I’ve been reading an awful lot of what might be called generically, #MeToo stories, and more specifically #ChurchToo stories. The most recent, and the most powerful, at least subjectively, was Jake Meador’s reflection at Mere Orthodoxy, but then my next browser tab was Erin Manning.
I come away feeling, probably correctly, that it’s past time to stop trying to figure things out, and instead to tend to my own spiritual business. It’s been clear for a long time that I’m not going to figure out all the intricacies of this world and that all my “solutions” will address some problems while introducing others. But long habit leaves me reading widely and voraciously, running stuff up the flagpole (where nobody salutes but neither do they open fire).
It’s enough to make me think my patron saint should be.
The Worst Possible Personal Response, it seems to me, would be “It can’t happen here,” “here” being whatever religious tradition on inhabits at the moment. It probably is happening, right now, somewhere in “here,” and somebody other than the abuser(s) knows (thus enabling the abuse) in the name of keeping the institutional name clean and clear. Denying that is a formula for the kind of catastrophic collapse of faith Rod Dreher suffered after long covering the priestly abuse scandal in Roman Catholicism as a journalist.
If there’s any justice and sanity in the world, some similar collapse of progressive faith should be going on in Hollywood, our self-appointed conscience, which has proven every [expletive deleted] bit as bad, if not worse, than any Christian institution — right down to hypocritical betrayal of all the smooth talk. Just wait: some Hollywood woman who has told her #MeToo story in high dudgeon will turn out to have sexually exploited her own (relative) power, either by inviting the incident on which her story was based (the term “casting couch” was coined because it “worked” for unknowns who wanted to be known) or by abuse of her own subordinates.
The next-to-worst response would be cynicism, assuming that every uttered piety, religious or progressive, is just another means of sexual conquest. I don’t think that’s true (with the exception of 90% of the men who call themselves “feminists”).
“Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of man?” ran the tagline for some superhero radio or TV show decades ago. Well, every so often, I get a glimpse of my own heart. And it’s not entirely pretty in there, but neither is it a complete and total cesspool.
Life is messy, which is another way of saying that any Grand Unified Theory of how the world works is going to be too simple, which is another way of saying that maybe prayer and repentance are needed more than nostrums.
* * * * *
Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.
(Philip K. Dick)
The waters are out and no human force can turn them back, but I do not see why as we go with the stream we need sing Hallelujah to the river god.
(Sir James Fitzjames Stephen)