A Clean Slate

My father went to Catholic school and was raised in the Catholic faith. My mother was brought up in the Episcopalian faith, as were my brothers and I. We lived in a number of interesting places around the world growing up as Army brats and were exposed to a variety of religions and cultures.

After leaving the Army my father went to work in the private sector for a large multinational. This job kept us on the move as well, though we spent a number of years in a comfortable suburb north of Detroit. This particular area of the state was and continues to be a melting pot of religious and cultural factors. While my early experiences with world religions were characterized by peaceful coexistence, the same could not be said for many who suffered and continue to suffer religious persecution, whether caused by a government or another competing religion or denomination within a particular religion.

I remember wondering as a child if our God was better/stronger/smarter than the other God(s) worshipped by those in neighboring communities, especially after hearing about “holy” wars in history class and after reading the Bible and other historical texts. When asked, most adults would explain that it is the same God, that there is but one God who is worshipped from different perspectives or points of view, but I recall thinking that the explanation was weak and possibly incomplete.

Now that I’ve had a few more years to think about it my present understanding is that there is but one God, one source of Being from which all other differentiations of Being emerge. The trouble is that human beings have almost universally crafted a God in their image and likeness, rather than seeing that it is in fact the reverse.

People have conjured up Gods and spiritual leaders through the ages like Aladdin with his lamp in hopes that they might find spiritual or earthly purpose, meaning, wealth, health or happiness. The net result of such an approach is a world riddled with conflict and abuse: conflict that reaches to the highest level of human function – its patterns of worship – and abuses that touches the most vulnerable of the human race – its children.

All this said, I am deeply disturbed by the many allegations and revelations of sexual abuse within the Catholic church. It appears from the news reports that it is not only pervasive, but it reaches quite high in the organization, yet the Church is scrambling to cover it up, rather than purge it of its diseased and infectious elements and expose the wound to the light and fresh air so that it can heal.

The Pope’s recent retirement is shocking, even to a non-Catholic, and I have to wonder if those in positions of leadership in the Catholic Church will see this as an opportunity of a lifetime to rein in the improprieties, cleanse the church of its more toxic elements and get back to its central business of connecting God to the people and the people to God. Time will tell of course, but if history is a guide, it will take a lot more than a little shock like this to shake such a large organization to its roots.

 

7 thoughts on “A Clean Slate

  • Your writing today has brought to my own mind, many questions, as I was raised a Catholic. I can see only tremendous failure in what the church has allowed to continue within the priests and their personal behaviors. Behavior reflects always one’s Ideals, right? How can anyone let such harm continue, and do nothing about it?? How can one be so negligent about the lost of truth all of these actions bring with them?? This I can not understand, especially within a group which has dedicated itself to God. Humans have the mistaken believe that what can be hidden from other humans can be hidden from God. But when the soul must be weighed, and face itself, nothing can be hidden. Nothing shall be hidden. Better always that we willing change ourselves, as we are given the opportunity.

  • The Pope’s decision to step down was surprise to me but I too am hoping they will use the opportunity to clean up their offering to the world. I was dismayed to read that some of the cardinals were angry over his leaving as they felt it opened the position up to future pressure and scrutiny that here to fore had been viewed as sacrosanct. They’re concerned that the role has lost the protection that the position is divinely ordained. They feel this act has opened the possibility for future recourse of removing a sitting pope from power. I think it’s akin to the difference between a monarchy and a republic. It sounds like a healthy step to me. Time will tell!

  • It seems like the tendency is to cover up, and cover up again, until something comes to light that either destroys the organization or cuts it back so much that it’s power is rather meaningless. This tendency is not just one of religions, but any large human organization. I think it is partially a function that people who desire power are drawn to large organizations for the prospect of power rather than the responsibility that the power entails, but really that is only part of it.
    What is the solution to this problem? I think you hit the nail on the head when you said people created their own god rather than the correct reverse. That messes up everything in a person’s experience from the very beginning, and that’s how you get situations like this.

  • Amen to that! I do believe that the children were meant to have a loving relationship with the Creator not self-righteously walk-out a religion full of rules.

  • Ravi Zacharias, a world renowned apologist summed it up best when he related a quote that said, “I like your Christ, but not so much your Christian.” Because we are human, we are inherently flawed and broken. As such, the actions of a church (or an individual Christian) can be antithetical to Christ- in fact it is the enemy’s fierce goal to corrupt the church and the believer. We are told that the way to combat darkness is to shine the light of truth (John 1:1-1:7) and maintain constant vigilance in studying the word and recalling the wisdom of Proverbs 3 as we interact daily with the world around us.

    Thank-you Greg for your posts, l hope our paths will eventually cross as we each continue to serve (like you, we were an Army family that has lived all over the world and are now working diligently to restore families and the land through http://www.gofarmu.com.

  • Exposing our wounds to the light and fresh air does bring healing and a clean slate. It is good to see how this relates on our individual level.

  • It is amazing how something as horrific as child abuse can go ignored for so long with a conscious and deliberate cover up. We should never sacrifice righteousness for anything in our lives. Once we do, it’s a slippery slope and always leads to the degradation of ourselves and others.

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