The Conclave: Does It Matter?

From a challenging reflection by Maggie Ross – Voice in the Wilderness: – on the current drama in Rome.

From where I sit, it is much too late to save institutional Christianity, and perhaps it is a mistake to try. The present institutional forms are burdened almost to a standstill by their mad, bad mistakes of the past, which hang around their figurative necks like Marley’s chains studded with a filigree of Ancient Mariner’s albatrosses—and for many of the same reasons in fact that beset those two old reprobates in fiction.

Christianities—as in the early churches—will survive here and there, but institutional forms have always been antithetical to the message of salvation: salvation that originally meant freedom from a debased culture and the persecution of one’s self-conscious mind, so that one might enter into the Christian community, a paradise of mutual support and service overflowing from the wellspring of life made available by the work of silence—or at least that was the ideal for the first nine centuries or so.

What today passes for Christianity—the idolatry of experience and the grandiosity of institutions that are for, by, and of the clergy—may continue to thrive for a while as fashions do, but in the end people will become bored of them and drift away. Much of Christian heritage has already been lost; unless there is a miracle of some sort, this election may cut the moorings that still attach us to the rest.


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