Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cat among the canaries

Oh the siutations one can find oneself in- perhaps never more surprisingly so than when it’s unintended.

Within hours of posting on the two ‘P’s I received another to-the point e-mail from ‘E.S.’ one of my more interesting and challenging correspondents (more on her later- she deserves her own post- at least).

‘Can I pass this on (she asked wickedly)?

‘Of course. My blog is in a public space- the Internet.’

‘Consider yourself warned,’ her only rejoinder.

And that was about all the thought I gave to it. Unemployed though I may currently be- with all of the challenges of undergoing unemployment at 62- the days are never long enough. A good part of the next forty-eight hours was spent in a combination of brainstorming & process mapping for an acquaintance who had invited me to be a participant in her year-long discernment process.

During that time I also received another e-mail from Terry. ‘Is that it-your full take on patriarchy and prophetic lives?’

I hesitated before responding and took my blessed pup for a walk- the first one possible after the most recent snow storm as daschunds have notoriously short legs.

‘Actually, I’m toying with a rather interesting train of thought since my rather protracted practice period this morning,’ I eventually admitted. ‘Putting together notes for the second part of ‘Reading the lay of the land,’ I was struck by the uncanny parallels between the toxic patriarchy in too many quarters of the Church and alcoholism.’

Terry shot back right away- ‘What?’

‘I’m not saying the Church is an alcoholic,’ I was quick to assure him. ‘Rather that patriarchy as a behaviour- a 21st Century means of functioning, shows an amazing number of parallels to chronic alcoholic bahavior- and both are equally toxic.’

‘WOW a lot to think about there.’

‘Thinking is what I’m doing here too. And sitting with it, I’m clear that it would be both preposterous and pretentious for me to even think about looking at the clinical parallels. Its the behavioural parallels which interest me: their implications and repercussions... I’m actually thinking of teasing outa 12 step model as an interpretive medium for much of what’s going on in the Churches.’

‘Now THAT could be original.’

‘Early days yet teasing it out, but it’s beginning to strike me there could be some rather striking parallels between 21st Century patriarchal behaviour & attitudes, and alcoholism. No half measures in either situation. You give up serving drinks, cheating on the side and accepting all the ‘treats’ from your ‘customers;’ or you own the toxicity of your behaviour and seek the help to live beyond it.. You’re either in recovery, or you’re not... Continuing to function with the Swiss-cheese rationalizations of drinking, or claiming the blessing of healing and growing towards the wholeness God keeps calling us to... I mean, it should be clear to even a Martian by now, just what toxic a take on reality patriarchy is. Right?’

‘Brings to mind the situation with our former pastor and the help you gave me... Thinking about your last post, I wonder if his real problem might not have been mix-and-match... He’s a good man, and did nothing to deserve his breakdown or what’s followed in its wake, but at times he could be rather ... rigid- authoritative even, and then he’d wonder why people didn’t understand, didn’t get all worked up over his ideas- you could read it in his eyes, the hurt and frustration.’

Which brings me back to E.S. who called to ‘confess’ what she’d done with my earlier post- ‘passed it on to a relatively young, former colleague of mine- a Jesuit,’ she added with some glee.

‘He probably agrees with me already, ‘ I suggested.

‘That’s not it,’ she explained. ‘There’s this other faculty member –a lay Catholic, who’s really been riding my friends ass. Started with a couple of the sermons he preached in the collegial church at mass, which sent the mathmatics guy on a real witch hunt, had him hunting out the two small books and the articles my friend’s published... Last time I spoke with my Jebbie friend he told me they’d had a real session over some gay Catholic writer- probably a theologian... You may not be the right sort of Catholic (E.S. possibly remembering our much earlier exchange on the distinctions between Rome and Anglican Catholicity) but I sent him your post.

It was about then I shared with her my latest investigatory track. (Cue the cat among the canaries)

‘Oh my, oh my, oh my God!’ and it’s moment’s like this that ‘E.S.’s intellectual passion can most often bring to mind a late May evening, mellow with the promise of summer- the night sky blown wide with light and wonder- May 24th- fireworks for the Queen’s birthday and you’re but ten years old.

Of course ‘E.S.’ pressed for details- her ready appetite for a well though-out, reasoned model she can test- or demolish –in almost any field- is both remarkable and amusing at times.

‘Early days yet,’ I reminded her- twice.

‘Well you’ve got to promise me, whatever you do with this, I’ve got to be the first one to see it.’

A promise I fully intend to keep, I’m no fool.

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