Sunday, March 25, 2012

Rev Daywalker

I have always liked the vampire character. That may be diagnostic, but for the moment we'll leave that to me and my therapist. When I was a priest and trying to deal with my "disordered" sexual desires, I found the image of the vampire oddly comforting. A fellowship, perhaps, between the closet and the coffin.  I even wrote an essay about The Shaman and the Vampire which, several decades later, I am hesitant to find and read. But the gist of it was that from the daylight world, the vampire was easily read as a curse. Within the nocturnal world, however, it was possible to see him as the carrier of shadowy truths which diurnal minds could not allow themselves to admit.

I was (am?) a man who would prefer to earn his salvation by performance rather than receive it as a gift. And was, and am still, a man who believes in keeping certain kinds of rules. Not out of a passion for righteousness, but from love of order. That insoluble chink in my armor, the vulnerable spot in my heel, tended to soften me a bit, slow me down just a little, open me now and again to the possibility of grace and compassion.  In some ways it made me a better pastor than I would otherwise have been.

Pope Benedict has described the presence of gays in the priesthood as a hardship for the Church. Well, as a group, we both did a lot of good and a lot of damage. But then, which group doesn't? (That's not evidence for an argument, just an observation.) Aside from the pros or cons of a particular gay man, when the priesthood either becomes or is perceived to be gay-dominated, for most men that translates as a further feminization of an already problematically feminine Christian ethos.

Which makes me think of the Jesuits.

Watching a documentary on Ignatius Loyola and the Jesuits --looking for the yet undiscovered reason to understand their attraction-- the narrator described the pre-conversion Ignatius as typical of the upper class men of 16th century Spain: passionately Catholic and very religious, but not inclined to translate that into what Christian morality usually calls for: forgiveness, forbearance, limitation. To my ear, this sounded like the natural clash of Christianity and classical manhood. The Mediterranean world has often been very tolerant of this dissonance. And when Ignatius took his masculine drives into religion, he created an order of men with a kind of military structure and spirit who sublimated male aggression into aggressive action on behalf of the Roman Church.

The older religious orders were typically open both to men and women. Separate branches of a tree. All the Benedictine monastic groups, the regular canons, and the medieval mendicants like the Franciscans and Dominicans, both friars and nuns. (The Franciscans carried a noticeable feminine energy: the primacy of affect. Dominicans, on the other hand, were devoted to the Apollonian worlds of philosophy and theology.)  But there were never any groups of Jesuettes. And even though their masculine energy has been muted by the general cultural mess of our time and their foolish romance with "social justice", they remain to this day an all-male (and hugely sacerdotal) enterprise.

I wonder if any of the liberal Jesuits who favor ordaining women have pondered how unrecognizable their order would become if they opened their own Company of Jesus to female members...

Semi-free association. Started out with vampires, and look where I end up. The mind is a labyrinth.


Anonymous said...

Do you mean that your love of order tended to open you to the possibility of grace and compassion for you from others, or from you for others, or both?

I suppose you mean from you for others, since you say that you were made a better pastor by this openness, and realistically speaking pastors minister grace and compassion, although a leading theme of most M.Div. agitprop is that clergy are always finding that they are minister'd to by the laity, and this discovery is liberating, humbling, enriching, etc etc (as though perhaps the greatest among us is minister'd to after all, contrary to Dominical admonition or perhaps rather Dominical prudential advice).

Intriguing that you would rather earn your salvation rather than receive it as a gift. (To each his own performance psychodrama, I guess.) But then our Lord advises in the Beatitudes to attain salvation or at least beatitude by one's own doings and not doings.

(Always curious that Erasmus didn't bring in the Beatitudes and karma -- cause and effect; reaping what one sows, etc -- against Luther. So easy to establish "works righteousness" by Jesus' words, including faith (which Luther, now that I think of it, deems the work that saves, following John 6:29). (I guess it is really Calvin, who pretends not to know where [John 6:29] occurs in the Bible, that has fix'd the meaning of 'salvation by faith' vs works in our assumptions.)

On the other hand, your love of order requires you to receive grace or the possibility of grace -- order as grace? -- I suppose as a gift. ... Tohu naturally wants to earn his own salvation, but needs or even loves Bohu but as otherness -- entering via a chink in his performance. What does Bohu feel about this arrangement? Gives her something to do while complaining that she is coerced by social relations to be a drudge, never getting to have a life of her own, I daresay.

Yet according to the Elohist source, most needful vis-a-vis this arrangement isn't more Tohu or more Bohu but "Let there be light."

Anonymous said...

In a rather different direction, I wonder if your bafflement at fascination for the Society of Jesus results according to the factors set forth inJungian typology.

For an INT who moreover consciously feels order occurs externally to his psyche the busyness of any practical organization -- e.g. reforming the Church via the principle of rigorous obedience -- could not be very interesting. The Society used institutional power to steamroll over Augustinian psychology upheld by the Jansenists and supported by the psychological subtlety of Blaise Pascal, whom Nietzsche deem'd the greatest European event until himself.

The paradoxes of Augustine, the enthusiasms of the Franciscan spirituals, and the innumerable additional richnesses of the pre-CounterReformation Church admittedly could not have seem'd useful to Ignatius bent on restoring the Christian things still superintended, sort-of, by the pope and the bishops in communion with him c.1530. Treating the Church purely as a power institution may have been suggested to him by the writings of Machiavelli.

Yet as Nietzsche was to observe in contempt before the shallow Machiavelli tradition, "Power makes stupid."

Super-capable efficient organizers and re-organizers inevitably tend to remove all sense of purpose. Any paradox not susceptible of resolution in a four-week retreat under the Spiritual Exercises must be written off as useless to the Church and to the soul. This is Bohu unrestrain'd by any concern for substance or essence -- but then she has insisted on not owning substance at all: it's an imposition from Tohu.

Something similar in Calvin and especially in Calvinism. Getting on with the busyness of sanctifying the world to God. No wonder Bach's music comes from Luther and the Bible, not Calvin and biblicism. There never would have been Calvin without Luther, but not vice versa. On the other hand, the greater political-economic sanity of Calvin can be seen in comparison of Anglo-Saxony with Catholic-and-Lutheran Germany.

Accordingly, this INF would give to the organizer types their due -- Jesuits, Calvinists et al. Yet they should recognize that formalist Bohu cannot generate substance and in fact will routinize substance or meaningfulness to emptiness. She needn't be infinitely patient with Tohu: if the Roman structures were going to remain, and the pope would not summon an ecumenical reform council in the absence of a Catholic substance to replace Luther's, someone self-appointed needed to do something or anything, and Ignatius Loyola was that.

But power is always only an instrumentality, never a for its own sake. Letting an institution's power instincts run free is a negligence that must end in emptiness, purposelessness (KJV "void" js922 BHW). Just as Kierkegaard's tohu renewal our formalist academics have reduced to "Kierkegaard studies" bohu, cf the Jesuits 'ratio studiorum' which Aquinas would have mock'd, and exploited.

I guess, though, that sympathetic observer Paul Tillich is probably correct that the Catholic Church never recover'd her medieval glories after Unigenitus more or less suppress'd Augustine (A History of Christian Thought, from its Judaic and Hellenistic Origins to Existentialism, p. 222). ... The renewal of piety in the RCC came not from S.J. busyness but from Spanish mysticism (the second wave from Spain, following Ignatius Loyola; and then Cervantes' Don Quixote, the third Spanish wave) and Redemptorists and the innumerable additional RC things that I don't know anything about, but also which today's Catholics also seem not to know anything about!

Sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum, jpnill

Anonymous said...

BTW, re "essentially deformed" in your earlier posting that »What I have found unacceptable is to believe that when I care deeply for another man and express that love physically, the best I have to offer, in a way, it is essentially deformed.« I see that the first week of Ignatian Spirituality is devoted to "deformata reformare."

I'm not sure if a beginning can be made in reforming the deform'd: isn't an undertaking more complete required, namely repentance? Does sin and its consequences result only in a deformation of human nature? Mis-characterization or de-formatting is destiny I don't doubt (the bondage of the will in sin). But isn't the originator of the mis-characterization or de-forming is the heart, according to the Psalms and the Prophets?

A mere reforming of deformation could be sent forth in Calvinism too, for all I can guess.

Conforming the reform'd deformation in the second week of Ignatian Spirituality to the Kingdom of Christ doesn't ensure that repentance of the original sinning is attain'd, does it? ... So also the third week (confirming the conform'd) and the fouth week (transforming the confirm'd). All this form shifting may result in substantive change or repentance, but I don't see that this is specify'd. ... A sinful will cannot be actuated towards real pursuit of perfection. A (re-)beginning in repentance and baptism (Matthew 3:1) must be made, mustn't it? WWAS?

(What Would Augustine Say?)

P.S. No doubt you are correct re accepting that your erotic love is "essentially deformed" "Very hard to maintain much self-respect in that kind of paradigm, try as you might." But then you add, don't you?, that really that this applies to all erotic love in sinful humans: "As I have said before, my sexual misdeeds come from the fact that I am human, not that I am gay."

In the strong era of Christianity, that is, Augustinian Christianity, one was ask'd to decide between love of one's self and contempt of God (city of man) and love of God and contempt of one's self (city of God). Admittedly, self-contempt for sin is usually arrived at illicitly -- one despises oneself for not being as talented as one's sister-in-law or as smart as one's cousin, etc, or for being overweight and so on, and one offers such 'low self image' to God as repentance and so forth. And then some people are able to bounce along in Christian institutions with an illicit good self image (smart, rich, talented, successful, hetero, etc).

Anonymous said...

Maybe the most obtuse falsehood of post-Freudian conservative Christians is that Christianity's tentative approval of marriage is pass'd off as a celebration of sexuality -- and LGBTA reasonably object on grounds that this fails to celebrate homosexuality.

I suppose originally the dread that any youngster felt for his 'sodomitical' urges was a 'negatively privileged' condition since in the more or less educated classes it was preparation for induction into the higher ouranian love. Very difficult for us today to fathom that not so long ago misogyny and ouranian eros made 'breeders' the despised sexual gender among men. But my sense is that this arrangement prevails today in many an Islamic culture, where western style gay rights are condemn'd and western style gay men are in danger of judicial execution, floggings, etc, but where the atmosphere is heavily homoerotic.

Western traditionalists for example Fustel de Coulanges look on enviously, and build up male pride in boys on grounds that since boys should believe that they are better than girls. Which inevitably will mean that love between men must be better than love between a man and a woman. ... guess in envy of the higher love introduced in paiderastia decided women to accept improvementing love between the sexes (Nietzsche, letter to Erwin Rhode 23 May 1876). But this improvement could be rejected, cf C.S. Lewis, SBJ chapter 6 "Bloodery"). ...

Women considering Plato's stating of the Symposium may have felt indignant that women were entirely excluded from this allegedly complete discussion of Eros by homoerotic males only. But then inclusion includes sharing the karmic tab. Perhaps it's preferable to accept exclusion and subjection.

Anonymous said...

Re: "The mind is a labyrinth." A labyrinth is a terrible thing to waste.

Re: "the famous 'sin and sinner' distinction" (in earlier post): Nietzsche in Twilight of the Idols declares that the distinction between cause and effect (I assume re karmic selfing) is false, on grounds that a cause is a cause only by causing, by effecting. Absolving a sinner from his sin would be to deprive a cause of his effect or to undo his effect -- which is to reduce the sinner to zilch.

This is not to say that a sinner can't be loved, or that his sin can't be hated and forgiven, but all this negating or hating and forgiveness can't occur apart from the sinner, who thus must repent of having sin'd (cf Heidegger, What is Called Thinking? p. 105). Barth dismisses repentance when he maintains in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans that sin or idolatry ("Esau") is necessary so that grace ("Jacob" the annihilation of idolatry) can have something to negate. ... Nietzsche places Darwinian post-Christian European man on the "Sin boldly" rocketsled and advises us not to contain the wastelands that result.

Nietzsche anticipates that European Selfs won't return to Christianity when confronting an apparent necessity for reverence in selfing. ...

Islam doesn't forgive sins but only provides a spurious mercy, and doesn't require repentance exactly, only a sort of technical forbearance from idolatry and polytheism, including Christianity's trinitarian doctrine, not to mention the unity of the two natures in the Son (which Barth also rejects, or rather proposes to "adopt" sc in the Son via a divinity that does not reveal but "encloses humanity inside the itself": The Humanity of God, pp. 49f)

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