Tuesday, November 04, 2014

A Hybrid Spirituality

Morning on Magdalen Tower - Holman Hunt

Random thoughts ...

I was doing a lot of thinking about the Spiritual Friendship gay-Catholics this past weekend - because they met for a conference at Notre Dame.  I did a couple of posts on the colloquium, but no one read them - which is fine, because I didn't have much to say.  Although I was seriously trying to make sense of the movement as a new gay spirituality.  Gay celibates - I'm not sure how new that is.

I don't want to go through the long history of gay, lgbtq, gay liberation, gay, gay, gay history - but suffice it to say I connect the dots to New Ways Ministry, Dignity, Catholic U .... everything that has gone before leading to now.  Gay as an identity.  It's part of coming out, it's part of being immersed in lgbtq.  So everyone knows that.  The Catholic Church responded offering a very pastoral ministry known as Courage.  Courage has been maligned as being too much like a recovery, 12 Step program - and has even been accused of promoting ex-gay therapy.  That's a misunderstanding which, repeated often enough, is believed, and is even claimed today by some of the Spiritual Friends.

That's not true however.  Courage isn't a gay movement - it is a support group for men and women who wish to sanctify their lives in accord with Catholic teaching.  It is not a hybrid spirituality, such as a 'new' movement, sect or religious community/association may develop into.  Courage is an apostolate within the Catholic Church.  Go to the Courage site here to understand better.

In contrast, the Spiritual Friendship 'movement' strikes me as a bit more exclusive however - as if it is a step above.  Ever since my first acquaintance with the group, it has seemed to me to be a sort of hybrid spirituality, a gay spirituality.  Similar to various movements in history, especially the romantic movement, or as I wrote in a previous post, the Uranians - except the Spiritual Friendship movement is Catholic.  Gay celibate Catholics, aka 'New Homophiles' - in that sense, they seem more like Shakers.

I'm still trying to understand, but I'm not sure it's all that important for me that I do.  I think it's a sort of trend, a movement to something else perhaps, and that's my point.

[Metaphor alert!]

Movements have a short term flowering within an era.

Like Shakers, homosexuals - celibate or not - can't reproduce.  A homophile movement may flower, but it bears no fruit.

Usually movements are transitory, creating a sort of safe haven, or respite from mediocrity.  They offer a periodic sense of belonging and identity, and though non-binary if you will, they inevitably close in upon themselves, forming another species within an existing subculture.

One may witness the effect in various movements within religious groups throughout history - which is why I consider the Spiritual Friendship group somewhat analogous with Shakers.  Off the top of my head, I can only think of a couple of other movements, albeit completely different in purpose from Spiritual Friends; the Spiritualist Franciscans, the Holiness movement, Quietists, Oxford movement, various Protestant sects and revival efforts, even some Catholic religious groups.  Most are more or less experiential, and in many cases unstable and transitory.  That is not to say they do not effect change - they do.

[Metaphor alert!]

I may be wrong, but I actually see some of the late 19th early 20th century religious habits of women religious as a sort of metaphor for the rise and fall, the progress and demise, of hybrid movements.  Case in point, the crazy habit of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary.

The foundress, M. St. Jean

Mid-20th century exaggeration.

The two examples shown above may help to make my point.  The religious women were organized into a community to serve a particular need in the Church at a particular time.  The habit was based upon folk dress of the time - albeit religious.  Perhaps somewhat exaggerated, it nevertheless was common to the time, fabrication natural and functional, and so on.  On the other hand, the 20th century hybrid denied the humanity of the person, confined and restricted vision and movement, and became an obstacle to the performance of duties, as well as restricting authentic freedom of spirit.  Components of the habit were rigid and artificial.  Religious life stagnated and withered.  The RSHM's remain extant, but it seems many religious congregations like them are fading away.  Although that's another post.

"All things are passing away: God never changes." - Teresa of Jesus

(Told you this was random.)

(Oh!  I may be wrong too.)

Song for this post here....

Yup.  That will do for now.

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