Saturday, January 10, 2009

Minnesota 22.7.02: Famly Reunions and Wheedling Devil

Lots of thoughts these days of Mother’s last years and death. I feel great sadness. Obviously it’s always with me, bubbling inside. She lived less than a decade after Simpson’s death, something I foresaw and could do nothing to change. If anything, I prolonged her demise. Had I not taken her to live with us, she would have certainly died in 1995-6. That’s what she wanted.

I feel guilt about putting her into a nursing home. Yet the doctor insisted. . . .

But I feel I failed. That was the predominant feeling when I placed her there. I failed to redeem . . . something: her, our relationship, both of our lives. . . .

+ + + + +

The sermon at Steve’s family reunion at Pearl Lake was by Fr. George. He talked about how his Uncle John and Aunt Mary, Steve’s great-grandparents, took him in and raised him as their own when his parents died. Told stories of how Steve’s great-grandmother fasted every Saturday for priests.

Then he launched into a hair-raising sermon about how the devil tempts us to lose our Catholic faith, and how we must resist and be countercultural. To whom was that sermon addressed? The younger members of the family who perhaps need to hear it (in George’s view) weren’t there, don’t go to church anymore.

It’s not the world and its values that are the problem. It’s the church, which is fossilized in a cultural system that is simply beside the point for most of these younger family members. They can’t return to that tight-knit rural ethnic world the sermon implicitly idealizes. But that’s all the church can imagine for them.

The church of our days fails to be church. Its failure to be church is most evident when it’s most intransigent, most nostalgically countercultural. There’s nothing at all really countercultural about the church in that reactive mode. That church is like any other rigid male hierarchy that plays power games and keeps secrets—no different than the Pentagon, the CIA, or a smoky backroom filled with corporate board members.

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