Saturday, 24 February 2007

By the pricking in my thumbs...

I stood apart, a few yards away, whilst they looked at the dead animal on the ground. Though very fond of the younger friars, something held me back from joining their circle. Deeply uneasy, I watched their white habits swirl about them as they changed angles and rapid-fired comments and questions like machine guns: "Oh my G-d." "What could have done this?" "Look at that." "Why kill it and not carry it off to eat?" "It looks like it just killed for the sake of it." "What do you think?"

I kept observing. One piped up, "It was probably a wolf." "Yeah, it looks like a wolf did this." "A wolf." "Yes, definitely, no question. A wolf." "What was that Our Lord said about a wolf in sheep's clothing?" "You're right." "Mystery solved." They started to walk away.

Horrified by this example of groupthink, I tried to shout, "No. This is *wrong*, evil. Wolves DON'T BEHAVE LIKE THIS. THEY DON'T KILL FOR PLEASURE. LISTEN TO ME,"
but no sound came out. I knew I was partial to wolves, since friends had once coined me an alpha female wolf, but I was certain not all was as it seemed.

Suddenly, I found myself walking quickly along a country lane, flanked by shoulder-high golden wheat. I was thinking, "We have to get to the bottom of this. I'm sure it wasn't wolves. *WHAT* kills for pleasure? Weasels? Hmmm. That's very 'Dark is rising'." As I thought, I looked down and saw a fox hidden in the wheat at the side of the road and nodded to him; a few yards later, I did the same to a rabbit. "Where are the wolves?" I wondered. Suddenly, a mangled, bloodied animal appeared at my feet. I stopped, went to move it with my toe, then knelt, and looked carefully. "Those don't look like wolf bitemarks," I thought, relieved. "The teeth are smaller and sharper...and...*weasels*? Is that right?"

Suddenly, a sinuous, black form crossed my path and stood over the body. I looked into its unnaturally red eyes and said, "Clever. Do the killing, let the wolves take the blame, since everyone sees them as an enemy already.The only thing that would make it perfect would be if you were where no one will ever look - the hierarchy."

"Who says I'm not?"

I sat up in bed and looked at the clock. Nearly ten. I leaned back, fully awake, aware that sleep wasn't going to happen and probably shouldn't. I showered, poured my Special K, and sat in front of Hallmark's House, M.D. weekend, letting the analysis percolate in my subconscious.

Wilson: That smugness of yours is a really attractive quality.
House: Thank you. It was either that or get my hair highlighted. Smugness is easier to maintain.


Key dream points:

1. The group was made up of young religious, but it isn't about those particular individuals.
They symbolised how I feel about many of the Catholics who surround me: not looking deeply enough, going with the crowd, unquestioning, naive, unable to think out of the box, measuring their 'goodness' by the rules they follow, and believing, "It's all soooooo perfect!!"
It's a mindset incapable of seeing danger on the horizon and one that will look in the wrong direction for danger once it is impossible to ignore.

2. I knew them all well, consider them friends, but I hung back. That is very much how I feel about Catholicism - there is much about that I love: the sacraments, the core story - but I have never felt fully part of it and expect that I never will. I suspect that would surprise most people who know how involved I have been at church, that my day is spent working in a priory and how fond I am of the respective communities. Knowledge, awareness and affection doesn't equate with a sense of belonging to the institution as a whole.

3. I feel alone in my questioning, in my need to get to the truth of things, in my hatred of glib, easy answers. I'm not, as evidenced by the fox and the rabbit hiding in the wheat, and the wolves I sensed nearby, but I often feel it.

4. As per the tornado dream around Christmas, I will take on danger alone, and perhaps I need to learn to trust someone enough to take them with me.

5. I identify with the 'wolves' being accused of tearing the Church apart - questioning liberals. The problem is, Catholicism attracts those who need certainty and who want easy answers. They want someone to tell them what to do. These are people who *need* to feel "We're the best. It's us against the world," because they're unable to hold on to a solid sense of identity whilst someone disagrees with them. They're threatened by a point of view different from theirs that is *equally valid*, so they need to ridicule, bully and threaten. Anyone who dares to poke questions at that safe, neat worldview will always be seen as a threat.

6. The real threat is within the Church, well-hidden behind 'orthodoxy' and deeply entrenched. I've always believed that, and part of the proof comes in how the hierarchy handled child molestation in the States: protect the institution at all costs. You cannot try to protect the institution at the expense of what is right. Once you start worshipping the institution as all-important, you're doing the weasels' work for them - creating something hollow and easy to take down.

Hmmm. That's it for now, I think. Comments welcome. Back to House, M.D.:

House: Well, there's the fever that Cameron was looking for.
Cameron: We knew if it was myelitis there had to be an -itis. This must be the infection that set it off.
House: Yeah. Except in this universe effect follows cause. I've complained about it, but...


Anonymous said...

A few points: 1. Not thinking deeply enough, or at least not going far enough into a bad situation (for whatever reason). You really hit the nail on the head there, for a lot of matters in the church. 2. Blaming it all on wolves. In this instance in your dream, it would almost seem that their (=the friars) easy object of blame is the thinking intelligent woman. They may try to be nice or considerate, but I wonder how much prejudice against women (and how they think, what they say, especially if it goes contra to what they deeply feel or know) is still operating on a more subconscious level? 3. On another level, the wolf in your dream representing a scapegoat. Who else in the church is an easy object of blame? I'm sure you can think of various ones - try gay men, for example... Many gay men whom I know would be and are horrified at child abuse - but hey! They're different from us - it must be them... 4. Now you've found your scapegoat sit back and relax. Get a double dose of smugness, blame it on women or gays or whoever is unfortunate enough to stick out or differ enough from mainstream 'us', and only realise your mistake when it is too late. 5. Thank goodness that you saw the rabbit and fox, and know that you are not alone in your thoughts - but it would appear to be that it is only the little or insignificant people who agree with you. But sometimes the little people will grow or are greater than any official deigns to realise? (Ask yourself who Jesus said would inherit the earth?) 6. As someone who is mainstream Catholic, at least let me say that you are not the only Catholic who does not always feel part of it however much you may join in things - do I feel I belong thoroughly? Would I even want to? Will I ever want to?

Anonymous said...

PS. Just after I submitted the previous comment it occurred to me - there is one galling thing! The friars are sort of right in that the danger may well be someone in disguise in sheep's clothing. Their conception of wolf is wrong, but the idea that it is someone or something dressed appropriately with all the right words expressions etc is only too true. A pity that they do not go further and back off at a simple solution that is on the one hand right and on the other hand horribly and disastrously wrong...