Wednesday, March 21, 2012

2102.03.21 Roger Haight, a BOTH/AND Hero

Last year I heard a talk I'll never forget: “If God Can Be Found In the Soul, Who needs Church?” by Roger Haight, S.J., author and theologian.

Haight offered radically new views for a Church of the future, things like full equality of men and women in church, de-clericalization and collegial exercise of authority, getting modest, being ecumenical and open to other faiths, letting go of control from the center.

AND, scandal of scandals: spiritual truth and sanctification can happen outside the Church.

Such things could be sweet or toxic to Roman Catholic ears.

The lecture hall was packed, mostly with older people like me, most of them women like me, and most of them Roman Catholics, like I once thought I wanted to be but, because of moral politics unfriendly to women,changed my mind. Nevertheless we all were hungry to hear new ideas, new images of our shared God.

Can we be one for Christ’s sake?

(I read “one” to mean mutually respectful and deliciously diverse.)

Haight, a mild-mannered, bespectacled, not bombastic, let's say Wally Peepers type, is scholar in residence at Union Theological School in New York City. He has lost his mandatum (papal authorization) to teach theology in Roman Catholic institutions. Ya think he’s teaching theology?

But he hasn’t lost his voice. His theology is dangerous; for example he titles one of his books “Jesus Symbol of God.”

Symbol? OR Very God of Very God? True God from True God, as our Nicene creed states? Obviously Jesus Christ for Christians is BOTH /AND and to separate divine from human is the big temptation, impossible to avoid and impossible not to avoid.

I sat rapt and wrote lots of notes. What I took away and will never forget came from the Q & A time. One woman asked Haight, “What shall we do? The Church isn’t listening?”

A: “Spiritual nourishment is a higher value than institutional loyalty. If you’re not fed feel free to move. Talk back.”

Whoever heard of a Catholic authority figure suggesting such things—in public? But he did and he is preaching a religion of BOTH/AND.

Thank Godde.