10 Feb 2019
You ask me, in effect, what can one do in our society, given the problems.
I will write more later, but here is a first answer:
One thing comes to mind immediately: community need not now be limited by space-time. Because of the internet and availability of resources (such as classics from the past), the community may well take non-traditional forms. There are some things that the local community can provide—such as the kinds of socializing and friendships your children need. There are goods that can be provided only by means of a wider reach (as through the internet) and especially drawing from resources in the past.
Second, did you read my most recent posting, “Do no harm”? I am asking if my criticisms of the institutional church, especially, do more harm than good. I may copy part of the conclusion in my longer response, but for now suffice it to note that many in the pews, who could be hurt, are not putting forth sufficient effort in their own spiritual lives. They have been lazy and passive. Yes, they will be hurt But one cannot force them to be free (playing on a famous phrase from Rousseau’s Social Contract). I’ll develop the thought later.
Third, genuine faith (fides caritate formata, faith enlivened by charity) is always needed. Institutional religion does not require or build much genuine faith. Each much make the effort. (“You yourselves must make the effort,” declares the Buddha in the Dhammapada, “the Tathagatha is only a teacher.” You ask, “To whom shall we go?” Well, you asked it in the right context: to the living Christ (not an institutionalized Christ). The living Christ is the inner light. If we will not attend to that light, for whatever reason, what can be done?
Fourth, although I may be wrong, I think that the institutional church, though not all bad, has been highly corrupt, and seems to be imploding in our present day. The community of the faithful needs to endure. I am not convinced that the hierarchy, as it developed historically (bishops—priests—deacons) is any longer the best or a viable solution. The problem is not with the teachings, nor with the Sacraments per se, but with human beings for whom power and position and privilege “go to their head.” I run into one case of this problem after another. And many lay persons are waking up to it. That is why one may say, “Gentlemen, the game is over.”
Fifth, what should one do? On that I shall think, and respond in a second note. If you do not mind, I will develop my response to you (without personal comments, which are unnecessary), and post it online. Your situation is by no means unique. In fact, you are voicing what I have heard, in various ways (less articulate than yours) over the past number of years. And we are hearing a crescendo of troubled voices. What is to be done?
On a personal note, I am not surprised that your response has been to be bothered by more criticisms of the institutional church. I have heard similar responses from a traditionalist friend in Ohio as well. Traditionalistic clergy would dismiss my thinking as “liberal,” which is superficial at best. Your experience in the church and mine have been very different. I have seen far too much to keep silent. Nor do I have a family to tend, and want to believe that the church may offer genuine assistance to them. It may, and it may well harm them. More on all of this later, unless I find nothing useful to say.
Peace in Christ,
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