We who are gathered here are no wise a decisionmaking
body at all. We're not here to decide anything. But we're here
to dig out data that we can recommend to the decisionmaking
centers of the movement; the key of which probably these days,
beyond the total Order, is the Area Priors around the globe. They
will come together with the rest of us in September, and it would
be fine if between now and September that useful data and those
recommendations could be at hand. I may see a sizable number of
them this spring, and it would be fine if something came out of
our meeting today in any form, even in the fashion of guidelines,
that we hopefully would be using to reflect upon the issues at
hand, in the next few months, which would of course enable them
to get their stewing going.
I look upon today, though I don't know what the Lord
has in mind, as an exploratory moment. We've got together somewhat
of a crosssection of us. We wanted men who had secular wisdom
of various types, but who were very, very, very close to the Order
for this first meeting. If we meet in the future, which I would
expect that we would, we of course could call in anybody who has
the kind of expertise that our guidelines point out that we need.
Most of you are perhaps aware that in August, September,
October, November a group like this met to deal with our finances.
And it was fantastically remarkable to me what happened. And the
experts they called in were to me educators. I got an education.
I'm convinced of it. Anyway, I look forward to what will come
out of our time together. I have no idea what will be.
Perhaps I can remind you of where we are in terms
of the operating dynamics that relate to the decisions that determine
the actualization of our mission that we sometimes call the polity
structure. And then maybe we can look at a possible agenda.
However poorly, we're concerned with using ourselves
as guinea pigs who might in some modest way make some contribution
to our time in the whole arena of corporateness as it relates
to the decisionmaking processes. And you recollect that
we are concerned in polity with creating tensional systems out
of which we believe creativity will perpetually come. We at the
moment are concerned with complexing those tensional systems,
not taking the complexity out of them. And, rightly or wrongly,
this is to avoid an architectonic form of bureaucracy, or to say
it the other way is to push the bureaucracy to such limits that
a total body becomes that bureaucracy relatively speaking, which
takes away, hopefully, the possibility of the monstrosities Goodwin
described in the New Yorker, I guess it was, in those three articles
in which he summed it up by saying that the dragon of bureaucracy
today just operates. And if everybody on the earth dropped dead,
this old monster would just keep going, eternally. Somebody reminded
me of this science fiction story where this big bomber, absolutely
automatic, would come in, get reserviced, reloaded,
refueled, fly out and drop its bombs. And 20 years after
this bomber had destroyed everybody on earth, it was still coming
in, getting repaired, refueled, restocked, and dropping bombs
out where there was nothing left to kill.
Anyway, we want to avoid two things in our polity.
One is any form of the medieval hierarchical construct of politv.
And also, what is today I suppose beginning to worry more and
more people, and that's the bureaucratic revolution.
In order to do that we try to build a tension between
the global and the local. And in the local you have in this circle
84 Religious Houses around the world, 20 or 21 of which are Area
Houses. In our scheme of the world we have 54 Areas, and 21 of
them are developed. And I might say, that if we had the trained
forces, you could shove that down the road a huge way. I think
that probably the only Areas in which we will be temporarily deterred
will be China and Russia, at the moment. Anyway, I put up here
just the Area Houses. There ought to be, I think, 20 up there.
Around these are the satellites of the other Religious
Houses. Some of these do not have any satellites. Others have
maybe 12 or 13. Anyway, this represents the local dynamic. I might
say we tried to do this continentally, and I think we failed.
We used to think regionally. But there are 324 Regions,
and that seems too much to handle, so we settled on the 54 Areas
to represent the local. And we mean in the local politywise,
local autonomy. Local autonomy in our definition only exists when
that local does its local in a global context. This is what we
mean by the Xavier principle, to use our jargon. We are not interested
in the kind of local autonomy in which something over here is
running its little thing and over here its little thing and over
here its little thing. Each one of those locals is related to
My great illustration of that is one time I stopped
by to see Frank Hilliard in London, and Frank and I were pushing
it around a little bit, and he said to me, "Joseph, I want
you to understand that, though I'm the prior of the London Area,
I am responsible for the total mission of the whole Order across
the globe." Well that's local autonomy. What that means is
nobody finally is telling Hilliard what he ought to do over in
London. That doesn't mean, and I'll come to that in a moment,
that we do not have common operating structures. But Hilliard
could only fulfill what we mean by the local function if he not
only said but meant what he said about the globe. And I would
like to believe that these kinds of things that I'm saying, though
I'm using the jargon of untutored laymen in this area, potentially
would relate to the operation of any complex organization or institution
that happens to exist at this moment in history.
The global dynamic is what we call Centrums. They
must not be seen in geographica1 terms. Otherwise you're building,
I think, simply another invisible architectonic system. They have
to occupy space. But you're not interested in having one per continent
or one per area. Where the Centrum would be located in its multiplicity
would be determined by the degree of service that was needed by
the Religious Houses and matters of distance and these kinds of
things. For instance, there might be one in a sphere; there might
be another that would be continental. My guess here in North America,
and I'm sorry it happens this way because it has to do with Chicago,
is that it probably has to be continental. Maybe not. But in other
places, it could even be on an area level. For instance, Sydney,
which is so far away from everywhere, might very well have a Centrum
there. Jim Bishop some years ago, perhaps prematurely, set up
a separate house in Sydney that was to take care of all of Australia.
Looking back on it, he probably was pioneering the fact that Australia
maybe does need a Centrum, although I'm not pushing for that at
If you think in terms of what is immediately ahead,
I would say something like this. Maybe Centrums would be located
in four places in the world, like in Chicago and Hong Kong and
Bombay and maybe Brussels or London. Or maybe this one in Hong
Kong ought to be in Singapore, which could reach Sydney a little
easier than Hong Kong. In these Centrums, Chicago, due to fate,
would always be in one sense a home base probably. Maybe one day
not. They tell me that Beirut is the point in the world which
is easier for all people by air lines to convene. Well, it could
be that something like that would overcome the fate-filled symbolism
that Chicago is. But it would have to be something like that,
Now, secondly, though we use the word "Centrums,"
when we use the plural, it does not apply to this kind of spatial
diffusion. There is one Centrum. Though it may have four manifestations,
there is only one. This is global, and if you had a multiplicity
of Centrums, you could not maintain the tension between the global
and the local. However, we do use the plural of Centrum, and that
refers to the dynamics in Centrum itself. We call these Centrums,
these four things (Centrums) within a centrum which is all of
this, and these, as you know, are Research, Development, Operations,
and Management. Here in Chicago all of these are now going. Rick
Loudermilk and Art Smith pulled off the Management Centrum as
an independent entity standing on its own feet, so all four of
these are operating.
Actually, the foundational philosophy underneath
all of this is just stark naked platonism, in which he said any
government is made up of oligarchy you've got to transpose
that into the postmodern world oligarchy or
aristocracy and democracy. In our language, power centers first
of all rest in the total community. That's what we mean by consensus.
The aristocracy was carved in the past by the seven families that
moved from Austin, Texas to Chicago. About three years ago, they
began to fade into nothing, at the pain of some of them. New leadership
emerged in the community, but none of that had been very self-conscious.
We were so small that we operated by town meetings. This only
by necessity. When you have a huge number at town meetings, you
can't hire twenty-eight 747s to fly people to one place, and too
many of us operate this way anyway. And it will be increasingly
Now this is the Area priors (the Aristocracy). Then
the monarchy, and this has happened in our day, as always. This
is symbolic. That was their basic power, though they snatched
power from here in the perversion of this. This is sticking out
as sheer symbolism. Without this, this nor this could operate.
That's behind it. Last September, we had the first Area Priors'
Council. This next year we're going to have to have it far more
systematically. I tell you this burns the hell out of me. I just
shudder at systems. That's right. What I fear is hierarchical
systems. Not systems in which these development people would be
working together, for commonness; the operations people working
together for commonness. Oh, I mean these people here would be
working with these people for commonness. And so with the others.
And also these commission people would be working with the representatives
from those commissions to get a common operating consensus for
at least one year. Whenever you would have such things as Area
Prior Councils you would be dealing with Oligarchy. Then we've
got to have this. Councils here. But I tell you, I'm hard put.
I even hate to go to representationalism. As soon as you've done
that, you've already moved into Oligarchy. But we've got to find
ways where consensus is on the local level. That, to be honest
with you, I don't quite see. How are we going to do it? If you
had $600,000,000,000, we could get together and wouldn't it be
These Centrums, as we look at them, have to do with
our mission, our task in all its forms. And in each one of these
locations there would be a dynamic. There would be one of these
dynamics that we call Centrums. But then, to overcome the geographic
connotation, it's like there would be one Development Centrum
around the world. And we are much further down the road on this
than even, oh, two months ago I dreamed. We are on the way. It
looks as if in the next couple of months we will get $80,000 out
of two foundations in West Germany. That's interesting, isn't
it? Or you think that last year Joe Thomas raised roughly $96,000
in SEAPAC. For us that's a miracle. It looks like a foundation
in Great Britain is going to give us $20,000 for work in India
in the next couple, few months.
And these are just illustrations that this is already
beginning to happen. The men in Europe are raising money for their
own operation. Yes, and I would want to make this clear. Keep
in our mind all day long that money we raise is program money.
And this next year that'll be $2,000,000, I suppose. And then
the money that we live off of, the food and inoutoftherain
costs we earn ourselves would be $5,000,000 including all the
Religious Houses overseas. I think it's important that we see
this and keep it clear. It also makes our polity more delicate.
Nobody gets paid nothing, so to speak. Anyway you see this. And
then you'd have to draw circles that relate these others. There
is one Research net around the globe. Not four or nine. There
is one Management net around the world. And one Operations net.
Now the interior life, and we're not so clear on
this, is taken care of by what we call commissions. And the commissions
do not make the Operating decisions. They are the guardians that
keep the decisions somewhat coordinated where they relate to our
internal life. And one of these is the Assignment Commission
if you want to use other language, this is personnel. But for
us the crucial thing relative to glue and polity are these long
sheets of assignments that come out. Not only in terms of where
we're stationed for a year, but in terms of where we go to teach
with those two suitcases that are always packed, as well as innumerable
other places where your fate is decided for you by somebody else.
One of these is the Fiscal Commission. And one of these is what
we call the Interior Life Commission. This has to do with personnel
relative to the task. This has to do with interrelationships within
our group, which as large as we are now is increasingly complex.
And these people watch over that. And then we have the Legal Commission.
These commissions do not make decisions in one sense.
They review decisions. They watch over decisions. Fundamental
decisions, say thinking just of Centrum for a moment, are made
by these four Centrums within Centrums. For instance, there isn't
someone that's up above the Management that lays out a policy
for Management to follow. Management makes the decisions. And
so with Development. And so with Operations.
Then we also have another complication, and that
is that we divide ourselves up into Congregations. We have four
Congregations. And this is the arena in which the total body takes
care of each other. When you boil it down, that's what it is.
And yet in one sense it belongs here, because, if you're trying
to locate what we used to call power centers where decisions are
made, those Congregations are absolutely crucial. They make decisions
on behalf of all of us. And this would be replicated in each one
of these. How they would be interrelated I am not quite sure.
As a matter of fact, this whole arena is still fuzzy for us, but
I think we have gone far enough to see that it is absolutely crucial
to us. And I suppose clarity will come as we move on.
We have five people within our group here at Centrum,
I mean within a Centrum, who are on these commissions that relate
to the Centrum dynamic here in Chicago, which is the only one
that's realistically existing at the moment. But ever since the
Guardians have really moved, we have used them as an extension
of these commissions. Now the next time you meet, I think we probably
would need to open up this group and bring in some other Guardians
who are not directly a part of the Order. Right now we're exploring,
to do a little thinking ourselves. Each one of these commissions
would function in that fashion. Some of you who were here last
summer remember that we had a group of maybe 25 people, some of
whom did not belong to the Order, who were making assignments
of us for the year. One of them has since joined the Order (Bob
Booher.) I used to walk in there and say, "God, who is that
eating up our destiny?" But it is clearly interesting that
it doesn't make any difference. It doesn't make any difference.
The job needed to be done, needed to he done rationally. And obviously
we know in our day (they didn't know a hundred years ago, I suppose)
there are as many different schemes of rationality as there are
stars in the sky. There isn't one.
Now here in the last part of this, oh yes, now, these
Houses are not under Centrums. There is this kind of a tension
constantly out of which consciousness is born. Of course this
whole scheme is based on what man has become aware of simply in
our lifetime, really that consciousness is born of tension, not
as the psychologist would like to think, otherwise. We now are
coming to have awe before tension, not simply fear of it. Fighting
is a part of life. Deep down below anything you and I can look
at. And when that goes, then consciousness is gone.
Now you had to have a symbolic dynamic. And the symbolic
dynamic in this is neither global nor local, and it's transparent.
And therefore must always be nothing. Like I've often said, at
least once a year they ought to get together the Panchayat and
everybody piss on them to keep reminding them that they are nothing.
They are not a group of people who send out orders to the uttermost
parts of the earth. I don't think we're clear on even what we
mean when we say this is symbolic, but we're clear on a few items
related to it. And that is that they are not what in the cast
were the head men. Any of them. Also, you are quite well aware
that what we call the Panchayat now, the five, has almost become
Mickey Mouse, not because anybody makes it Mickey Mouse, but because
that group could not even possibly represent this dynamic we're
spelling out, although it was through that group that we have
learned what we have learned. In the meantime, they are operating
in this little hunk of the whole scheme as if they were this.
The day after tomorrow, this global Panchayat has got to come
into being. What that would look like and how you go about it,
I do not know. It may very well be that you're going to have to
have a symbolic Panchayat that is composed of portions of symbolic
Panchayats especially you young ones are going to
have to think hard in that area. Now I also believe myself, though
I'd be hard put to make a speech on this, that that kind of thing
is your new kind of executive coming into being. You almost don't
want to call him an executive any more. I mean top echelon executive.
I don't know much about how this is directly related to corporations,
for instance multinational corporations, but my intuition says
that there is a relationship. And that maybe they would be some
of the most important resources for us to learn from and for us
to adjust anything that we have learned now.
One or two things. That's pretty well our dynamic.
If you'll notice, you've got a tension between the local and the
global, and you have another tension between the symbolic and
the global and between the symbolic and the local. But it's a
tensional untension. That's part of where, I think, in the future
you're going to have to do some hard thinking. We know now that
there is power in symbolism. But it is a different kind of power
than you're dealing with in other places. You have your tension
in the Centrums, and you have your tensions here in your areas.
And you have your tensions within each one of the manifestations
of Centrum. Some of my colleagues who I think, I don't ask them
to agree with me, still operate in the architectonic image, this
drives them absolutely haywire. But I believe you must not simplify
these tensions. You have to complex them. And when I accuse them
of that which I did there, I've got to say that's in me too. The
way I accuse them of thinking is also in myself.
There are probably some long established principles
that will come out today and the next times we meet. And I'll
not try to pull those out right now, except one. The decision
is already made and has been made for years that we are one body
and not two or three or 84. We are one. And let's say that's a
basic presupposition. How you hold this multifaced monster
together as one is where our underlying problem is. Some of the
issues, then, in the broad picture are: Those relating to ownership
of property. Those relating to the interchange of moneys, banking,
currency transferal, that kind of thing. Those relating to the
legal constructs in many places. Matters having to do with trust
laws. And with taxes of a variety or sorts that I do not even
understand. Then all of these matters and more that you know of
have to be seen through, at least for me, two sets of glasses.
One is through our nation. Minus the ones in Canada, you've maybe
got 42 Houses in this country. And then internationally. Now you
may come up with a scheme in which you don't have two things.
At the moment, in my mind, we've got two sets of practical problems:
how we get this done in this country; and then, secondly, how
we get it done around the world.
Joseph W. Mathews