untapped human potential. I opted for the human potential thing, and my adviser opted for the delusional psychotic. When I asked him why, he said mystics like Padre Pio scared the crap out him because there was no legitimate theology in which to place people like him other than atonement theology. Atonement theology was not at all about human potential, except in the dark evil sense of things. It was a theology he did not agree with and felt mankind, at least in the educated West, had move beyond it. His implication was that perhaps my fascination with Padre Pio indicated I had not. That wasn't true, I had moved considerably beyond atonement theology.

What he didn't know was the real reason I was fascinated with Padre Pio. I had had a couple of mind blowing alternate reality occurrences which rattled me to my core. I couldn't deny them because there were rational witnesses, but I also knew I had no world view which would contain them and the only one available was in demonology and mysticism. I was heavily vested in opting for the human potential explanation for Padre Pio and not at all interested in affirming the delusional psychotic explanation. I may have been a little delusional, but I was not psychotic.

As I kept experiencing these occurrences of an alternate reality I found myself being driven into quantum physics, other spiritual traditions, searching for any Catholic theologian who even began to address any of my concerns. Not surprisingly I found myself reading Teilhard De Chardin and Thomas Merton and even some tantalizing references to things Padre Pio himself had experienced which led me to believe that he saw the cosmos much differently than his followers would credence. Things which affirmed my own experiences. Things which ennoble and affirm humanity and our place in the cosmos rather than denigrate humanity as victims of an ontological first mistake.

I began to see Jesus and his teachings in an entirely different light. I saw Him as teaching a world view in which mankind would be capable of effecting change in this reality by extending our consciousness into other realities, but the key to it was the two great laws, love of God, and a ego less love of one's fellow man. These are the same teachings which are the ground of all effective spiritual traditions.

I also learned something else. Catholic atonement theology, with it's emphasis on fear of hell and the active involvement of the demonic, is the perfect mental framework to create the very fearful things it seeks to control. That which we fear is that which we attract for ourselves and our societies. This is why I sometimes cringe when I hear some of the advice given to people on EWTN. Neither Jesus nor his followers were terrified by dark energy. They understood the real power of love and the effect that love has on the greater universe.

Back to Archbishop Chaput. Politically I turned left during the Reagan years for two reasons. The first was the farce of 'trickle down' economics. Rather than wealth trickling down, it was kept in the family by one corporate take over after another. My own company underwent a raid by T. Boone Pickens when he attempted to corner the silver and gold markets. Although the company managed to fend off the takeover bid, it eventually cost us 10% of our work force of which I was amongst those who drew the short straws. So you could say I was trickled down and out.

The second reason was Reagan's blatant use of the fear card. People seem to forget that under Reagan the real war between the Soviet Union and the US was fought with money being pored into military armaments. While it triggered a recession in the US, it bankrupted the Soviet Union, and unfortunately for the Russian people, organized crime was the first beneficiary of Western style capitalism. The fear card always attracts the darkest elements. The Bush years are a Reagan de ja vu. The fear card has wreaked it's havoc again.

So while the Church and American culture was moving to the right, back into the politics and theology of fear, I was spiritually and theologically moving away from the coercive politics of fear and into freedom based in integrity and love. I don't know that that exactly makes me a liberal and it sure doesn't make me a pragmatist, but it might make me a Jesus follower and I've found that's a good place to be.

For another interesting take on this same time frame check out today's post on Bilgrimage in which Bill Lyndsey addresses a reader's comment about what happened to Vatican II? Personally I think it's become another victim of the interests playing the fear card.


  1. I am reading Rick Santorum's opinion in the Philadelphia Inquirer as linked from Bill's blog and this in particular really stood out for me which needs to be addressed seriously by Rick Santorum and his ilk.

    "Pelosi made it easy for the bishops to confront an offense against church teaching, because, rather than state her own position, she misstated the church's position. To the church, this is akin to wearing a "Kick me" sign on your backside."

    "Sadly, the church hierarchy has been less assertive when public figures' policy positions openly dissent from core teachings."

    He is advocating for VIOLENCE against women. This is also against Church teaching.

  2. From reading Rick Santorum's rant it seems a call from the extreme right wing of the Church to become like police and not, certainly not become or act like Jesus Christ the true shepherd.

    Interesting that he points out the Pope did not have pictures taken with Nancy Pelosi. When the Pope was in the US he had no problem having his picture taken with pro-war, pro-torture, pro-elite GW Bush or Cheney or any other right wing nut for that matter. Singling out this woman speaks volumns to me about Mr. Santorum's fear of women and the desire to create images that are truly pornographic of him doing something violent to her rear end. What he has written is an image of violence that sanctions violence against Pelosi or anyone else who thinks differently than he. Jesus never taught this. This is not a writing that was inspired by the Holy Spirit that Rick Santorum wrote. It is a writing which was inspired by some other dark force which he has apparently identified with and is part of his Identity.

    Mr. Santorum and his ilk obviously have bought into the Church's vision of women which is a pornographic vision as well as a vision of women as slaves for the lusts of men. It is no wonder that there is a rise in the sex slavery industry at this moment in history while Mr. Santorum and Martino bully universities against creating the future's thinkers who will need to think about how to deal with their fear of a male dominated society which kicks women in the arse for speaking their minds and just plainly wanting to be free of slavery to male dominance.

    Men might buy into Rick Santorum's imagery of kicking women in the arse for speaking their minds and there just might be a rise in domestic violence within Catholic homes due to his statement. Apparently he has not thought about that at all.

    Very sad that these men will do nothing or say anything against the sex slave industry and will build up the notion that women are inferior to men.

    When there is no freedom of thought, there is no such thing as freedom. Mr. Santorum and Martino are teaching Catholics to be real slaves.

  3. It is even worse than that ...

    I was reading about Fred Phelps today, and as I was reading I kept hearing myself say ... Benedict did that ... Martino did that ... the Vatican has done that ...

    I realized that the as each day passes, the RCC leadership is becoming more aligned with Fred Phelps and his faithful elect.

    Also, dont be surprised when we find out that the vatican bank has been laundering money for the sex slave industry as well as other criminal enterprises.

  4. Carl, how would one find out if the Vatican is laundering money for the sex slave industry?

  5. At this point, one of the principles in the transaction would have to confess to it.

    The vatican bank is a closed entity, only the pope knows how much, what and from where. Records are destroyed every 10 years in order to insure that there is no way anyone can trace the monies.

    It has been established over the years that the vatican bank and organized crime have a long history. There isnt much that organized crime does not have its hands in.

    Perhaps that is my cynicism showing ... time will tell.

  6. By closed entity do you mean that they are not accountable to anyone?

    The People of God need to address this issue and demand to have the records open or deny them money if they do not cooperate.

    If they have nothing to hide, then why the secrecy?

  7. Here is a book review that you might find interesting. I have read the book and find it credible. The faithful orthodox will dismiss the author as a catholic hater, however, his research seems to be solid.

    The Vatican exposed : money, murder, and the Mafia
    Williams, Paul L., 1944-

    the current financial strength of the Roman Catholic Church as well as many of its problems began in 1929 with the signing of the Lateran Treaty, in which a financially besieged Pope Pius XI exchanged recognition and support of Mussolini's Fascist government for more than $90 million and the establishment of the Vatican as a sovereign state. Williams traces how the Vatican's new emphasis on financial stability led it into other morally questionable financial arrangements with Adolf Hitler, the fascist state of Croatia and reputed Sicilian Mafia financier Michele Sindona. He examines carefully the establishment and workings of the Instituto per le Opere di Religione, commonly known as the Vatican Bank, "an entity unto itself without corporate or ecclesiastical ties to any other agency within the Holy See." While parts of the book overlap with other recent works on the Vatican and the popes (especially on Pius XI's refusal to censure the brutal ethnic cleansing of Orthodox Serbs and Jews by Croatia's Ustashi regime) this is a surprisingly solid short look at the dubious financial dealings of the Vatican from the 1920s to the present.

  8. That's interesting Carl. I recall when reading about the 1930s and having to go back a few years for more information that the Vatican was concerned about certain rights being obtained for the church that were lost for a hundred years or so. I can't remember all the details, but it seems to me I do recall they received money from Mussolini's government in a deal they worked out.

    I've been reading again about narcissism and group narcissism in a book by Erich Fromm entitled The Heart of Man. I've had this book around for years and have yet to read the entire thing. From time to time I'll pick it up and it still seems relevant for today's understanding of the ultra-right fundamentalist conservatives in the Church and in other religions around the world that are terrorizing and threatening others who don't agree with them.

    This is certainly not the first time that group narcissism has appeared onto the world stage. Hitler and Stalin "found believers who "cured" their narcissism by transforming the world to fit it; such people must also try to destroy all critics, since they cannot tolerate the threat which the voice of sanity constitutes for them."

    For our purposes here, the narcissist is Benedict, aka Ratzinger and he fits the description of someone who destroys his critics. "...we see that their need to find believers, to transform reality so that it fits their narcissism, and to destroy all critics, is so intense and so desperate precisely because it is an attempt to prevent the outbreak of insanity."

    "The history of the Roman Catholic Church is one of many examples of the peculiar misture of narcissism and the counteracting forces within a large group. The elements counteracting narcisssm within the Catholic Church are, first of all, the concept of the universality of man and of a "catholic" religion which is no longer the religion of one particular tribe or nation. Second, the idea of personal humility which follows from the idea of God and the denial of idols. The existence of God implies that no man can be God, that no individual can be omniscient or omnipotent. But at the same time the Church has nourished a intense narcissism; believing that the Church is the only chance of salvation and that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ, its members were able to develop an intense narcissism inasmuch as they were members of such an extraordinary institution. The same occurred in relation to God; while the omniscience and omnipotence of God should have led to man's humility, often the individual identified himself with God and thus developed an extraordinary degree of narcissism in this process of identification."

    "This same ambiguity between a narissistic or an antinarcissistic function has occurred in all the other great religions, for example, in Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, and Protestantism. I have mentioned the Catholic religion not only because it is a well-known example, but mainly because the Roman Catholic religion was the basis both for humanism and for violent and fanatical religious narcissism at one and the same historical period: the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The humanist within the Church and those outside spoke in the name of a humanism which was the fountainhead of Christianity. Nicholas of Cusa preached religious tolerance for all men; Ficino taught that love is the fundamental force of all creation; Erasmus demanded mutual tolerance and a democratization of the Church; Thomas More, the nonconformist, spoke and died for the principles of universalism and human solidarity; Postel, building on the foundations laid by Nicholas and Erasmus spoke of global peace and world unity; Siculo, following Pico della Mirandola, spoke enthusiastically of man's dignity, of his reason and virtue, and of his capacity for self-perfection. These men, with many others growing from the soil of Christian humanism, spoke in the name of universality, brotherliness, dignity, and reason. They fought for tolerance and peace."

    Against them stood the forces of fanaticism on both sides; that of Luther and that of the Church. The humanists tried to avoid the catastrophe; eventually the fanatics on both sides won. Religious persecution and war, culminating in the disastrous Thirty Years' War, were a blow to humanist development from which Europe has still not recovered (one cannot help thinking of the analogy of Stalinism, destroying socialist humanism three hundred years later). Looking back to the religious hatred of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, its irrationalities are clear. Both sides spoke in the name of God, of Christ, of love, and they differed only in points which, if compared with the general principles, were of secondary importance. Yet they hated each other, and each was passionately convinced that humanity ended at the frontiers of his own religious faith. The essence of this over-estimation of ones' own position and the hate for all who differ from it is narcissism. "We" are admirable; "they" are despicable. "We" are good; "they" are evil. Any criticism of one's own doctrine is a vicious and unbearable attack; criticism of the others' position is a well-meant attempt to help them to return to the truth."

    "From the Renaissance onward, the two great contradictory forces, group narcissism and humanism, have each developed in its own way. Unfortunately the development of group narcissism has vastly outstripped that of humanism, have each developed in its own way. Unfortunately the development of group narcissism has vastly outstripped that of humanism. While it seemed possible in the late Middle Ages and at the time of the Renaissance that Europe was prepared for the emergency of a political and religious humanism, this promise failed to materialize. New forms of group narcissism emerged, and dominated the following centuries. This group narcissism assumed manifold forms: religious, national, racial, political. Protestants against Catholics, French against Germans, whites against blacks, Aryans against non-Aryans, Communists against capitalists; different as the contents are, psychologically we deal with the same narcissistic phenomenon and its resulting fanaticism and destructiveness."

    I thought that it was worth typing this out to put things in perspective. The book is worth reading.

  9. Thanks butterfly, this was a fascinating read. Erich Fromm's pitting humnanism against narcisism explains a great deal, especially as it pertains to Catholicism.

    I'm going to have to hunt his book up and read it again.