Two figures – they could be out of Beckett – shuffle on to the stage. One represents darkness, stupidity, density; the other I think of as "occasional sparks of brilliance." Bereavement rendered me stupid. I couldn't think. The trauma of it seemed to break my connection to my previous life, as though the event had brought my own 'old life' to an end but at the same time I had to continue going through the motions of a life.
After a few years I found my way to the Mass of the Catholic Church. A place of respite, of refuge; it seemed to make sense, give a form to what could barely be put into words. One way of looking at it might be that the Church grew, expanded, developed following the traumatic loss of Jesus. Jesus, God incarnate, his only son, murdered by us, a sacrifice for us, lifted up to his father's side, and the promise to return to us. The Mass enters into and remembers the crime, the loss, the sacrifice, the rising . . . we too can rise from this . . . in death.
Does the Church merely wish to lock us into endless bereavement, the guilt of the survivor? I wish it were that simple. There is also talk of love and the freedom to be what we really are . . . but always in the light (yoke) of obedience to authority.
Yet to grow up is to assume that authority ourselves. It is stunning to bear in mind how recent it is that we've taken on the exploration of full democracy, the rights of and the respect for each individual life. And the argument is not finished; there are many among us whose instinct is to clamour for authority.
It appears self-evident to me that the Church should be on the side of democracy but its own psychological and organisational structures are monarchical and habitually non-trusting. A state which leaves it seeming to pull against us. Instead, what would it take for the Church to celebrate our long and problematic growing-up? Rather than (as it sometimes appears) enmeshing itself in a sulking ressentiment.
Don Cupitt, in his Jesus and Philosophy, marks the line of moral teachers from Jesus, through Blake and Dostoyevsky to Nietzsche. Those four have made and continue to make the wires hum. This reminds me of the impact they had on me: Jesus in my childhood/adolescence, the latter three in my late teens/early twenties as I pretended to saunter nonchalantly into adulthood during the late sixties/early seventies – informing my notions of morality.