The third Theology in the Vineyard met again in Prince Edward County on Saturday October 28. Once again we convened at the beautiful Grange Vineyard in Hillier. The hunger for the coming of the new church was as palpable as the wine served at lunch. What tangible yearning, what insights born of such loyal service to God’s reign!
The “church below the church” is beginning to move away from the period of lamentation,a time when the the minority opinion of Vatican ll attempted to reassert itself. Every revolution always sees a counter-revolution which has a brief moment in the sun then fades as this one is. The rising up of the baptized to take ownership of the Church is beginning again.
One could not but be affected by the daunting spirit of Rosemary Ganley whose slide show of a woman’s retreat in Rome focussed on the feminine contributions to the early church. Rosemary offered several feminist insights in her talk.Foremost among them is to simply get on with the necessary reign of God work.Find like minded friends to work, pray and discern with. Do not let the patriarchal structures consume you; create a parallel reality. Do not give more than 15% of your energy to church reform.
Ted Schmidt offered these observations about this “new moment.” similar to the one Matthew Arnold described in the Grand Chartreuse
Wandering between two worlds, one dead,
The other powerless to be born,
1. Power is returning.the Divine Disturber is re-emerging in the institution. There will still be a period when in TS Eliot’s words, “the sickness must grow worse.”
2. The People of God are way ahead of the institution.
3. No institution readily cedes power. The clerical, hierarchical Roman church is still locked in a medieval configuration, calcified by centuries of clerical control, aided and abetted by co-dependent believers who are beginning to assume adulthood. Can the Catholic church handle adult believers?
4. ”Signs of the times”, spirit moments of revelation have not been heard, listened to and integrated into Church structures, ecclesial and sacramental life.
5. The Magdalene Moment is here and is irreversible. The Petrine Moment (Roman Catholicism) was joined by the prophetic Pauline Church of the Reformation (sixteenth century)where the Word was made central,It is time for the Magdalene Moment where the cry of the formerly excluded-the poor, the earth and the feminine principle will be honoured.See Joanna Manning’s latest book to be released in 10 days.
6.In a cyberage, power can never be vertical. It will be horizontal and diffuse.
7. All churches are bleeding youth. The post modern world severely doubts hierarchies, and honours autonomy. A church without the politics of the kingdom will become inward looking, a massive civil service existing for itself. It can not attract youth who want to be radically engaged in the world.
8. Following the above,this age calls for radical humility given the massive failure of the Church leadership in the wake of war and sexual abuse.The American Church in particular stands comvicted of complicity in George W Bush’s reign of death in Iraq. Civil religion of America has triumphed over the nonviolent reign of the Crucified One.
9. All surveys indicate massive spiritual hunger; contemporary culture values autonomy, decision making not pre-baked answers. It is the quest ( Lord of the Rings, Joseph Campbell et al) which engages people. A new time of humility for Catholics to enter serious dialogue with all-based on gospel values. It will be a time of accompaniment not absolutes and arrogant scolding and hectoring of the People of God.
10.The struggle will be between a religious services church vs a socio-critical prophetic Church.(Metz)
11. 3 Imperatives for the new millenium
*Thou shalt take your baptism seriously-the rising of the lay church.
*Thou shalt accompany the holy nomads of no fixed religion, those secular saints
and prophetic movements now active in the world as agents of God’s creative and disturbing Spirit which always priviliges the poor and the sacred earth.
*Thou shalt fuse spiritual and the politics of the Reign of God.