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Spotlight

I saw the movie Spotlight this past weekend. The setting is Boston in 2001. The new editor of the Boston Globe, Marty Baron, assigns a team of journalists to investigate allegations against a priest accused of molesting more than 80 boys. Their research reveals a culture of silence, secrecy, and judgment that shakes Boston and continues to reverberate through the Catholic Church to this day…14 years later.

For years, the Globe had received tips about clergy sexual abuse. Yet, connecting the dots and exposing the depth of the pattern occurred only when a Boston outsider, who was Jewish, had the courage to follow his intuition and commit the resources of the Spotlight team, each of whom had grown up as practicing Catholics in Boston. Two things became clear to me as I watched the story unfold: 1) The degree to which our biases blind us to seeing creative possibilities for action; and 2) Leadership means engaging with integrity.

The movie ends with a series of four screens listing more than 200 dioceses in the United States and around the world where clergy sexual abuse and cover-ups have occurred. As I walked out of the theatre, I felt nauseous. The last time I was nauseous at a movie was when I saw “Twelve Years a Slave” a few years ago. I felt guilt as a white American, complicit in dehumanizing behavior to black men, women and children.

This time I felt guilt for remaining loyal to the institution…for not naming sexual and spiritual abuse a casualty of the clerical culture and the “good Catholics” that protect it…for believing bishops and cardinals when they commit they’ve addressed issues in their dioceses. Perspective taking is easier when we see the story and feel the emotions of those most affected.

Spotlight is a movie I recommend everyone see and engage in conversation about. Dialogue is one way cultural change happens. A fact-based movie like Spotlight focuses awareness on deeply ingrained patterns of behavior that threaten and demand people sit down and shut up, pledge loyalty to schools they attended decades ago, or trust friends and colleagues in perpetuity, especially when a leader’s behavior (priest, monsignor, bishop, or cardinal) is out of integrity with the core value and mission of the organization they represent.

Hope is never lost, even when buried under the debris of corruption. It’s worth seeing and worth feeling whatever you feel. Processing what you feel frees you to expand your perspective and take creative action.

“Freedom is the ability to make a new decision about who we really want to be in life.”                                                                     ~Joan Chittister                                                                 

Photo credit: Stuart Miles and FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Epiphany by Janet McKenzie

What We See Colors Our Worldview

It was 2004 after my initial journey to West Africa that I was first exposed to Janet McKenzie’s multicultural art. It took me being a minority to feel the cognitive dissonance and realize how prevalent and out of place European art was in churches I visited in Ghana and Nigeria.

Here’s the thing. It only bothered me after I literally put myself into the shoes of the people around me and saw how narrow a perspective is reflected as Jesus in all his whiteness hangs on the crucifix when every person in the community is black.

The stark reality is that, as a white American woman, I stood out. As a child, I learned I was made in the image and likeness of God. Everything I saw reinforced that MY God was white and male… UNTIL I was exposed to a broader and deeper perspective. Travel accelerates shifts in one’s point of view.

The image above is “Epiphany” by Janet McKenzie (used with permission of the artist). In Holiness and the Feminine Spirit: the Art of Janet McKenzie, Katharine Jeffers Schori explains, “Epiphany is usually framed as ‘revelation to the nations,’ so that the good news of God in human flesh is available to all the peoples of this earth, not only the nation in which Jesus was born. The traditional way of understanding the wise ones who come to pay homage to the baby born in Bethlehem is that there must have been three, for three gifts are named, but also that they represented the known regions of the ancient world: Africa, Asia, and Europe…(Janet McKenzie) invites us into yet another awareness of what it means that Jesus is born for the whole world. All of humanity is represented in these figures: yes, women! (by whom we all come into the world)…This is about the ancient wisdom and ministry of women caring for other women as new life is brought into the world.”

Our worldview colors what we see. Katharine Jeffers Schori poses a question that each of us might ask ourselves today, Where do we meet and acknowledge and bless God in our midst? That is the largest challenge Epiphany presents. It seems most often to be about finding God in the unexpected and surprising.” 

What has to happen for us to be the wise men and wise women of our day?


Jefferts Schori, Katharine. “Epiphany.” Holiness and the Feminine Spirit: The Art of Janet McKenzie. Ed. Susan Perry. New York: Orbis Books, 2009. 46-50. Print.

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Where Did the Wise Men Come From?

Do you remember the wise men, sometimes referred to as astrologers, magi, or kings? Two thousand years ago, this group of learned, distinguished foreigners visited Jesus and brought valuable gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

They followed a star and when they arrived, they were welcomed!

Where did they come from?

Probably present day Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia or Yemen.

Each year we celebrate Epiphany and sometimes we experience epiphanies, sudden or striking realizations.

How many of us recognize the Christmas story is the story of a Middle Eastern family wandering in search of safe refuge?

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Can We Talk?

Dear Pope Francis:

Can we talk?

               Even if the door is closed?

                                                     What is our best next step?

                                                                                           Let me suggest we open the door and begin a dialogue?

Delighted to hear you encourage us to not hold back…be messy… to acknowledge the Spirit at work, especially in those not “part of our group” or “like us”…

At your final event in the United States, in Philadelphia, during the homily, what I heard was:

“God wants all his children to take part in the feast of the Gospel. Jesus says, “Do not hold back anything that is good, instead help it to grow!” To raise doubts about the working of the Spirit, to give the impression that it cannot take place in those who are not “part of our group”, who are not “like us”, is a dangerous temptation. Not only does it block conversion to the faith; it is a perversion of faith!”             

                                                                                                       ~Pope Francis

Assuming you are open to dialogue, please have your people call my people…better yet, since I don’t have people,  have your people call or email me.

In Joy,
Kathleen

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How’s Your Vision?

What happened the last time you had your vision checked?

Were you staring at a chart with a large “E” followed by lines of letters of decreasing size?

The standard eye test, developed in the late 1800s, uses the Snellen chart, named for its inventor, the Dutch ophthalmologist Herman Snellen. It was designed to find out if a child was able to see what the teacher wrote on a blackboard. Sight occurs in the eyes alone and is what the Snellen chart measures.

What’s the difference between sight and visionVision is the interplay between the eyes and the brain.

We humans are born with sight, but vision is learned.

The pictures we see exist not in our eyes but in our brains, where we give meaning to the messages accessed through our eyes.

About 80 percent of the information that reaches us comes through our eyes. Each eye sends the brain a billion messages every waking second. The eyes send twice as many messages as all the other senses combined.

What we see shapes what we imagine and contributes to what we believe is possible.

Perhaps it is time to test your vision. Start by answering these questions:

  • What do you imagine yourself doing?
  • When you look back on today, from 2018, what do you see yourself having accomplished?
  • What’s your next step to make your vision your reality?
  • Who can help you keep your vision alive?

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart.

Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”          

~ Carl Jung

Check your sight. Create your vision!