Spiritual Rigidity, Too Vague a Concept

November 13th, 2016

One of the most common, and commonly misused concepts in discourse about spiritual direction is the concept of “rigidity.”

This concept can mean a legalistic and unmerciful mentality that places the letter of the law over the Spirit, as Pope Francis appears to use the term.

In the US seminaries of the 1950s through the 1990s, rigidity was associated with the psychological concept of the authoritarian personality, a post WWII trope typified by Theodor Adorno’s heavily Freudian work of the same name.

But unfortunately, rigidity is often vaguely defined and subject to the eye of the beholder. The term “rigid” was terribly misused in US seminaries for decades to disqualify men from the priesthood as “rigid” who might have done any of the following–

  • Attended Mass and prayed every day
  • Prayed the Rosary and had a devotion to the Blessed Mother
  • Read Papal Documents and catechisms
  • Once attended a Latin Mass
  • Did not go out and drink alcohol or take drugs with the other guys
  • Were not open to homosexual relationships
  • Were not Democrats or Republicans like a given seminary faculty member

I am sadly familiar with a case from the 1960s in which a priest and seminary faculty member, who himself was later removed from ministry for a credible complaint of abuse, made it his personal business to disqualify seminarians as “rigid” for some of the above reasons. Some corrupt spiritual directors have tragically sought to shape a priesthood that is safe for the likes of themselves. While Pope Francis’ use of the term conveys the priority of mercy, “rigidity,” because of the term’s vagueness, allows for great abuse by a given spiritual director based upon that director’s own theological, sexual, and political preferences. “Rigidity” can be made to mean whatever a given spiritual director wants it to mean.

So whenever I hear the word “rigid” in a religious context, I urge caution. The term is terribly general and vague, without a strongly articulated Biblical and theological history, not to mention a precise psychological definition, having different connotations in different languages and cultures.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at sanityandsocialjustice.net are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.

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Aphorism CVI: Hix Nix HRC’s Vix

November 9th, 2016

Hix Nix HRC’s Vix

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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France’s Vendee Genocide in the 1790s

November 6th, 2016

Lenin studied how the French revolutionaries committed genocide in the western Vendee region of France in the 1790s, actually visited the region, applied what he learned in Ukraine and Russia after its own revolution, and the Soviets carried on similar crimes after him. The French Left still will not admit that the widespread, massive executions of noncombatant Catholic women and children in the 1790s happened in the Vendee with the approval of the Committee for Public Safety and the National Convention. According to Solzhenitsyn, the Vendee was the model for future genocides. The mass drownings at Nantes, but one of the outrages of the French Revolution, were imitated by the Soviet Union. Time for the French government to admit to their own internal genocide.

The book A French genocide: the Vendée / Reynald Secher ; translated by George Holoch, Notre Dame Press 2003, ISBN 0268028656 9780268028657, originally published in 1986 as Le genocide franco-francais: la Vendee-Venge by Reynald Secher, followed in 2011 by Vendee, du genocide au memoricide: mecanique d’un crime legal contre l’humanite? by Reynald Secher; Gilles-William Goldnadel; Helene Piralian; Stephane Courtois, with more information here.

Here’s a translation of the book blurb for Secher’s 2011 book:

“Twenty-five years after the publication of his book, A French Genocide: The Vendée, Reynald Secher, thanks to the discovery at the French National Archives of unreleased documents, demonstrates, with supporting evidence, that the genocide of the Vendée had been designed, voted upon and implemented personally by members of the Committee of Public Safety and the National Convention, and that the army and the administration had been carrying out orders. To escape their responsibilities and hide the ideological and political logic that inevitably led the Jacobin Republic to genocide, these criminals and their political heirs have denied facts, and imposed on the nation their self-amnesty and general impunity. They thus committed a second crime, that of memoricide which in a perverse reversal designated the Vendee victims as executioners and turned the Jacobin executioners into victims. This first scandal is added a second: these executioners benefited from all the favors and honors of the state, while the victims and their descendants were traumatized, silenced, and persecuted constantly, finding themselves thus excluded from citizenship that was rightfully theirs.”

I might add that some of the generals who committed the genocide are still memorialized on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and that the word “brigand” was used against the Vendee population.

A recent film by Daniel Rabourdin, The Hidden Rebellion: The Untold Story of the French Revolution, dramatizes the Vendee genocide.

Here’s the first trailer for the film. Here’s the second trailer.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at sanityandsocialjustice.net are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.

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Response to Prof. Camosy’s 11/3/16 Crux Article on Catholic Voting

November 4th, 2016

Per Prof. Charles Camosy’s 11/3/16 Crux article “A Catholic may vote for Clinton, Trump, somebody else, or nobody.”

I just reread the US Bishops’ Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship document, and it does not give Prof. Camosy liberty to definitively state the name of any candidate as being capable of receiving a Catholic vote. Paragraphs 33-38 in the document are key. Prof. Camosy is qualified, like any other Catholic, to state his own voting decision and the basis for it. But he is certainly not qualified to completely define the specific universe of possible moral choices for others. Doing so would be beyond the pay grade even of a bishop, not to mention a professor.

The US Bishops’ statement cannot be used to rule any candidate _in_ to a list such as Prof. Camosy composed.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at sanityandsocialjustice.net are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.

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What the Game is Really About

October 23rd, 2016

It’s not about winning. It is about childhood, and hope, and joy of expectation. It is waking up to a beautiful day before the dew burnt away and getting your ball and mitt and calling out your friends, and if there weren’t enough of them, to play derivative games like fast pitching, or running bases, or bounce or fly, or 500, or peggy-move up, or even, as my dad taught me, baseball with a jackknife in a clearing on the prairie, or if it rained, show each other our baseball cards, and maybe trade them. It is about one stry stries, or odds and evens, or flipping a coin, or rock paper scissors, or catching the tossed bat nearest the end, placing fingers next to fingers, and trying to kick the bat away from the last kid holding onto the thin knuckle of the bat to see who got to pick sides first. It is even about just playing catch, or rolling the ball back and forth with a squealing little toddler.

It has nothing to do with drunks, or car commercials, or overpriced tickets or sports bars or hip neighborhoods, or uniforms or authentic gear. It has to do with transcendent moments of perfection, when somehow the most difficult feat in all of athletics, to hit a ball squarely within a fraction of a second of decision, happens just when we want it to happen the most, and the ball goes just where we want it to go. Each component of the game — running, throwing, fielding, batting, coaching, umpiring, even groundskeeping — has its own beyond. Any group of children with a bat and a ball and some gloves can do it, any time the weather and conditions permit, as long as bullies aren’t there to steal your stuff, or someone doesn’t demand to see a permit.

This game, when played right, and yes, with respect, is open to be shared by any who work to skill up for it, and who are willing to learn from those wise in it. This game, and what it meant, is a wonderful memory, like my father’s spooky knuckleball. As the man said, it’s only about what happens between the two white lines, nothing else. Once the game starts, you stay to the end, unless Mom or Dad calls you home.

For thousands of hours of my life, I have played and anticipated and practiced this most difficult game, and tried to teach it to my kids and to other kids. I have permanent injuries because of it. Although I treasure the memories of friendship it brought, I have let it go, and probably will never spend more than two minutes watching it played professionally again, because the game is no longer innocent and free enough for children, and because my own time is running out, and other, better purposes demand my attention each moment.

But I celebrate your joy! Come a future spring, I may again stand in the cold air and watch the young play their hearts out in a neighborhood park as the bat stings their hands with every swat. I know the feeling.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at sanityandsocialjustice.net are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.

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Aphorism CV

October 17th, 2016

The purpose of almost all political rhetoric is to demonstrate that excrement is not odiferous (odoriferous).

This rhetoric only works when people cannot smell, politically speaking.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at sanityandsocialjustice.net are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.

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Black Lives Matter’s Anti-Family Rhetoric

October 12th, 2016

I fundamentally disagree with the anti-family Black Lives Matter rhetoric:

“We are committed to disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another, and especially ‘our’ children to the degree that mothers, parents and children are comfortable.”

Guiding Principles, Black Lives Matter website

We have witnessed the destruction of the African American family for generations. There apparently is not room for responsible fatherhood in the BLM radical rhetoric. After hundreds of years of the government and our culture disrupting the African American nuclear family, now BLM proposes to finish the job. Not an improvement.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at sanityandsocialjustice.net are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.

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Aphorism CIV

September 25th, 2016

The dramatic increase in public awareness of police excessive force and killings is due to the proliferation of Internet-linked cameras following technological advance and to new forms of association due to social media, not due to an increase in police excessive force and killings.

There have been police excessive force and killings with impunity for thousands of years. But the new integration of phone and camera technology has made these killings visible, and has made it possible for citizens to respond in coordinated ways to police excessive force and killings.

Now police excessive force and killings cannot occur with impunity. This change has been the dream of reformers for millennia.

Technology has brought us to a new point with the age-old question, Quis custodiet ipsos custodies? Who will guard these guardians?

There have always been police excessive force and killings. Now we can see more of them, and react in appropriate ways that protect the rights of citizens.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at sanityandsocialjustice.net are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.

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More Sad News from Illinois DCFS

September 25th, 2016

News reports state that 11 youths died within the care of Illinois DCFS during the two-year period ending 6/30/15.

I recall that the Chicago Sun-Times campaigned against the Catholic child-care institution Maryville in 2002-3 over one suicide, and, with the help of the ACLU, drove the dedicated Fr. John P. Smyth out of child care after four decades of service. Now the Sun-Times reporters and editors should be very proud of themselves, given the catastrophic failure of Illinois DCFS.

As I wrote during the Maryville controversy–

The enduring naive faith of Chicago child welfare reformers in, of all things, Illinois politics to provide stability for poor children is the core dumb idea to which crusading reformers return decade after decade, like the Biblical dog returning to its vomit. . . .

Here is a link with a summary of my correspondence from 2002-3 on this subject.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at sanityandsocialjustice.net are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.

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African American Legislative Caucuses Commit Slow Suicide by Supporting Abortion

September 23rd, 2016

Despite the African American total fertility rate in the US shrinking to less than the replacement rate for the African American population, African American legislative caucuses continue to commit slow suicide by supporting abortion. With each redistricting to come, whether in civic, state, or congressional elections, the number of predominantly African American legislative districts will continue to shrink, despite activist politics at redistricting time and more and more ludicrous gerrymandering.

There is no fighting demography in the long run. As the African American population shrinks in the US due in no small part to abortion politics, so will shrink the hard-fought political gains of African Americans. African American legislative caucuses are beginning to die by their own hand. After 2030, if present abortion trends continue in the African American community, it is possible that African American legislative districts at all levels could shrink by 40% to even 50%.

This self-inflicted blow was first struck by now elderly legislators of the Civil Rights era who bought into supporting abortion in order to gain and retain power. These foolish elders have dealt their own legacy a death blow, but given the human life span, they will likely not survive long enough to witness the bitter fruits of their own stupidity.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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The views posted at sanityandsocialjustice.net are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.

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