Global Centrum: Global Priors Council, Chicago ,
August 26, 1974
For a long time, we have said we were about three things: Penetration,
Formation and Permeation. The categories were always a little
vague to me but Penetration, it seemed, had to do with geography,
Permeation, with the social and Formation with the Movement. Whatever
else we were about, we knew we were concerned with covering all
the earth and, in the process, with making sure we touched all
of the people. That we did by being a Movement. Our Penetration
strategy has taught us to find our way through the geography of
the earth. Now we must learn to find our way through its sociology
and that is the function of the Pressure Points. The Pressure
Points have to do with the "socio," with taking the
complexity of the social vehicle we live in and giving it new
I want to talk about four things: first, that this is a time of
demonstration, second, we can be of help in demonstration; third,
what is needed for demonstration; and fourth, what are the criteria
Every time a new social vehicle has come into being, three things
have been involved. First, there is a piety or a vision or a mythology
which freights the Mystery. In Tillich's speech on the significance
of the history of religions for the systematic theologian, he
talks about the symbols one holds before the presence of the Mystery.
He says these symbols allow civilizations to be open to the future.
Second, a social vehicle always involves a people. If no people
had decided to be the United States, then this social vehicle
would never have come into being. Furthermore, if that people
had not created symbols and a new vision to hold the reality they
were over against, their vehicle would not have survived.
Third, they needed a method, or mode of action to effectively
engage in the world.
It is clear that the old social vehicle is going rapidly out of
being. The Church is collapsing. However that collapse is a sign
of possibility because it means the end of a piety that froze
human beings, preventing them from responding to the new
world we live in. The church is not going to pass away. Its old
form and symbol system are going to be replaced by a new form
and symbol system. The passing away of the piety of the old social
vehicle means that a new piety is coming into being.
We are in the midst of a political collapse. I have lost count
of the governments that have fallen by the way side since the
beginning of this year. In this country at least, the populace
took a tun1 some time after 1968 but those who were running the
government did not see the people take the turn. All of a sudden,
in the midst of Watergate, the people realized that the leadership
was not enacting the will of the people and the leadership realized
that the people were in no authentic way related to what was going
on. That was underneath the governmental collapse in this country,
which demonstrated that a dimension of polity is going out of
being and a whole new set is coming into being. The collapse in
vocation, the crisis of engagement, the deep sense of inability
to deal relevantly with the world we live in all point to the
collapse of relevant modes of engagement.
The New Social Vehicle has no moral content. It is not ''right"
or "wrong"; it is simply coming into being. It is not
anything you or I are creating, but something new emerging. God
is working a new creation right in our midst. We did not predict
that the economic dynamic would mature nor that the economic community
would become the first global community. We may not like what
has happened but that is the way it is. Our only question is how
to relate to what is. How do we impact what the Lord is bringing
into being to allow it to be worth it, to be creative? How is
the word "creative" defined? Creative is not simply
doing what we want; that is not the way God acts. A new social
vehicle is coming into being and our job is to expend our freedom
to allow it to happen, to allow it to be human. At the same time,
we know that is not finally in our hands to decide. This deep
shift which has taken place in the emergence of the new social
vehicle is like the shift we describe in the God lecture in RS1.
Social transparency has happened. The Mystery has again intruded
in the midst of the world and called into question every dimension
of the social vehicle that freighted humanness until this century.
The time of awakening is over. People are no longer shocked to
realize a new social vehicle is coming into being. I believe we
have even passed the pause that occurred after the disestablishment
began to collapse in the late '60's. We are in a time of Resurgence,
which means the question has become a practical one. It is a question
of how: how do you go about building this new reality?
It is a time of demonstration not of carrying signs
to awaken people but of showing them the way. It is not that we
are starting demonstration projects but rather everything we do
is now demonstration. Now, even RS1 is a demonstration,
a demonstration of the church renewed. I think we used to feel
audacious when we read Kazantzakis the first time: "Burn
your houses, smash your ideas." It is not like that anymore.
The Church is falling apart and reaching out for help. We can
be of help. We have a very personal sense of involvement. What
we have on our hands is not weight, but immensitythe immensity
If we had any real idea of what we are doing in the new social
vehicle we probably would fall into pride. Our very confusion
protects us from that fall. What is required is what we learned
this summer about Love in I Corinthians 13. We are required to
stand in the midst of that which is and to operate. That is how
we can be of help.
There are several things helping us to help. First, we understand
globality. We are past the romanticism of thinking that globality
has to do with going somewhere or with showing up in a number
of places. We know that globality is commonality. A global RS1
is not one with black, white, red, tan and yellow people in it;
a global RS1 is one taught in the nearest small town in
a way that could be taught in any small town in the world. RS1
is a global course because you know that when anyone in the world
goes through the course, his life will be changed. That does not
depend on the particularities of any pedagogue, either. In the
same way, 5th City is a global experiment because we know that
exactly what happened on the West Side of Chicago can happen all
over not because 5th Cities are showing up around
the world. This insight is one we have to share with the world.
The New Social Vehicle is a global social vehicle, which means
it is one vehicle; it is the same. If something we do in North
America cannot be duplicated anywhere in the world, then it is
of no help to the global social vehicle. Whatever deed we do,
to be a global deed it must be duplicable anywhere on earth; it
must be relevant to every human being. That is one of our gifts.
An inescapable Xavierism overcomes you when you realize that to
succeed in your post in a way that is not replicable anywhere
in the world, is not to succeed at all.
Second, we can deliver. We not only have created reduplicable
instruments, we have created a global network which gets things
done. The revolution only happens in locale after locale after
locale. A LENS course at the United Nations will not bring the
NSV into being. We have learned how to do miracles in one locale
so that they can be delivered to every other locale in the world.
The Local Community Convocation this past year was an unbelievable
miracle. In two meetings during the year, we decided to hold 50
Local Community Convocations. We held no collegiums on it, had
no major discussions, wrote no proposals about it, and held no
special Panchayat meetings to decide about it. In the fourth week
of the quarter, several of us were assigned to call around and
remind everyone we were going ahead with the Local Community Convocations.
We did not even talk to first Priors in most places because they
were out doing other things. A few days later, we made another
round of phone calls and two nights before Week 11 of Week 9,
we tapped 50 people on the shoulder and the Penetration Office
wrote airline tickets. Then, the 50 met together for two nights
and the next day they took off to lead the convocations. The next
morning 50 convocations took place across this continent. It is
phenomenal that possibility like that is available to us. We have
a global network that can deliver.
Third, we can sustain. We are going to stay. The nurture fortresses
we have created are spread all over the globe. They will work
anywhere. They allow human beings to stand and create charisma.
The sociological reality we have created does not depend on any
prior or any individual gift. It does not even depend on people's
training. It seems we can get people to run Religious Houses quicker
than we can get them to teach RS1. We have created ~ structured,
sociological way of standing as human beings living in the new
world. I believe that is the reason we can be of help over the
next twenty or forty years.
Fourth, we are thoughtthrough. We are not a body of people
who fall off on the intellectual pole. As soon as we get enough
clarity on an issue, we move. In reorganizing my notes recently,
I found that over half my notes are research, even though that
has not been our emphasis. We are thoughtthrough. The reason
we know 5th City works is not because we have followed intellectual
presuppositions, though we did that. 5th City works because we
have done it. The reason RS1 works is not because it is
theologically correct, though we have done everything to insure
that it is. RS1 works because we have gone out and done
it. The complexity of the New Social Vehicle demands that we continue
to think everything through. We will not find answers but we will
need guides to help us get through the complexity.
The guides are the Pressure Points. Everything is not demonstration,
just because someone may want to paint a chemical factory orange
does not mean that would be helpful to the New Social Vehicle.
When you have to decide between painting a chemical factory orange
and a supermarket blue, how do you decide? How do we avoid a new
activism? Through adhering to the nine Pressure Points, we will
have our guides. The Pressure Points are the way in which we impact
the social processes. After Summer '71, we took the 385 proposals
we wrote and related them again to the Social Process Triangles.
We discovered that most of the problems in the Economic Process
were healed either by the process called Anticipated Needs or
by the Process in the Political called Bureaucratic Systems. That
is, what the economic needed to get itself on the track was very
simple: Longrange planning and some way of controlling its
Five of the Pressure Points appear in the Cultural Triangle, three
in the Political and one in the Economic. This relates to our
insights about the imbalances in the social processes. The Pressure
Points are our map, our wave chart. These nine points are the
focal points upon which the New Social Vehicle will be built.
The NSV will be built in Inclusive Mythology, creating a story,
a new mythology, a way of talking about what it is to be a human
being in society. It is being hammered out through Formal Methods,
discovering a new form of social responsibility, in people hammering
out modes of effective action. It is being built in Community
Groupings, where people are coming together to redo local
community, where people are giving new significance to engagement
in the local. It is being built in Basic Roles, where people are
crying that every human being participate and be engaged in society.
The NSV is being built where people are looking for Knowledge
Access, giving people the instruments they need to make decisions;
it is being built when the Washington Post is exposing or not
exposing what is going on in the world. It is being hammered out
in Deliberative Systems, where people are inventing new ways of
making decisions, of forming consensus, of creating grassroots
polity. The New Social Vehicle is being hammered out in Bureaucratic
Systems, where people are looking for ways to act effectively
in society, where they are breaking through the morass of bureaucracy.
It is being built wherever people are doing, planning and daring
to anticipate the future.
The Pressure Points are our guide to audience. They tell us whom
to impact, to deal with, to formulate, to break loose for the
sake of breaking loose the whole of society. Our intuition was
to start with the audience at the top of the triangle, with the
Church, with Myth, the body of people who come together around
a piety; people who at least had symbols which told them life
had deepseven though the symbols had lost their ground.
Intuitively, we saw we had won with that decision and it was now
necessary to turn to the people who were guardians of pietythe
Religious and break them loose to a New Social Vehicle.
If this could be accomplished, then it would serve as a sign that
it was possible to create the New Social Vehicle.
Now we are moving to local communities, with 5th City and with
the Ecumenical Parish Experiment. With LENS, we have begun to
address the global business community, the people who are planning
the future of the globe, the managers of huge corporations.
These people are not just audiences; they represent the crucial
structures of society. Again, we started on top with the local
congregation. We went to the heart of that which was sustaining
the piety which maintained the old social vehicle. We demonstrated
that it could metamorphosize into a new piety that would release
human motivity, allowing people to engage in the world and in
the local parish. The nine Pressure Points are internal keys for
us, in terns of our own systems. When the RS 1 hostess stands
up on Friday night and says, "Would you please pass things
to the right so everyone can be fed," she is pushing on Anticipated
Needs. When the course is held at a camp or in a church and everyone
stays overnight, you are pushing Community Groupings. When you
have Daily Office, you are pushing Inclusive Myth. Those are key
to what is catalytic in any program
Finally, insofar as we are a demonstration, we have to care for
our Spirit Life. We do so not to sustain ourselves and not because
we are a religious order that ought to have a good spirit life,
but because we are a demonstration of the new mythology, the new
piety, the new set of symbols that society today requires. Collegium
is not just what we do in the morning; it is a demonstration.
This council is a demonstration of Deliberative Systems, the new
form. of decisionmaking.
One group worked hard this summer on deciding how we do catalytic
demonstrations and not just good deeds. After great deliberation,
they came up with four demonstration signs under each Pressure
Point. Under Inclusive Myth, for example, the key demonstrations
include the Local Church Experiment, the Human Resurgence Mission
and the Global Cabaret Troupe. These are not considered final
listings but they represent the best wisdom of a group of our
colleagues on which demonstrations are key.
What has become clear is that any demonstration that does not
impact one of the Pressure Points is not a demonstration. It is
not going to break loose anything besides itself. Sitting on top
of a flagpole for forty days and nights may have been a demonstration
project in another time, but not now. Recopying the Bible by hand
may have pushed a pressure point in the Middle Ages, but probably
is not what is needed now
The first criterion for any demonstration project is that it push
a Pressure Point. Likewise. any demonstration in Community Groupings,
like 5th City, would need to push every one of the Pressure Points.
In this way, we can talk about the role of creating a community
story, the role of the 5th City Voice or the community Guilds,
as Community Groupings within 5th City. We can see how all the
Pressure Points can be pushed in one social demonstration. The
same holds true for the Local Church Experiment. Liturgies recreate
mythology; training addresses social morality and the emphasis
on the congregation serves to recover Basic Roles by including
people of every age group.
The key to making any project a demonstration is pushing every
one of the Pressure Points in terms of their presuppositions.
This brings us back to 5th City's presuppositions. First of all,
the project must take place in a delimited geosocial arena.
There is no such thing as an abstract or general social demonstration,
like making Chicago a better place to live. A social demonstration
must be delimited in geography and in sociology. This means demonstrations
take place in the midst of the establishment, in communities which
already exist, or in factories or whatever else already is in
the midst of this world not in some special situation.
A demonstration must deal secondly with all the problems and thirdly
with all the people. It must push every Pressure Point wherever
it is and at the same time deal with every human being engaged
in that geosocial reality. Also, it must be reduplicable
anywhere in the globe. Fourth, it must deal with the depth problem,
whether that is a victim image or a paralyzing set of symbols.
The key to this is symbol, which is the fifth presupposition.
The little park we built in Uptown was that kind of symbol. It
was not just a little park, but it began to shift the story people
worked out of and therefore shifted their reality.
In a formula the Guild developed this summer, you can determine
the social thrust of a given project. The method takes into account
that you must consider 1) the symbolic power of the geography.
No one looks to Frankfort, Illinois, as a key place; they look
at Calcutta. Therefore, a project in Calcutta would have a far
different symbolic value than one in Frankfort. (2) Perceived
difficulty is another factor. If people think it is easy to do
X, Y or Z, then no one will be much interested in your having
done it. (3) Recognized need also must be considered. It would
be a tremendous demonstration to get violets to grow in the cities,
but compared with combating poverty in urban ghettos, violets
do not have much recognized need. (4) The number of people a project
affects is also important. A community reformulation project which
directly affects twenty thousand people is more powerful than
a Cabaret with an audience of one hundred. (6) A demonstration's
power has to do with how it primarily and secondarily hits the
Pressure Points. A demonstration's power also has to do with repetition.
The first project has great power. So will the second and maybe
the third and fourth. The more there are, however, the more the
power diminishes. By the fifth or sixth repetition, you begin
doing something already done by someone else. However, in massive
replication, like in the Local Church Experiment or the Ecumenical
Parishes, the demonstration again becomes a first
the first one project in 50 cities, or whatever. Through that
massiveness, people can see a sign of the future coming and through
that project they can know it has arrived. A demonstration's power
is also in its timeline. Is it something which happens once and
as over, or does it go on and on through the years? (8) Power
is also in its geosocial location. Is it located in an urban
ghetto in the Third World or in an exurban part of Nova Scotia?
That makes a difference. (9) It also has to do with the absolution
it pronounces on social guilt. Does it absolve, does it break
loose indirectly people's guilt over innocent suffering? What
kind of symbolism does it have? (10) Also, a demonstration's power
lies in its proximity to other projects. There is a greater cumulative
social thrust when a Galaxy, a Social Methods School, a Student
House and a Religious House are all operating in an Area. The
thrusts begin to feed off one another.
The formula also ranks the social thrust of any project on a scale
of between 1,500 and 9,000 points. We have more to learn about
the criteria for such ranking, and we have yet to include the
whole category or viability. That is, if a new project takes 50
full-time people and you only have six, then no matter how great
your project is in theory, it is not viable.
The Whistlepoints help us in launching social demonstration projects
across the globe. We have available a global servant force. One
can pick up a telephone and call upon colleagues across the globe
to assist in a demonstration project. We know how to sustain projects
locally; that is the function of the Religious House. The Houses
will become the locus of sustaining, nurturing, and enabling hundreds
of people to stand. The question now before us in demonstration
is. Is it possible to engage hundreds of thousands of millions
of people, right in their own local situations, in building the
New Social Vehicle. That is what the Guild is about.
We impact people; we take them and introduce them to a new set
of images which allow them see life in a new way. Then, we train
people to take those new images and grind them into their beings
in such a way that they can only see the future in that new way.
Then we interchange and do research to continue defining ways
to bring expertise into local situations. Then, we demonstrate.
These are the systems of the Movement. For the present, demonstration
The globe has already come upon this glorious unbelievable New.
I guess you could call it Eschatological sociology. Social demonstration
or eschatological sociology is taking what people think will take
two hundred years to happen and doing it next door.
There are two dimensions to the Whistlepoints. You must have something
abstract called 'impact', but impact never caused an avalanche.
The reason we got an avalanche going in the Church was RS1.
RS1 is an unbelievably specific thing, but it has the quality
of a whistlepoint. You stand up and you whistle and an avalanche
begins. The decision before us now is how many whistlepoints do
we need? LENS is getting to be that kind of instrument. So is
5th City. The big task in the Local Church Experiment is coming
now. Religious Houses are the same dynamic.
Underneath all our complexity, we are finally about one thing:
releasing human motivity. We are going to demonstrate corporate
action, tactical thinking or contradictional battleplanning. That
is all we have to offer and it is nothing abstract. We simply
have discovered a way of acting effectively in the world. It has
to do with human motivity, with practically, in the midst of a
group of people, creating a piety which releases and empowers
human beings; and corporate action that practically allows people
to be a people. Tactical thinking gives people a way of acting
relevantly in the midst of the world's complexity.
What intrigues me most about corporateness, problemsolving
and motivity is that each of them holds you over against the same
thing you discovered in the Dark Night of the Soul. A man who
has never been humiliated does not understand contradictions.
Once you know life is humiliation, you lose your passion for some
objective and you can create; all you care about dealing with
that thing you are over against in the midst of life. The rest
of your life, you only care about responding to what you can never
seem to get ahold of.
Once you understand the weakness that is your life, you are driven
to corporateness in a strange way. When you are driven to corporateness,
you find that you are weak but strong in the midst of your weakness,
because you have the whole Order, or the whole House.
At the same time, when you discover resentment in your life, you
see the only thing that turns people into zombies is letting their
resentment get related to some specific thing in their lived.
Motivity has to do with relating resentment to the unsynonymous.
When your resentment is related to God, it turns into motivity,
or raw drive. This is a profound happening which has no way out.
To be the Religious is to be the Revolutionary. We are doomed
as human beings to be the New Social Vehicle and to do the New
Social Vehicle not because of what we have done, but
because of the intrusion, the alien image which has happened in
our time and in our lives.
With demonstration, we are out to show what it is to be the ones
of the Dark Night at the same time as being the ones of the New