Friday, September 10, 2010

Slowing Down

As you may have noticed, this blog has started to slow down recently.

I wrote a lot of posts in this past year, more than one per day on average, but for now I feel like I've said most of what I want to say and people can always reference my posts in the archives.

Off-chance daydreams of some brewing revolution which, if it were to have happened, would most likely have been occasioned by the outbreak of scandal earlier in the year, have, like many idle fantasies, faded with the fading of the media outrage into a knowledge that any reform is going to take patience and long-suffering and hard work on the individual level.

And the reform of individual lives and attitudes is exactly what we need, something of which many good friends and contacts I met through this blog have constantly been reminding me not to lose sight. Of course, changing minds and hearts is all this could ever be about anyway. We can't change structures. Oh, we can and should try, and may succeed over time...but the important thing for ourselves is our own attitudes, is the fact that we're trying. I have no doubt that the right attitudes are, indeed, those which would clearly incline us towards towards supporting institutional reform; there is an incredible spiritual crisis in the world and the Church itself right now. But it's more the knowing that such reform is needed, and of the reasons why, that is important for us spiritually if we are to be saved.

Maybe the Pope isn't going to become a great and courageous leader; we can't force him. But we can at least free our minds from the obsequious and intellectually dishonest idea that he already is, while also respecting the man for his gentleness and intelligence. Maybe we can't even force the "mainstream" trad sources to become less crazy, less intolerant, less fascist, less Eurocentric, etc...but we can ourselves values sanity and tolerance, have broader minds and broader hearts, and demonstrate such attitudes to those that we meet on a day to day basis, being a good example (in all our own imperfection) for those who have been scandalized or simply put-off by the militant brand of orthodoxy and traditionalism.

Maybe the hierarchy's abysmal pastoral policies towards sinners (in other words, towards everyone except the self-anointed righteous) are here for the foreseeable future, but we can transcend and come to largely ignore them, make our own peace, and love with the love of Christ in our own lives. Maybe they aren't going to fix the structures of accountability or end mandatory celibacy, but we can refuse to bow in our own mindsets to that sort of confusion of authoritarianism with obedience and sexual repression with chastity. Maybe the traditional liturgy is going to be slow in returning, but we can still hold to the foundational values of tradition in our hearts, promote it locally, and attend it when and where we can. We have to obey in practice the discipline that is in place, but we don't have to support it in the abstract.

If this blog has been about anything, it's about holding to tradition and orthodoxy without becoming a fundamentalist or Pharisee. And in the end, that is more a question of internal psychological dynamics, of achieving true inner freedom over the suffocation of mental coercion, than one of actually different belief or practice. Anyone can foreclose and simply accept some abstract totalizing meta-narrative that bulldozes over all the concrete circumstances of actual individuals, pretending that the system is airtight and that doubt doesn't even make sense. And anyone in our modern society can, on the other hand, simply reject beliefs or theories which are personally inconvenient or which demand personal sacrifice. But to wrestle with God, while knowing that you can't win in the end, but to nevertheless sweat and suffer and then surrender with your dignity intact...that is the narrow path that Christianity demands.

It is a constant battle, with its highs and its lows. But it means that I can have more in common, on the level of my personality and interpersonal values, with an atheist or heretic friend than with some neocon, even with whom I share all my theoretical doctrinal framework and moral beliefs or some trad who shares my liturgical aesthetic. On the other hand, it also does imply that no changes in those externals can ever solve anything if the attitudes do not change too (look how many aging mean-spirited grumpy ideologue liberals we now see!), though certain policy or structural changes could certainly be more conducive to health and wholeness.

I'm also in a weird place emotionally right now, and with school and work starting up for me again very soon, I can't guarantee much original on here. If I find something good, or have a thought, or an interesting conversation that sparks ideas I want to share, I will continue to do so. But I can't guarantee anything like daily updating for now.

I would like to thank everyone, though, who has contacted me along the way and supported these efforts and shown me that we are not alone, that there are plenty of moderate, mature, sane people out there who think for themselves even while remaining faithful. Who hold to orthodoxy and tradition even while finding in it more troubling questions and existential angst than easy answers or emotional comfort. People who too often are not heard in our modern sound-byte culture wars of identity politics, because they refuse to make faith into ideology, Catholic dogma into a crutch for their own self-image, or Catholic morality a mere justification for their own hang-ups. The world needs more of you to live without shame and without compromise.

May God be with all of you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

God's blessings