Monday, September 24, 2012

sorrowing for the much-beloved

Last night, I got irritable and sent a note to the seller of a book I had ordered, "The Theology of Fear." I had gotten an email saying the book should arrive on the 19th and here it was the 23rd.

Not that I actually want the book so much, but I had told the author, the Rev. Emmett Coyne, that I would read it and see what I could do to get it reviewed and or at any rate review it myself either on Amazon or elsewhere. Reading is not my best thing these days, but I said I would so ... where the hell is my book?

The book itself appears to be a part of a growing chorus of dissent from within, a plaint and plea from the ranks of the Roman Catholic Church. Coyne, at 73, has been a priest for about 50 years, so he is not just some hysterical teenager pointing out a recent discovery that the world is full of hypocrisy. The church -- Coyne's church -- is suffering from arteriosclerosis, a disease in which the arteries that once pumped nourishment to the body become worn and constricted and the life of the patient is threatened as the heart tries to do more with less.

If I get it correctly -- and mind you, the book has not yet arrived -- Coyne plays the role of the doctor who knows that in order to correct a problem, the problem must first be seen with unblinking and unblinkered eyes. Personal preference is not the point ... the point is to acknowledge and assess the problem and then consider ways of either fixing it or calling the undertaker: Some things can be repaired; some things need to die.

Coyne's bad-boy status within the church (he does have a meeting coming up with his superiors who are unlikely to be amused by his observations) does not interest me in the ways it is likely to interest his quick-hit reviewers. Evidence of the church's malfeasances is seen every day in the pedophilia cases that trickle into civil courts ... that's the easy stuff, however hard it may be. A feeding frenzy is growing as the church hemorrhages money and tries to fend off a growing number of unwilling and sometimes cantankerous onlookers. The power that was once is a dwindling power ... but in the past onlookers were willing to accord the church a trust and faith ... a trust and faith in which Coyne partook.

Bad boys are always fun, of course, but what interests me more is the jolt any man or woman might feel when they begin to see that what they have so loved in the past, what has nourished and inspired and given life meaning, is now in equal measure a noose around their throats, constricting and constraining the very limitless spirit that once sought out an encouraging home.

Yes, there may be the anger of betrayal, but there is also a shaking of the foundations. No one can undo the past and no one wants to be taken for a fool and a dupe. It ... hurts. To have loved and sacrificed and promoted the cause of and used so much time on the much-beloved and now ... now this. Now a new point of view. Now a need to escape what was embraced and yet there is no escape.

It never happens overnight. Rather, recognitions seem to advance, drip by acid drop. At first there may be panic and the hope that the patient may be saved, that the walls once lovingly built can be re-mortared and preserved. And then come the desperations of hope -- the assertions of hope that may yet resuscitate and restore to health. But drip by drop, recognition by unassailable recognition, what was once so beloved slips from view. It's not as easy as saying "yes" or "no." What has been slips away and yet too, remains.

It can break a (wo)man's heart.

And yet what hope is there for those whose heart is never broken? Limitlessness may seek out limitations, but does that mean it is therefore limited? You don't have to be a Roman Catholic priest to face such circumstances. Anyone can love, and love dearly, and then one day find constrictions where freedom had been embraced. Tributaries to some beloved flow dry up or find new channels in which to deliver their lively nourishment.

Some may place the limited and limitless in a realm they call spiritual or religious or philosophical.

But I wonder if it is not just part and parcel of growing up.

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