Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Dicastery Deans, Like Leopards, Don’t Change Their Spots

By the way, in little bleeps of newscasts daily, have we noticed that our tip-toe-through-the-tulips Papa is regressing to his deanship of a certain dicastery? Actually, he never left the CDF, while trying on the wardrobes in papal closets. Especially of late, though, and oh! so quietly, in his selections of cardinalabile of a righteous persuasion like Raymond Burke of St. Louis, the persecutor of Poles and disbarrer of canon lawyers, the reiteration of Paul VI's advice to the marrieds, personal embarrassment over sexual scandals of a sacerdotal kind from a minority hushed and coddled by hierarchs, but none over costumes of the "best and the brightest" in Christendom, himself. Guess he wouldn't sort of go for postmodernism, would he? I kind of liked that fuzzy white stuff under the Arabian rug red stuff over his shoulders. What do you call them? Shawls? Dainty shoulder pads? Fuzzy wuzzies?

Reminded me of Nan, the pretty girl on the vegetable counter at the Uphams Corner Market in Dorchester, Massachusetts. I worked the fish counter on Fridays, filleting mackerel and forking gurry, meats on Saturdays, chopping pork chops, trimming roasts, and peeking over at vegetables a lot all weekend long. Took me six weeks to get up the nerve to ask her to our high school prom. She wore one of those fuzzy white shoulder things over her gown. Hers shed. All over my rented tux. And I was embarrassed at 16. But, I never yanked her license to be, nor lectured her about contraception, either. No teenagers of our time were banned from receiving Communion, like governors and senators are today, because of biology or sex stuff or hanging out with Moonies and Tibetan monks.

Ah! We were innocent then, an innocence hierarchs know nothing about. In the outer reaches of the atmosphere wherein they all breathe and move and have their oligarchical beings, bedecked with gowns from dark and middle ages of another era, befingered with rings gleaming their immense wealth even in the flickering light of candles, bechested, too, with golden chains and crosses, behatted with funny looking headpieces never doffed, befooted on designer shoes trembling up on tiptoe to add cubits to their littleness, in order to look around and check their own fabricated stature against the status and ranking of other prelates, always alone with just each other hanging in there, they are an embarrassment to earthlings. I really think that they have no concept at all about what a human being is. Or is meant to be. The glitter sets them apart as another species of beings.

Now, while we welcome Neural Buddhism as a newcomer to our postmodernity, we should be cautious and remember to begin with the Sutras. In the Buddha's case, none were written down until a few hundred years after his death, much more prolifically than our own meager scriptures. Easterners are swarming in volumes and volumes of scriptures, compared to our own little New Testament, swelled some if one adds in the Old one. Toss in the Qur'an, too, and Middle Eastern holy writ still lags far behind Far Eastern.

Which brings up another rankling question: How come we have no scriptures being written today and have to spend so much time studying those written down thousands of years ago? After, of course, a hundred years or more of oral tradition handed down from grandparents to parents, mother to daughter, father to son, lover to lover, friend to friend. Scriptures are always written in languages whose nuances we have trouble figuring out, so much so that we're not sure that the people of those times even understood what was being read to them. We kind of get mixed up between exegesis and hermeneutics.

No Buddhas around now? Would God dare try incarnation again? On the grounds that we really missed it the first time around and could benefit from a second try? In one of those postmodern daring and courageous thoughts, could we logically, rationally, faith-fully turn that whole descent from heaven around the other way and explore our life now, in 2008 and the years yet to come, the way Jesus showed us back then in the first century? Suppose we started talking and writing that we are called to Indivination, taking on godness, as God took on humanity in the Incarnation.

Why not? Everyone could try that: Left, Right, Middle, Inside, Outside. St. Paul subtly told us: "I live now, yet not I. Christ truly lives in me. -Iam vivo, sed non ego. Vivit vero in me Christus." And yet, were we to talk like that, write like that, -- God forbid! act like that -- someone is sure to go looking for our heads, if not our licenses to be and to think and to share. That someone is usually a Dean of a Dicastery, a Hierarch, a Pope, or one of their clones. Banned and barred is the excommunication of today, a bit less torturous and tortuous than the stake and fire of holy inquisitions.

Despite the news of papal primacy, still going on strong in its third millennium, some of us think it's OK now to share as well as pay, think as well as pray, dare as well as obey. It is good to be fully human, fully alive, friends with God. Reach out to a hierarch and invite him to come along.


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