Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Shouting from the Rooftops

I often wonder why on Easter morning the world can't find peace. Of course, there are different calendars for dating Easter, so different traditions celebrate it on different days, but I don't think it would be all that bad to have more than one day of real peace. But we don't and we won't because war is easier and habitual and it gives us an excuse to hide and cheat and deceive--both others and ourselves.

As this particular Easter approaches, my thoughts go to the growing revelations in the Roman Catholic Church over the issue of pedophile and abusive priests. I don't suppose such revelations will be the end to the institution that claims to be the final repository of divine truth, but I admit to deep anguish that even one of those sworn to the life of sacrament willfully destroys children and youth, or willfully ignores that destruction, all in the name of being the instrument of God.

I remember when studying church history how dismayed I was when I saw that the efforts of the Reformers in the 16th century ended up shattering into splinters the then somewhat unified voice of Christianity coming from the Roman Catholic Church. Since that time, the rabbits of church multiplication have bequeathed multiple Christian groups, all sure they have the handle on the truth and often barely able speak to one another across doctrinal lines.

And yet, there must be reformers anytime an institution purports to speak for God but does so only in the voice of the privileged few who self-select who gets to come in and who must stay out. And especially when some of those privileged few whisper in the darkness, "What just happened is our secret. You must never talk about it."

It takes nearly superhuman courage to break those bonds of dark secrets, especially when sexual boundaries of children and youth have been crossed by those who were publicly affirmed as trustworthy. The experience of shame and the risk of public censure coming against the victimized combine into such a barrier that by far the easiest path is to remain silent, to keep the secret, and honor the promise never to speak of it. The voice of the dissenter must nearly always be silenced when that voice insists that those things which are hidden must come to light in order for the true Gospel is to appear and actually do its work of redeeming us.

In truth, the current scandal in the Roman Catholic church only reflects the private scandals in which most of us live: we seek to keep much hidden, hoping by so doing, that things will eventually either disappear or right themselves somehow. But they don't.

Jesus taught that those dark secrets will all eventually come to the light. The beginning of the Gospel of Luke, chapter 12, reads: "During that time a crowd of many thousands had gathered. There were so many people that they were stepping on one another. Jesus spoke first to his disciples. 'Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees,' he said. 'They just pretend to be godly. Everything that is secret will be brought out into the open. Everything that is hidden will be uncovered. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight. What you have whispered to someone behind closed doors will be shouted from the rooftops.' "

Yes, be on your guard. Be on your guard that you are not deceived by a religious or social structure that says, "This is a secret between you and me," or says, "Only the initiated get to know this." It is a setup for abuse, it is the way of death and destruction, it is a denial of the resurrection that says, "Be free to worship in spirit and in truth."

The first disciples, after a time of prayer, proceeded to tell EVERYONE about the resurrection of Jesus. It is not a secret for the select, but is hope for those who had no hope.

That is Easter. That is life after death. That is true peace. 

No comments: