Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Not Blogging Lately Because I Don't Think That I Have Much to Say That Will Make Much of a Difference

I'm not blogging much lately because I don't think, honestly, that I have much to say that will make much of a difference to any of the conversations going on around me. I appreciate readers who have contacted me to ask how I'm doing, and who have shared your similar sense that we're being overtaken by a huge cultural wave at a global level that is moving the global community to some very dark fascist places — and we have all too little power to change the direction of that wave right now.

The Kavanaugh débacle was designed to let many of us know that we are utterly powerless, of course — that we forfeited all power to make a difference with what happened in the 2016 elections. But there's a church aspect to all of this, too:

I follow — on social media, for the most part — conversations reporting on or spawned by the current synod in Rome, and feel a thousand miles removed from any of those conversations.

What does the word "redemptive" mean after we've learned about the horrendous abuse of minors by Catholic clergy and its coverup, for instance?

How can we — how can church gatherings — keep speaking so glibly about "redemption" or "collegiality" or "joy" and "resurrection" and "love," when these grim realities of the abuse horror show stare us in the face, and have not by any means been resolved?

What in God's name are we even talking about, when we claim to be having church conversations, theological conversations, synodal conversations?

And it's not "we" who are talking at all, is it? The people gathered in the synod are hand-picked. The conversations are carefully controlled.

They do not represent the entire church by a long shot.

Women do not even have a vote.

Queer people are — as always in official Catholic conversations — talked about and talked to but not talked with.

Over the pontificates of St. John Paul the Great and Benedict XVI and into the papacy of Francis, the Catholic community has structured itself — from the top down but with the willing compliance of its lay members — as a closed conversation space. After Vatican II and its call to open the conversation space constituting the Catholic community as the people of God….

The way in which conversations are controlled, controlled from the top down by the deliberate suppression of many voices, by the exclusion of many voices, assures that they are conversations in which only a minority of like-minded people are talking to each other.

While these conversations are represented as "catholic," as representative of the whole body of Christ, of the totality of the world community….

The way in which a minority of the world's population — notably, heterosexual males — controls everything else in the world, and the way in which the control of that minority is being cemented into place by ruthless authoritarian structures today, perfectly mirrors what has gone on and continues to go on in the governance and culture of the Roman Catholic church, as far as I can see. The Catholic community is not a countercultural presence in a world of growing fascism. It is the religious iteration of that reality. It is the blessing given to that reality. 

It is the U.S. bishops gloating silently, joyfully at the seating of Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, at the "victories" for "religious freedom" which assure that people selling goods and dispensing services have only to claim "sincere religious conviction" and thereby be allowed to discriminate grossly against women and sexual minority communities. It is the U.S. bishops silently, joyfully congratulating themselves that Hillary Clinton was trounced and Donald Trump elected.

And what kind of conversations can change any of this, really? Especially when those conversations are structured and controlled and channeled by the very people structuring the authoritarian vehicles to assure their minority control of everything in the world….

Structured, controlled conversations have a way of — they're designed to do this — not talking about what needs imperatively to be discussed if the conversations are to have any real-world import at all. They have a way of ignoring the large red elephant lounging ungracefully in the middle of the boardroom table around which "inclusive" conversations are taking place. 

So at the synod, a few people have dared to say that it violates the baptismal rights and dignity of queer people to treat baptized queer Catholics as if they are lesser members of the church than straight Catholics are — but what is not said and yet is perfectly obvious, if A is true, is that (B) a church which treats any baptized members as lesser members of the body of Christ is failing in the most spectacular way possible to be church, and should stop holding synodal conversations and pretending to be a credible church until it has dealt with the fundamental thing that undermines its ecclesial identity in the most radical way possible.

But the people willing to state that perfectly obvious theological observation have long since been excluded from the conversation and told that they are not wanted, thank you very much.

So this perfectly obvious theological observation will not be made at the synod, including by the groups working for greater acceptance of LGBTQ people in the church, who in their own way mirror the structures of exclusion that run all through the church community, producing its closed conversations as they inform perceived outsiders that they speak uncharitable garbage when they try to speak the truth.

Where does hope lie here, I ask myself? Nowhere that I can see. Hence my silence these days.

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