|Absolute Must Read: the Church Continues to Betray Its Soul in Exchange for Temporal Power
By Dr. Jim Jenkins
Voice from the Desert
January 13, 2010
In this response to Joey Piscitelli’s recent reflection on the John Jay College study, my San Francisco Bay Area clinical psychologist friend Dr. Jim Jenkins provides significant insights, including the historical roots, into numerous Church dysfunctional behaviors.
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Response to Joey Piscitelli’s Reflection on the John Jay Study
Joey Piscitelli, writing in the Voice of the Desert (January 9, 2010), has it dead-on right about the church hierarchy’s 1700 year history of betrayal of the charismatic beginnings of the Christian movement started by Jesus, John the Baptist, and their immediate followers.
Joey is also right about the sordid and bloody historical connection between the persecution of women and children as “witches,” epitomized by the blood-thirsty Inquisition, and the serial criminal rape and sodomy of thousands of children and vulnerable adults by bishops and priests in the modern era.
In my opinion, this centuries-long tradition of criminal cruelty and abuse is a clinical symptom of an endemic of deep emotional and psychological dysfunction, which has both personal and social pathological dimensions.
If this deadly cancer is not checked and excised from the body of the church, its metastatic corruption will continue and undermine its very existence.
We may well be looking at the terminal stages of the Christian movement, at least the Roman Catholic version, in our own times.
There have been other historical instances of this kind of nexus between personal and social pathologies that vexed the human family. In the twentieth century, it took an alliance of the whole world to defeat fascism, and its evil cousin communism.
The church very early on in its development (in about the 3rd century) decided to forfeit its counter-cultural identity and influences to allow it to be co-opted by the prevailing dominant political culture of the then Roman Empire.
In a deal or swap with the dominant culture, the early church traded its charisms of healing, reconciliation, and peace in order to accept a place among the ruling elite of its time.
This is the very historical period when Christian art began to envision Jesus not as a simple carpenter born in a staple, healing the sick, announcing the “good news” of the reign of God within us, but a king, crowned, regally robed and sitting in judgment of the world.
Maybe at the time, it looked like a good deal: no more persecutions and the church would now in exchange become part of maintaining the political and social order of the state.
No longer the persecuted meeting in secret catacombs to celebrate the “agape” over the interred remains of the martyrs. Now the church would become part of the politically dominant power structure.
Regrettably, this dance with the devil cost the church dearly: the church had to betray is soul in exchange for temporal power, which unfortunately continues to this day.
Recently, I was traveling with my family in Italy where I was struck by monument after monument testifying to this imperial power of the popes, especially in Rome. These supposed “servants of the servants of God” have decorated the Italian landscape with out-sized, larger than human scale tributes to their own papal folly.
It wasn’t until the 11th century that the church would seek to solidify this deal with the adoption of mandatory celibacy for its clerical elite bishops and priests. The church now demanded that men, if they were to be admitted to this cadre of politically powerful elites, had to make an exchange of sex for political power.
Not the first time in history, but certainly the most widespread social and cultural imposition, and effective, form of political control in human experience.
The perverse sexual predation of the weak and defenseless women and children in the centuries yet to come until our own day is the best evidence of the pathological corruption of the church’s fateful decision to abandon its charismatic origins for political power.
Where Jesus was able to resist the temptations in the desert (Mt: 4; Lk: 4) for political power, the church willingly whored itself out for a “kingdom of this world.”
Now after so many centuries, the enmeshments are so constricting, the church may never be able to disentangle the knots and bonds that enslave it.
If this rebirth and renewal has a chance of ever surviving, let alone enduring, imitating the early Christians, we will have to wash ourselves clean in the blood and sacrifice of survivor martyrs like Joey Piscitelli.
I have to believe that Jesus would enjoy the delicious irony of a pagan saving the church from, and for his followers!
The path ahead is clear: LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE!
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