Monday, May 21, 2012


This blog is taking a Rest.

May the Author of Rest guide and protect the persecuted sisters.

Peace be with you.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Big Tent

Do you believe it?  I hardly believe it!  Bishops run amok...  The meddling in politics.  The meddling in service organizations.  The meddling in speakers or thinkers at any RCC college or sisterhood or... The meddling in bedrooms.  The meddling.... 

Today's Vatican hierarchy looks like:  A bunch of busy-bodies!

The need for turning over of tables in the Temple has never been greater!  Due to RCC bishops' need to look under every table.  And inside Mother Church's every skirt!  Dictating.  Dictating.  
Dick - Tating!    (Yes... you read that right.)

Whatever happened to the Big Tent?  Christianity as whole.  The Big Tent.  With a simple rule of faith, its tenets functioning like tent posts.  Its boundary lines,  The creed

So I picture this Big Tent.  All of the baptized.  With the creed as our basic commonality for gathering under the Tent.  The Gospel as our guide.  And beyond that... REALLY, we should allow a flourishing!

And the tent is pitched in this wonderful pasture...  Why try and control the pasture???  Let the sheep graze!  Where they willCouple up with whom they will.  Live as they will.  Let them listen to the speakers they will.  Read/write as they will.  Think as they will!   
Follow the Gospel.  Without hindrance!   

I am so, so tired of busybodies...  men dressed in absurd feminine clothing - hectoring like so many schoolmarms run-amok!  It's getting old.  It's getting tiring.  And it looks not only silly - but ridiculous.  Bordering on insane!

Can we have some sanity now, please?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mirror, Mirror on the Vatican Wall...

Have you ever wondered about those civilizations that suddenly vanished?  Those ruins that show up in the middle of a jungle maybe.  Whole cities with temples and buildings and roads.  All covered with vines and monkeys, maybe some parrots.  And no people!  A whole civilization gone.  A whole population vanished.  Culture, religion, civil institutions... all gone.

And you wonder... how did that come about?  What factors were behind the decline of this civilization?  Did it happen all of a sudden?  Or did they have warning signs?

Have there ever been people who actually wanted a decline?  Could a desire like that get out of hand?

"Smaller.... purer...."    Where have I heard that before? 

It's this latter desire, I think, that is a warning sign.  Could even be a sign of coming decline

Here's my fantasy:
You know that childhood fairytale.  The one where the witch has a magic mirror.  And she looks into it... wanting to be assured that she is the fairest of them all.  But, unfortunately the mirror tells her the truth.  Which puts her on the warpath.  
Well, my image is of the bishops and cardinals and pope.  Each of them, so full of ... something, that they need to wear these really fancy outfits.  Ones that are getting more and more fancy all the time.  Strange, weird costumes.  Very costly ones, I might add!  
So I picture all these people... needing to look into a mirror...  Often
If only there were a magic mirror - that would tell these people the Truth!
But, you have to ask yourself, at this point in the story:  What is the Question?  Do they ask if they're the "fairest"?  I doubt it.  Do they ask if they look like a candidate for "next pope"?  Maybe.

Here's what I picture:
"Mirror, mirror on the wall.... Who's the purest of us all?"
Each one of the pure hands, fancy dress club, especially the ones special enough to ordain others (to pure hands).   Especially those who get to vote the next White-Garbed Pope.  Each one clothed so weirdly... looking into the mirror,  all hoping to become the one.
I call it the purity trapCuz, one by one, they don't get the answer they're looking for.  Instead, the mirror shows them nothing but tarnish or else pure nothingness shining brightly... So they all begin to vie with each other.
Do you have any idea what happens when a big bunch of people have a lot of status and power and you gather them all together?  I've seen it in colleges and universities.  All chiefs and no Indians.
So, each of them, tries to become more and more pure.  Indeed most pure.  They vie for being the most doctrinaire.  Or maybe for sporting the purest gold or the purest silk.  Saying the purest Latin.  Giving the purest dictates for more and more control of the faithful.
And little by little they exclude one another - indeed everyone they deem less pure.  
There's no end to it!  There's no end to the purity trap.  No end.  
The supposed search for purity of orthodoxy or could be orthodoxy of purity just trails off, I think, like the ending of Psalm 1.
One of those lost civilizations...

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Hubris and Risk Management

Now you might think, from the title, that this is a post related to the stock market or hedge funds or banks losing billions.   But you'd be wrong.  It's actually about hubris in another area entirely.  But the insight, yes, came when I was reading a brilliant blog, which I'd describe as hedging for dummies.

As I was reading,  a little light bulb came on:  All of life is basically risk management. From cradle to grave we're learning.  How to do this or that - without making a mess or toppling over.  School.  Career.  Marriage.  Parenting.  Same thing.  Till we get to old age when suddenly we go into reverse gear, maybe needing a cane or a walker.  All to manage risk.

Now risk management, I've concluded, relates to unpredictability.  Trying to manage that or reduce it if possible.  If something is totally in the hands of one person, you've reduced the risk of having to negotiate decisions, but you may magnify risks, if you have failed to consult those you're trying to manage.  On the other hand, the more people who are involved, the more difficult the decision-making process, but the greater likelihood those involved will sign on to the decision.

This insight not only explains one's own life.  It explains everything.  Suddenly I can see why politics is so polarized.  It gives us insight into history.  We see, for example, St. Paul concerned about "factions"- urging people to cooperate - presumably to reduce the risk of his little churches breaking up.  Once upon a time, for example, the Catholic Church insisted that everywhere in the world Masses would be in Latin.  Similar strategy to what Paul was doing.  Probably for the same reasons.

So where does hubris come into this?  Let's go back to that blog I read:  The Tale Of A Whale Of A Fail.  JP Morgan Chase just lost 2 billion dollars (and counting) due to one big risk management trader (they call him a whale due to his HUGE financial bets).  This guy apparently backed himself (and Chase) into a corner they can't get out of.  Not till all the hedging contracts he bought and sold expire...  And no one knows the ultimate outcome here, since the market for such contracts has now dried up.  Something they never expected!  Due to hubris - since they believed they had a sure bet (and the market cornered) to make a bundle of billions!  Except their bet was so big other people noticed... and took precautions (risk management!).  And now no one will help them get out of the corner they've backed themselves into.

I think something very similar is happening in Rome.  Let's take a look:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Enforcer of Conformity

Interesting description of a public figure.  Especially in today's world.  If you hear such a description, who springs to mind?

Actually, I read the term here.  But you might easily have wondered if you'd find it here.

One thing is for sure.  You will not find it here!  And that's because you won't find it here.

Current events are challenging us.  Questioning us.  Jesus was comfortable enough to pose the question:  Who do you say I am?  

It is instructive to use our own answers to that question.  As a measure.  Of any leader.  We might choose.  To follow. 

My own answers?  For long.  For shortFor starters...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Vatican, Take a Lesson from Exxon's Mistakes!

A little light bulb went on for me this morning, when I read an article at Reuters, analyzing how Exxon's corporate "religion" and bullying tactics are now affecting its bottom line:

Insight: When the Exxon way stops working

It's instructive to read the article and see the many ways in which the Vatican hierarchy is caught in the same trap, down to the insistence on all dressing alike and maintaining inherited corporate dogma - despite changing times and against all obstacles (it tries to squelch - rather than adapt to).  

Here are some conclusions the Vatican resists (just like Exxon):
"The game has changed. You can't act like you have all the power anymore," said the chief executive officer of a close competitor.
 Or as Joe Tatusko, fund manager ... who holds Exxon stock, put it: "You have to share".
In a section of the article, Reuters calls, "THE RELIGION OF COMPLIANCE," Exxon's way of doing things rings so reminiscent of the Vatican:

That buttoned-down culture, underpinned by a disciplined, top-down management system, has long been credited with making the company the most efficient operator in the business: strict standardization means it can employ the same business approach around the world and save money.

Its uniformity of thinking extends even to dress sense - the CEO of one rival oil firm joked that male Exxon staff invariably turn up for meetings in blue suits, white shirts and red ties.
Sticking to the "compliance manual" (so to speak) the Vatican (and Exxon) have put themselves in straight jackets.  But every time the straight jacket effect kicks in, the "obstacle" they are trying to squelch into submission is blamed, rather than the antiquated "compliance manual" itself.'m thinking of the proverbial "monkey trap" where a piece of food is left in a jar.  A jar a monkey can put a hand into.  But the jar opening is so narrow that only an empty hand fits.  Once the monkey gets hold of the food, however, it will not let go.  So, like the Vatican, like Exxon, the monkey is stuck!  An angry monkey, because it can't retrieve what it wants and it refuses to let go.  

Monday, May 7, 2012


There are certain unwritten rules in life. Children learn them. They even become obsessed with rules in the early grades. And one of the main reasons for fights during recess has to do with the keeping of rules, whether or not the rules have been broken, and what the rules really are.

Have you ever punched someone? Yes, it's wrong to do that! But I will honestly own up to one instance of socking a boy, after he called my mother a name.  I was the very obedient child of an extremely strict and punitive mother. But that boy had broken a cardinal rule! A rule I hadn't really known I'd known till I found myself slugging the kid. And then I ran like crazy! Because his sister was after me.

The rule? Do not publicly shame a kid by calling their mother a name!

Now, I think it's exactly this kind of rule that the Vatican broke. Which has led to an outpouring of nun-support the likes of which the good sisters never saw coming!

You see, no matter how strict the nuns ever were, they were our nuns! Our teachers. Our mentors. And the public shaming that constitutes this nun-quiz-ition has put many of us on a war path we did not know we knew till we were already a part of it.

Now, my mind tends to work with metaphors. And the metaphor that's come to mind, from my childhood, is baseball. Mind you, I don't really follow baseball. But I do drive past a baseball stadium every time I go back and forth to my little Eastern Orthodox haven of peace. (One more refugee from the reverse-gear, Benni-bent, self-perpetuating, roman circus. Call me any name you like. Just don't cast aspersion on the good sisters!) But I digress...

Friday, May 4, 2012

LCWR Sisters and the Way Forward

Here's what I think underlies this Vatican attack on the  LCWR sisters.  Vatican II happens.  (I remember it well.)  The nuns, as called to do, open their convent doors, put on some ordinary clothes, and go out into the world to see what the needs might be.  Out there, they found a world of hurt.  Pondering what they saw and felt - in the light of the Gospels - they set out to be the Heart and Hands of JESUS in a hurting world.

They likely found that, disguised as ordinary people, they had to let go of all the exaggerated obeisance nuns in religious garb had been receiving.  But at the same time they found the letting go of that opened doors.  Into people's hearts and minds.  Into the dark corners of society, where the hurt was deepest.

Along comes the sexual abuse crisis.  The nuns respond to that too!  Because, after all, WWJD?

Oops!!!!  Somewhere in the Vatican a fissure began to emerge methinks.  All the centuries of covering up, all the cardinals and bishops, vowed to go along to get along.  All the priests currying favor in order to move up the career track.  All these folks could SEE that the sisters were following a different drummer.  A drummer that counted victims and women and gay people as, well PEOPLE!!  People who deserved the attention of Jesus, which is exactly what the sisters believed they were called to SEE and minister to.

So we have these two very different roads that were being followed.

The Vatican CAREER TRACK.  Open only to men.  Men in special clothing - reminiscent of women.  A track which seems to have veered further and further from Vatican II - due to the absolute terror, it would seem, of people (like the good nuns) simply following the Gospels wherever they led.  I can imagine these "career" hierarchs feeling like they were in a canoe which was headed for rapids and there was NO WAY they were going on that perilous journey!  Fear.  It all comes down to fear, I think.  And the failure to listen to Jesus, who told the scared disciples:  "Fear not."

Meanwhile, the nuns continue on their journey...  Into the unknown.  Holy Mystery.  A journey which the hierarchs have mostly abandoned; instead the Vatican (and its minions) begin reversing course. Looking backward.  Assuming that the path "forward" is to paddle back upstream as fast as they can.  They enlist others to their cause.  Allying with the Opus.  Etc.  (You know the story...)

So now we have two journeys going on.  And any metaphors you find better than mine, I'm open to.  But it amounts to people following the Spirit's call, as Abraham did, to leave the "known" and journey into the "unknown" - scary as that might feel.  It's the journey each of us is called to.  Individually.  And corporately.  You can read it in Genesis and Exodus.  That's one journey.  And the second is unlike it.  It amounts to turning back.  As if Abraham had turned back.  Or Moses had listened to the grumbling people, rather than to God, and he had gone back to Egypt.  (Again, I'm open to other metaphors.)

But basically, the journey backwards, going upstream, against the current, requires a lot more "manpower" (or could be woman-power) than the one downstream.  Downstream, even if the stream is in flood and it looks very scary, you're in the River of Life - you're in touch with all of humanity.  Which indeed is what Jesus was doing.  Immersing himself in the humanity of his times.  (While the priestly cast - and its adherents - were carefully avoiding the dregs and the dirt and whatever they viewed as "impure" and doctrinally unkosher.)