There is a deep and profound conflict between what is being proposed in these pages, with respect to relationships among members of a parish and also between individuals and the deity and what passes for conventional wisdom, or what passes for what is feasible.
There is an inherent reluctance to any form of disclosure from many human beings, as if to disclose will prompt an automatic rejection from those who learn one's life story. It is encapsulated in the cliche, "Familiarity breeds contempt"....one of the more heinous and indelible aphorisms of all of our youths.
"Don't talk to strangers" is another of those "cracker-barrel" philosophies that are dispensed to young children, helping to imprint a deeply distrustful, and even destructive note, into the potential for healthy human relationships.
On the other hand, there is much recent evidence from the social sciences that points to the reality that humans are 'hard-wired' to be social...we are innately 'connected' to one another and it would seem that any impetus to disrupt that natural inclination is a kind of unnatural, if too frequent, impediment imposed through accident, or even unhealthy will on that hard wiring. Of course, there is something we call "social space" which provides a sense of physical distance between individuals when we encounter a new person. My experience with social space takes me to an encounter with a sixty-something Anglican cleric, whom I met, and instantly "knew" that were I to intrude closer that six-to-eight feet from his person, I would immediately be scorned. Never before or since have I experienced such an icy "aura" when encountering another human being. There is simply no chance, should I have continued in that person's presence, that I would have even considered sharing any details of my personal life story. His person, by itself, was a "put-off" and whether or not he realized it, his physical presence would always be an 'electrified wire fence' to any potential relationship. Ironically, he was also the father of some eight children, and the story goes that, upon visiting his wife in hospital immediately after the birth of their eighth, he was greeted with a flying stiletto heel aimed at his face, fired by the new mother who screamed, "Don't you ever come near me again! From now on you will sleep in the basement!"
Of course, the story never made it to the public's attention, and inside the church such hypocrisy and dishonesty are rampant, including alcohol abuse, drug dependencies, and many other forms of abuse, waiting sometimes until long after the victims and the perpetrators have died, to come to light. Pride is such a manhole cover, keeping the traffic of social "respectability" flowing, without falling precipitously into the sewer of truth, as the originators of the "code" would have it.
And it is precisely the avoidance and denial of the underground "currents" of raw sewage of abuse, torture, vengeance, domination and the many other forms of flotsam and jetsam of our collective and shared Shadows that precludes the churches becoming a healthy model of relationships based on the disclosure of all the truths, including especially those heretofore hidden from public knowledge (even from our families of origin!) for healthy families, where intimate truths need to be shared, comforted, unpacked and seen for the gift that they always contain.
It is little wonder that all the tumours, cardiac arrests, dermatitis cases, and even the rise in social violence contained in sexual violation, gun violence, bullying, broken homes and lives, and the many dependencies that ravage too many lives are bankrupting the health care systems of so many countries where such systems exist. How many of those premature, untimely and preventable "illnesses and catastrophic events" would never have happened if those people involved had been truly and consistently reared on all forms of healthy human love as well as in God's love and acceptance? It says here in response, "so many that the thesis is worth consideration."
Scarcity, in all of its many forms, even if most of those are based on faulty perceptions, engendered by a capitalistic market economy, is the high-octane fossil fuel that keeps its engines firing. It is, in fact, scarcity, want, emptiness, unworthiness, emptiness, excruciating and brutal and uneraseable judgements of those we thought and believed we could trust, whose projections of their own inadequacies, failures, scarcities, emptiness, unworthiness and brutal judgements are constantly being passed to unsuspecting recipients, and then dismissed as "just the price of growing up, from innocence to 'manhood' (often in a male dominated sexist undercurrent of extremely faulty and malicious parenting, educating and managing in the workplace) that fuel the engines of too many human (including christian) relationships.
And, just as we must reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, in order to save the planet from self-and -self-inflicted- immolation, so too we must eliminate to the extent we are able, our dependence on the market fossil fuel of scarcity, emptiness, unworthiness and judgements whose only real purpose is the acquisition of a kind of faux power over another, or a group, or perhaps even an institution, to fill our own empty black holes.
And that latter reduction or elimination will be much more challenging that reducing or eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels. First, because it is too unseen, invisible, abstract and merely philosophical, where the dependence on fossil fuels is emerging from the smells in our gas tanks on all our vehicles, and from the exhaust pipes on those same vehicles, and measured in tonnes of carbon dioxides being emitted into the atmosphere, widening the hole in the earth's atmosphere.
So our problem, here, is to help others both see our dependence on scarcity, spiritually, and to point out some new ways of proceeding, that just might afford a different opportunity for the christian churches to fulfil a different and more healing role in the lives of those who might risk the adventure of entering into their sanctuaries.