Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Good and Bad Roots of Reform--(or Reform pt III)

I came across a book authored in the mid 70's.  It was written by a religious brother who was later accused of inappropriate behaviors.  It was a very popular book during its time and I recall being given the book by my high school chaplain and reading it at different times throughout high school.

The book was the result of the Church's 'newfound' marriage between religion and psychology.
     "...I am sure that the most persistent and restless desire of my life is to be fully human and fully alive."

I found it interesting that he mentions Carl Jung by name before Jesus Christ, but I digress.
Unfortunately it took years before I found my true restless desire--God (thank you for naming it--good old St. Augustine).  And, even though I have failed many (many) times in my search, it is only through the mercy of Jesus that I am drawn deeper into His love.

In my last entry I talked about humility as a root to true reform.
In the following thoughts I want to address the need to be selfless.

Often times the roots of reform are not only reactionary but narcissistic.  Books, philosophies, and even the very Gospel can and have been used to justify anything in the name of 'reform'.  How can you argue with the need to reform?  We have been lead to believe that reform is good--no matter what the cost. Of course the matter is compounded when the person who truly seeks reform is combatting narcissistic behavior.  Both 'sides' end up navel gazing and jockeying for positions using a variety of tactics like--anonymity, half truths, lack of communication and passive aggressive behaviors.
Sometimes in the midst of seeking reform, we become what we hate.
There was a time when all I yearned for was reform in the church and my distrust and dislike of whatever I didn't like sometimes consumed me.  Fortunately love prevailed.

There are those who appear to be selfless and live for others--laity and clergy alike--but it is only an appearance.  A great deal of energy goes into living such a false life because what is really going on is that the person will keep striving to live a life of appearances--for personal gratification.  And the problem perpetuates itself--to satan's pleasure.

The quest of fulfilling that desire to be 'fully human and fully alive' does absolutely nothing but allow a person to dip their toe in the pool of relativism.  A person who justifies their 'spirituality of me' at the expense of others is nothing more than the Pharisee who passed judgement on the poor widow.  Such a spirituality isolates, contradicts the first commandment, and denies the sacrificial love of Christ.  Such a spirituality cannot become the basis of true reform.

In the 90's, while working at a spirituality/psychology institute (yes I was into it), I recall a presentation on 'dealing with difficult people.'  The reason such a conference was so well attended?  Because we had 15-20 years of navel gazing me-ness, now everyone was difficult!

Nothing like an adult who doesn't get their way, again laity and clergy notwithstanding.
And...nothing like a self proclaimed narcissistic reformer who doesn't get his/her way!
Reform cannot be rooted in 'me'
It must not be rooted in the 'self'

True reform is selfless.  The other way is not true, it is false and a lie--and we know where lies come from.