The Conflict



What were you doing when your life had urgency? When life seemed exciting? In the morning. When there was real traffic flow, outside of the rush hours?


In the morning. Of light and movement. Of climate change. Global warming. Global dimming.

Ugency upon waking to get to work. But first the news. The urgency of ….The urgency of Henry Paulson for the last 4 months. The urgency of Christopher Cox at the SEC.

Global warming: Was it the result of avoiding suffering? The result of air conditioning? The result of cars and trucks? The result of heating spaces. Global dimming. Was its result on sunlight one affect of all these airplanes? And this affect on water evaporation?

Global dimming was as big a threat as global warming. They both are now affecting everyone. There was urgency. Like an urgency of hunger. Or of love.

Global warming: A lot of the world, the emancipated world, does not think it is wrong to turn up the air conditioner. To get drunk and drive. To do drugs. To stay warm. To avoid suffering. Or to avoid another child.

“Give me chastity. But just not right now.” That was the prayer of St. Augustine. He had a wild youth. Which was why his mother, Monica, was later canonized.

Trying to convince a kid it is wrong to have sex. To advise a son, a daughter. To stay away from someone who appeared to be evil. A lot of the world, the emancipated world, does not think sex, free sex, is wrong. Either in or outside of a relationship. So there is the conflict. Whether government belongs in the debate? Whether a religious body does? When there is national health insurance. When there is welfare. When the community was fitting the bill? With group insurance. With tax money. With the law.

“Give me chastity. Right now!” That was the prayer of the popes for the last thousand years. To all the clergy. Male and female. The real story of late was gender wars in all the secular world over the last 100 years, and humankind’s struggle with their own independence. The struggle with sex. As an adult men and women. With relationships, with each other, with your God, how to convey to the next generation the seriousness of life, the seriousness of sex and passion, and the seriousness of fertility? After the gender wars? Why should the church be immune? Intermixing the struggle on gender roles in the Church of Rome, the same gender wars in all the secular world was found in church, in discussion with living females on church issues of the day. In the mix of innocence, or purity, of sacrifice, amidst the green house gasses. Note the difficulty for guys with miters, ruling in an institution never particularly inclusive in leadership decisions for either women or married men.

“Conflict is in fact the basic law of life in all social organisms, as it is of all biological ones; societies are formed, gain strength, and move forwards through conflict; the healthiest and most vital of them assert themselves against the weakest and less well adapted through conflict; the natural evolution of nations and races takes place through conflict.” -Alfredo Rocco-

The realness … of God. The realness … of global dimming. The realness … of institutional sexism. Father Ray Bourgois was just excommunicated over the issue of urgency, over real prejudices which, he believed, were just as evil as racial prejudice. Ray Bourgois knew canon law. He knew, as well as Martin Luther knew, that his action would result in excommunication. He saw a kind of religious bigotry. The realness of life.

I was going to be in the most important church I ever prayed at in my life. On Sunday. On the college campus where I had spent 4 years. When the music of the St. Louis Jesuits had been new and heard for the first time by their companions a few hundred miles away. With readings about callings, where disciples were not asked to abandon their wives and families. Rather, Jesus settled down with his followers, and made Capernaum his home. Capernaum was in the territory of Herod Antipas which apparently was much more friendly to fishermen, than Herod Phillip. Working people, pragmatic young people, were all looking for places a little more friendly to the problems of the times. Normal people. His followers became his family.

In the end, what were you doing when your life had urgency? When life seemed exciting? When there was a realness of urgency?

So your sense of urgency. But in your hopes to move with great speed, did you know of the increased traffic in the world over the last 15 years asthe world population of cars since 1994 has grown from 550 million to about 880 million? In the internet age, you could not go so fast?

And why should the church be immune? With old vehicles and old priests? Who would replace them? In the slowdown, for those with expiration dates?

Bishops having to convince an adult he was recruiting that it was wrong to marry in his life. That there was a need for suffering, in a form of celibacy. Avoid the easy way. Find the mystery in this small sense of suffering. When your job was offering care to people. Spiritual care. With physcial exercise, you sweated but you felt good. No short cuts. Just do it. Then see what you think. When all of this was voluntary. The draft. The all volunteer spiritual army. For national service. So exactly how generous were you? With your money? With your life? But you could not have a spouse.

The readings this Sunday were about urgency. The urgency of callings … to change the world.

The difficulty to ask a young man to work for this institution with such apparent prejudices, however he felt called to serve His God. In a world that happened so fast, when not many popes lately had setttled in with his own followers and their problems, running a church 2000 years old, even when you were infallible, there was a still sense of urgency.

This was the real world. Where life seemed exciting. The urgency to communicate again, in the real world, about this God. The married and the unmarried. Men and women. But for those with real institutional prejudice.

Before the people here were allowed to lose a sense of excitement about God that the people of Europe seem to have lost over the past generation. For people who lost a sense of excitement. When religion became too much of a job. Too unreal with the everyday world. When the urgency was lost.

And when no one talked about it?

In a world where no one talked much about God. And His suddenness. And the “now what” question for Him. About all of this?

Global dimming was as big a threat as global warming. But it was the suddenness of all of this that was the crisis.


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