Sunday, 28 November 2010
History helps us understand why we are who we are, and ours is a melange of the compliant and authoritarian nineteen fifties, with just a touch of the total social blow out of the late sixties. We are true “in-betweeners”, mostly ‘jock’, but with a hint of rebel. Not so those who immediately followed us, the younger siblings of Collins and Angel and all. During my Jesuit sojourn, I was sentenced to teach at Gonzaga for ten months on the cusp on the seventh decade, was privileged to encounter some of them, and have kept in touch ever since. Unbeknownst to many of you, when I come home, I always try to find time to meet with a group of those former Gonzaga inmates, and be updated. They also send me an occasional précis of where their minds are travelling.
Many have now rejected our religious inheritance as purely and simply a vehicle of political and social mind control. They also reject all of the visible manifestations of denominational adherence. Catholicism commands no more of their interest and attention than does Anglicanism or Hinduism, and recently they engaged me in a discussion on ‘intelligent design’, with some feeling it was not really necessary to postulate such a foundational base. These are good caring intelligent men, and I listen to them carefully. They openly speculate on whether they have crossed over into atheism, and no, they are not angry.
If one believes the Big Bang theory, why bother with intelligent design? Does belief in God necessitate we swallow one or another creation myths? Further, why bother swallowing out-dated mythology about an afterlife? Why live for what is not and may never be? These men are not crusader atheists, they have simply rejected all the language and forms of the world in which we were raised. Neither are they violently dogmatic about any of this, and many still leave room for “the just in case.” We have surely travelled centuries in just a few decades.
I am neither surprised, offended, nor alienated by any of this. I welcome their mature reflection on matters of faith and belief, their openness, and their inquiries. Neither am I so arrogant as to think it a stage that will pass. The ancienne régime is past and well buried. It shall not return. But I also personally still continue to hold firm to the existence of a spiritual reality that transcends man made religion. In time I may elaborate further.