[Springboard] [Oe List ...] An Answer to Jim
jfwiegel at yahoo.com
Sun Oct 25 15:24:05 CDT 2009
Just incidentally, Herman, your reply (I must confess I am no longer sure what the original question was. . . ) was the 7,499th message on this list serve since late 2005.
"The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world's problems." Mohandas Gandhi
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From: Charles or Doris Hahn <cdhahn at flash.net>
To: Order Ecumenical Community <oe at wedgeblade.net>
Sent: Sun, October 25, 2009 10:13:27 AM
Subject: Re: [Oe List ...] An Answer to Jim
I have read many persons reflections on the Order and their time in it. However, i cannot remember one as comprehensive, as particular, and as affirming. The fact that you pointed out our weaknesses, while at the same time seeing the gift in it all, is a real gift to me. Thanks and thanks again.
From: Herman Greene <hgreene at greenelawnc.com>
To: Order Ecumenical Community <oe at wedgeblade.net>
Sent: Saturday, October 24, 2009 8:52:03 PM
Subject: [Oe List ...] An Answer to Jim
I would like to pick up on Jim’s question of how facilitation differs from what we were about with RS-1 and also Carlos’s comments. And I would like to pose a new question on which I will also comment. The question is “What in the life of the Ecumenical Institute and its teaching was/is most important to you?”
I joined the order approximately the same time Calvin did, fall of 1967. And we both began our studies at the University of Chicago Divinity School at that time. (John the problem with Calvin, as I recall, was that he left the University of Chicago Divinity School after two years and enrolled at UTS.) I actually began my life at EI, however, by coming to Summer 1967 and I stayed on in the fall. (I did take a month off in August. I think my parents were a little surprised by my new comprehensive, intentional and futuric style and that I maintained a timeline . . . which continued through graduate school. It eventually was broken into 15 minute blocks and that is the amount of time Joy and I allowed each week for smooching for quite a few months.)
I wouldn’t call EI my “ideal community” but I would say that the nicest people I ever met, I met there. I had and have tremendous respect for so many people with whom I lived during those years.
Joy and I left in 1975. Nathan was two at the time and I think he had established himself as the biggest eater and toughest guy in the Kemper pre-school. (Joy taught there, so she got to be a mother too.) Joy left for me and I left because I was desolated. Part of that I now know was depression and only a part of that was situational. I later discovered I had a drinking problem which is another story, and I have been sober now for 23 years. No one would have known because I was a closet drinker and drinking was a kind of self-medication for depression. (Depressants for depression is a losing battle, but is a common story for many people who are alcoholic.)
In the year before we left we had studied The Dark Night of the Soul as a group. Looking back, I felt this was a device to say if you are feeling terrible you are on a spirit journey or you are apostate. I remember people saying, well I guess it was Joe, that people who leave the Order are “Traitors of the Spirit.”
I wrote a long letter to Joe before I left and gave it to him. I saved a copy, but lost it after awhile. I left with the intention of going to law school – this thought literally came to me in a dream, but the idea that I could be a lawyer came from working with the North Shore group while I lived in the North Shore Religious House. I knew I wasn’t too good at nurturing people as a pastor, I was too rational—an emotion became a thought for me, something I later understood when I learned my Myers Briggs type (INTP). I identified with the lawyers in the North Shore group, though it was five years after the North Shore House that I left the order to head in that direction.
Everything Joy and I had fit into the back of a mid-sized station wagon, and I think we had about $125 to our name. We weren’t “vested” in the Order’s pension plan, such as it was, and took nothing with us from what had been set aside from our stipend. We went to live with my Aunt in North Carolina .
I didn’t have resentments against the Order that I can remember. At the age I was, though, I had to go through some thoughts of how I was right and “they” were wrong. I didn’t have any significant contact with Order folk until 2000 until I went to the Millennium Event in Denver . Joy went to Joe’s funeral but I did not.
I can see I could go on in this vein for quite awhile but I’m not getting to the matters in the first paragraph. Let me only say for those whom I haven’t spoke with about this, Joy and I were separated in 1985 after we returned to her home town of Denver . Divorce was the most painful thing I ever went through. I admire Joy to this day and neither of us was ever critical of the other. I remarried in 2000 to Sandi Payne. Joy remarried in 1988 I believe. She continues to live in Denver . We had one child after we left the Order, Brendan. Nathan, now 36, currently lives in LA, works in television production and will marry next summer (and intends to move back to Denver then). Brendan, now 32, works for the Immigrant Rights Association of Denver. I am living in Chapel Hill, NC, with Sandi, nearing the end of my law practice (though it’s not over yet) and as Jim Wiegel pointed out, I am quite involved with the ideas of Thomas Berry and expect my
remaining days to be largely devoted to ecological issues, more specifically ecology and human culture.
I have watched from afar as I have seen my Order colleagues travel the world and do amazing things. I never had an international assignment and probably could not have handled it then. I realize the focus of the work changed in stages after I left and the life of the community changed. I think I know a little more about ICA than the transitions in the life of the community, which must have been very difficult.
I am amazed at all of the human development projects. I’m amazed that the roles people have played. I saw Rob Work in September and learned of his work with the UN. I met people from all over the world at the Millennium Connection and heard there stories of what ICA meant for them. I have heard the anguish of the Order children and have also seen many become incredible adults.
I know I am very different because of my life in the Order. Maybe this is the first time I have really stopped to think how. What I think was the greatest gift of the Order to me was learning how to translate religious language into one’s own experience. I think there is more to religious language than one’s own experience, but if one cannot look beyond the literal meanings of the language, then religion becomes a set of facts and beliefs, and messes with your mind and your relationships. I wish everyone could have the experience of understanding religious language and meaning this way.
The second thing that strikes me about what I learned was “Commitment.” When we committed to do something in the Order, it got done . . . well, most of the time. I haven’t read Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life and I suspect without knowing that he gives a pious interpretation to that. What I learned in the Order though is that we are meant to live purpose-driven lives. In the Order while we had the world as a context, we narrowed our focus quite a bit. Not being in the Order I have had to understand purpose in the midst of complexity and a variety of needs and without the illusion that I can control the world or determine the outcome of things. Nonetheless, I’m still pretty driven to make a difference and I think the Order was a major influence on that.
The next thing that occurs to me is “Integrity.” I don’t know of a group of individuals who I felt had more integrity. What impressed me was not the secondary integrity we talked about but the primary integrity. For the most part, the people of the Order had solid cores and they were giving of themselves fully everyday. I have always felt the need to continue to live out that kind of integrity.
I may have to stop with “Hope” though when I began to write I never thought I would have this list. The ‘sixties were hopeful and no group was more hopeful than we were. We truly believed we could change the world. I believe we did, in local churches, in getting the church involved in social issues, in Fifth City and later around the world. I know lives were changed by RS-1.
We could have done even better than we did, I think, if we had been more open to letting things develop in people’s lives without always narrowing the focus to the next course to take and getting people into the Academy and the Order. Yet, if we hadn’t done that we would not have grown from a little over 100 in 1967, to 1,500 people in 22 countries when I left.
It wasn’t perfect, but it was what it was. If I have a regret it was what we put families through, especially the children. This is something we have gone over before. Those things that were hurtful can’t be changed now, and the hurt can’t be dismissed by a simple “nevertheless” but people can still go on and heal and be healed and draw strength from their total experience.
I went to the Springboard retreat at Lake Junaluska a couple of years ago. John Cock quoted me as telling him that the Order was my primary community. I don’t think I actually put it that way, but there is truth to it. I came of age there. The Order was my family and in significant ways it still is. You never really leave your family. It is in your blood.
Herman F. Greene, Esq.
Greene Law, PLLC
2516 Winningham Drive
Chapel Hill , NC 27516
hgreene at greenelawnc.com
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