09 October 2011

The church as dynamite

As part of my desire to grow further in my understanding of what "community" is, I've read some books about Dorothy Day, who started the Catholic Worker Movement. From what I've read, it is obvious that she desired to serve God fully in all of what she said and did - and she did so with much faith, passion and a good dose of stubbornness (although I expect the stubbornness sometimes irritated those who worked with her, I also expect that God worked at times through her stubbornness - and at times despite it). Also admirable was her love for the church and her desire to be fully committed to the Catholic Church while also challenging the viewpoints within the church that she found to be contradictory to the church's message - this was most obvious in her stands on both pacificism and social activism.

A key partner in her work was Peter Maurin - who was famous for his "Easy Essays." They are short poems which get one to thinking. The first one that got me to thinking was his own challenge to the church - a challenge to wake up and be relevant. It is, I believe, a challenge that is still needed today - and not just for the Catholic Church.

"Blowing the dynamite"
Writing about the Catholic Church,
a radical writer says:
"Rome will have to do more
than to play a waiting game;
she will have to use
some of the dynamite
inherent in her message."
To blow the dynamite
of a message
is the only way
to make the message dynamic.
If the Catholic Church
is not today
the dominant social dynamic force,
it is because Catholic scholars
have taken the dynamite
of the Church,
have wrapped it up
in nice phraseology,
placed it in an hermetic container
and sat on the lid.
It is about time
to blow the lid off
so the Catholic Church
may again become
the dominant social dynamic force.
             Taken from pages 12-13 in Mark and Louise Zwick's The Catholic Worker Movement (Paulist Press, 2005). 

As one who does theology, this poem is a good warning to all of us who are involved in things having to do with theology, church, and the Bible. It is so easy to get up in details or facts and to forget that my serving God isn't so much about getting the information right so much as it is about doing theology or church (or read the Bible) in a way that makes a difference in all of life - both personal and public - and helping/teaching others to do the same.

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