We Need Scandals?

by on December 15th, 2012
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The purposes served by religion and sports gives popular thought a convenient dodge; a step around the tripping stone in our heart. That dodge, that feint to the left before we go right, is really a stumble, then we trip and fall.

We cannot rid ourselves of scandal, and scandal is nothing more than our capacity to be scandalized. The two poles between which the current of scandal run is best seen by what happens to coaches-they are fired or they resign-and bishops-they neither suffer the first nor do the second.

The one pole is negatively charged and the other positively; the words are not used in a moral sense, for the poles are actually twins; that is, they can be substituted one for the other.

In order for the scandal to work, it has to allow us to hide reality behind a veil. The veil must tell us a good story with a comforting theme; the story must tell us that we are good and there are monsters among us and the monsters seek our children.

Like all good stories that one mostly tells the truth, (there are, after all, monsters among us), lying in just the right amount so that the lie won’t be noticed and we won’t understand that we’re, in fact, not very good after all since the monsters come from a darkness we can’t see for it lies within.

We fall for the scandal every time because we believe the lie-we set the tripping stone-that we, unlike everyone else, have a good society, we are a good place to live and raise our children.

The current between the poles runs strongest, however, in the talk between groups who are telling each other that they’re good; like when finding a priest to give the invocation at a sports banquet, or a coach encouraging his players to attend the church of their choice. It is easy to say that “we need each other,” it’s hard to see that “we’re the same.” That sameness constitutes the sacred.

The sacred is like an aura that clouds the mind; it takes the form of the saint’s halo and the athlete’s laurel. It is also a lie because it does not exist; or, rather, we give it all the existence it can have. The sacred looks eternal only because we pass it on from one generation to the next. The halo stays, and is even enlarged; the laurel becomes the national championship trophy; “there is no ‘I’ in team.

The halo stays because it is closer to the truth: underlying both the halo and the laurel is the Son of Man’s crown of thorns. There is an ‘I’ that will not be erased and that ‘I’ is very good. There are, however, still monsters among us.

The question that ensures we will still be scandalized by the next monster is this: What can we do to make sure that it won’t happen again?

The bishops provide their own spin: We now have stern measure in place; we are now accountable; we must do it for our children. We’re sorry. (Good for you.)

There is no sacred. There is nothing sacred about a national championship, there is nothing sacred about the Catholic Mass or that blood filled book we call The Bible. There is no profane either. There is only what is and only One made it.

We cannot make the good society for we always fall back on the distinction between the sacred and the profane, each using a preferred version. We can be brought in to the one communion and there take our place.

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