My first exposure to the Jesuit order was in the movie Shogun, which was based on the book by James Clavell. I was fascinating by the priestly order that appeared to have military background. So, I investigated a bit and found out about Ignacio de Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. There was something attractive about the Jesuit order, the soldier of God.

Having subscribed to Wikipedia’s RSS feed a few weeks ago, a host of fascinating facts have come into my aggregator. Today’s was St. Ignacio de Loyola. I found the history interesting, but this assertion caught my attention:

He then developed a philosophy for the Church, which was built on faith. For instance, if the Church said something was white, you regarded it as white, even though you thought it was black. He encouraged people to trust the Church, instead of relying on his/her own insight.

There are modern parallels to Ignacio’s attitude. Of course, this religiousity–faith rather than Faith–isn’t limited to one, universal church any longer. I found listening to Colin McGinn ( interviewed by Bill Moyers) captivating:

It’s hard to prove that a unicorn doesn’t exist, especially hard to prove that God doesn’t exist, because God just by definition is outside of space and time.

As a believer, I find Colin’s objections to religion valid. Let me say that again. As a Christian believer, I find Colin’s points about RELIGION valid and worthwhile–and disagree only at the point of atheism. I do not believe that Ignacio was right…in fact, i believe that I must work towards the truth at all costs and its realization in my life. It is a powerful commitment, one that I awaken to every day, but the second part of that is frightening.

That said, I do not believe that realizing truth in life means legislating Christian values in our government, requiring an army of young conservatives and believers seeing black acts as white and good. I’ve written about some of the problems I have with the conservative frame–as characterized by George Lakoff in “Don’t Think of an Elephant “–and found this quote from Mary Gordon to be representative of my concerns:

And it seems vulnerable to me on several different fronts because I think there are two major narratives in the world, the narrative of fundamentalism and the narrative of consumerism. And I think that what I value is threatened by two opposing forces. One, the fundamentalist force, which wants to censor doubt, censor questioning.

And one which wants to make everything about money. And one of the most disturbing phenomena in the world as I experience it now is that everything seems to be about money. What can be commodified, what can be sold. The notion that there’s never enough money. That greed seems to be okay. That the value of an artistic or a literary production is how many mega bucks it makes. That the value of a vocation seems to be gone. It’s what can you do that would make money. And so, I feel that these two narratives which intertwine in some poisonous way that I don’t quite understand, both of them make me feel very vulnerable.

But, what gives rise to this type of fundamentalism or consumerism? Fundamentalism is the ultimate despair…it is the belief that we must censor doubt, censor questioning, censor everything (e.g. DOPA) because the world is screwed up so bad. It’s not so far from Osama bin Laden’s beliefs, according to Mary Gordon:

Somebody was telling me about young girls from very good schools who will photograph each other having sex, and put it on the Internet, so that people can, you know, see them, access them having sex. Thirteen, fourteen year old girls are doing that. And I see something like that, and it makes me despair. And I think there is something so wrong with this culture that, wipe it out. Start from– start from zero. It’s too corrupt.

You have only to do a search on the Web to find examples from all over ( Example 1 | Example 2 | Example 3 | Example 4). The answer to all these points is education, but that answer isn’t coming fast enough…even if we had the opportunity to actually teach about it, which we often do not because the focus is elsewhere (e.g. high stakes testing). It means that we will find ourselves among those who are fundamentalist, or focused on making money. Education is not powerful enough in the short term because education today lacks the passion and relevance of real life. Fundamentalism can generate anger, hate, and contempt…it can help people feel superior to others. In short, I know it makes me feel in control as righteous anger courses through my veins. And, when the anger is gone, nothing is left but the slow realization that things weren’t so cut and dried.

What’s the answer? Commit to truth, commit to making it real in your life. And…have faith. Believe you are powerful beyond measure.

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