Feb 25, 2012

Red Lights for Cardinal Dolan

Whispers in the Loggia has a posting today about the decision of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to light up in red the still under construction One World Trade Center building, in honor of Timothy Dolan's elevation to the Cardinalate. This tribute will continue throughout the week, at who knows what cost. Such are the ways of the world and the mystique of power, proving once again that institutional religion is as much a hindrance as a help in enlightening the souls of human beings and leading them to a true understanding of the divine. But as Jeshu said so eloquently (through his scriptural interpreters), My Kingdom is not of this World. But the Cardinal is very much of this world and moves serenely and adroitly through the halls of power, while occasionally making a dramatic photo-op foyer into the neighborhoods of the poor, as he did this Ash Wednesday.

I don't wish to judge the Cardinal's sincerity in this photo, but I just wished he hadn't worn his pectoral cross so ostentatiously. What are we Catholics and catholics to make of all this. Well, for myself, I simply remember that such it has always been - ever since this elite little club of men came into existence in the 12th century. Judging by the reactions of ordinary Catholics in the pews these days, however, not to mention the many Catholic feet walking out the door, the allure of the Cardinalate is waning, all efforts of the Port Authority notwithstanding. While such it has always been, such it need not always be.  We are witnessing the demise of a particular institutional form of Christianity, and though it seems to be taking a long time dying, dying indeed it is, with signs of light and life springing up elsewhere - though not on the scaffolding of the soon to be tallest building in Manhattan, the 1776 foot high new One World Trade Center (even it's title is chilling, a reminder of the One World Order of the Neo Cons). How fitting that a monument to hubris and economic world domination should honor the hubris of Roman Christianity. Here we have the perfect poetic metaphor for the symbiotic relationship between mammon and religious power, as the bishops' turn to the right in the US so amply demonstrates. Yet such it has always been - so much so that it really is a fundamental archetype of human existence, the regally clad religious prelate hobnobbing with princes and kings, while the saints suffer and labor in the gutters and byways of the poor.

 But the Lord wishes us to have faith in his living, abiding presence amidst these signs of contradiction. Indeed, the sign of contradiction that the hierarchy has become today should only comfort us with the assurance that the Lord is near, hiding in the shadows of our trials and sorrows, but closer to us than the beating of our own heart. Trials of faith are meant to lead us to a deeper understanding of the living presence of the Spirit among us and within us, a living stream of gentle, live giving water that flourishes in the dark pools of suffering and oppression, and a Presence that recoils from the garish lights of human aggrandizement and folly. 

In light of these reflections, I was just reading last night from Bishop Carlton Pearson's wonderful, inspiring book, God is Not a Christian, Nor a Jew, Muslim, Hindu:

The purpose of the organized, institutional church is not to save anyone. The purpose of any organization, from churches to governments, is to perpetuate its own existence. It runs counter to the interests of any Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or any other formal faith tradition to declare that you can be free simply by adopting the Christ Principle, because then you will not need the church, and it will have no reason to exist....

George Orwell wrote in 1984, "The object of power is power." That is the idea that the Christ principal threatens. Christ was never about religion: He did not come here to found one. He was about personal awareness and self-discovery, the church that lies and lives within each of us. Organized religion is designed to compel its adherents to become addicted to the church, not God or Christ. Religion is a drug, and its most intolerant proponents are drug dealers who push ignorance. The addiction that millions have to religion has caused many destructive and abusive habits and criminality within human culture. Instead of the church being a spiritual rehab center for drug-free living, it has become the crack house where addicts get their hits. 

Religion cannot and will not survive true Christ consciousness. That is why it cannot tolerate Inclusion. The less religious you are, the more radically inclusive you become.

Very provocative words indeed. But I'm reminded of the humble figure of Dorothy Day, living day by day in the Bowery of New York, very much a Catholic living in her tiny niche, hidden  in the deep inner bosom of mother church - and then vigorously picketing the then Cardinal Spellman when he would commit some egregious shameful folly. The Christ principal exists within Holy Mother Church, but you have to look hard to find it and it will not be illuminated or celebrated by the garish red lights of the One World Trade Center.    Such it has always been, but will such it always be?


colkoch said...

Bishop Pearson tells it like it is. I'm beginning to feel sad for Cardinal Dolan. He's setting himself up for failure in a big way. When his boat overturns it's going to take a lot of other little boats with it. His money switching while he was in Milwaukee is a ticking time bomb---and all to avoid payouts to known abuse victims.

I agree with the pectoral cross observation. That hit me wrong as well. When you understand and are enmeshed in the Christ energy you don't need external advertisement.

Jayden Cameron said...

Colleen - I actually watched one of Dolan's sermons over at Whispers - for his first installation Mass (I guess they had to hold two of them to accommodate the crowds): Painful experience and I didn't succeed in finishing it. Too much jolly self congratulations about being part of the intimate boys' club = with a number of elderly, tottering, red hatted gentleman sitting in the sanctuary grinning at it all. Really painful to watch so much human self delusion so garishly on display. And I realized (not for the first time) these people are impervious to change. They are too insulated by too many layers of psychic defenses to see the damage they are really causing. The only solution is to stop them from their own addictions by removing their power. Then I switched focus and read some gossip about the upcoming Oscars (today in fact!).

William D. Lindsey said...

Jayden, it has taken me far too long to tell you how much I enjoyed reading this posting, which somehow seemed to drop right into some other things I was reading at the very moment it came along--as if it was a godsend.

Have a happy and enjoyable Easter season in beautiful Prague, and thanks for all the wonderful meditations you bring us on this blog site.

Jayden Cameron said...

Thank you, Bill. What a delightful surprise to hear from you this Easter morn. Glad the post was of some good for you, I enjoyed writing it. And a blessed Easter to you and Steve as well. I'm sure you'll enjoy some fine home cooking this evening.