I was thinking today if I could describe a “formula” or framework for intentional conversations, given the anxieties and fear we face in the world (on one hand) and the call to Christian discipleship [also of course being a practitioner of any wisdom tradition] (on the other hand). Person after person in my parish shares that they feel so angry and confused–and then often numb. That numbness…
What we are experiencing now is no accident, my friends. What we have is the summation of the dark shadow of our culture. This is a cultural manifestation. As best as I see it, the formula would look like this (if we’re honest).
1 + 1+ 1+ 1 + 1= 5 (aka what’s messed up about this all)
1. Worshiping the capitalistic system as though it is the only way to understand how to frame reality–yielding to greed and grasping as a way of life. Why do we only have daily stock market updates and not other updates?
1. Celebrating a sensationalism and a celebrity culture that collapses substance into “sparkle” and shock. See here how our social media/devices can become just tools to convince us what else we should buy to distract ourselves further.
1. A defensive entrenchment of white patriarchal culture that has–in some corners–transmogrified into a warped American Christianism that is convinced that “the church” actually supports a great deal of what Jesus himself condemned. “The Bible says…”
1. A strange praise/celebration of just plain old ignorance that sees knowledge as a threat to established power systems. “If it was good enough for me, it’s good enough for my kids.”
1. A denial/neglect that the Gospel’s call on our life actually entails that we change the way we think/act in the world (a true understanding of a Christian ethic that dares to critique social and economic structures that oppress). “My faith is a private matter…”
As a parish priest, I see these five as key to realize–and to resist. And, by changing/revealing/examining/questioning even one of these, I see the potential for breaking through what Brueggemann described so many times as “psychic numbness,” that perilous situation the prophets spoke against. Don’t waste time just staying angry, start pulling threads, I say. Perhaps our common vocation is untangle this toxic knot with a contemplative awareness that fuels/nurtures a compassionate embodiment.
I wonder: what do you see?