domingo, março 12, 2006

False Priests

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Saturday March 18, 2006

Rex Murphy: Inside the strict faith of unfaith - cocking a digit.

Friday March 17, 2006

Rick Salutin concludes his column in today's Globe with: "All the trouble in the world happens because I do not say what I think and I do not do what I say, said a Hasidic rabbi." I will Google to see if I can discover who the rabbi was a little later; the line stayed with me because somehow or other it has become a central tenet in my own moral conundrums - Do what you say you will do, or at least make your failure to do so explicit.

The Hasids have come to me via Patrick White's novels, the Zaddikhim, the Wandering Jew, those who danced even in Hitler's ovens, in Buber's stories. It would be most fitting to me that one of them would say such a thing.

Sunday March 12, 2006

Clearly the Muslim priests calling for death and destruction in the wake of these cartoons are more politicians than priests - they are false-priests, we can call them false; I will call them false priests and you will all know pretty well what I mean by that. Does anyone think about this and doubt it? Bush's transcendental imagery is equivalent but he is a pew sitter not a preacher. Just as clearly, and closer to home, the Catholic priests of Quebec in days gone by, in the 50s and before, and closer still the priests of Mount Cashel right here in St. John's. We like to think that these events will pass, as the priest dominated villages of Quebec have passed, as the pederasts of Mount Cashel orphanage have passed (torn down to build a mall in a fit of public shame, swept under an architectural rug so to speak) - and maybe they will.

Chapter 11 of Thomas Pynchon's novel V is taken up with the spiritual evolution of a man named Fausto Maijstral and his lover Elena during the bombardment of Malta; and one (or two) of the forces on this transfiguration is a priestly struggle - Father Avalanche versus the 'Bad Priest'. The bad one turns out to be Veronica herself, or what is left of her at least, in eclesiastical drag.

Dylan has a song with a similar plot - Man in the Long Black Coat.

A question that comes to my mind is this: are these false priests the exception or the rule? Obviously not every Roman Catholic Priest is a kiddie diddler, notwithstanding the equally obvious pressures we imagine for them; not every Muslim cleric is out screaming for retribution; not every white southern Baptist is a racist - in fact, it is probably a fairly small proportion, maybe even very very small.

There are subtler shades of falseness though - cut to the chase, I am wondering if in some sense these false priests are an epitome or an exception. What about our very own Canadian United Church? I have posted recently on three incidents from my own experience with these people in which their public leaps to judgement seem to contradict Christ's "Judge not lest ye be judged."

The thought came to me tonight, last night, that as they say, 'many are called but few are chosen', that our reach exceeds our grasp, etc. etc. A rule of thumb test to determine priestly falseness would be - if you can't see both sides, if you end up choosing sides, then you are certainly no peacemaker and probably should go back to lawyering or accountancy or selling life insurance or rock'n roll singing or whatever it was you were doing before while you figgure it out.

There is an album by Pat Metheny, One Quiet Night, playing now, one of my all time fave-o-rites, introduced to me by my friend Berni.

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