of the North American Regions
December 11, 1970
There's a struggle as to where we need to go as a continental
presidium this year. We've heard the task laid out for us by the
Council V Policy Statement. We've heard the context of the Local
Church Experiment. And here we are. I wish that character who
was in my group dynamics class in seminary were here. He was the
one who after four or five sessions of bloodletting, letting
everybody know where you hurt, said to me, "My problem with
you is that you always act as if you had the world by the tail."
I wish that gentleman could be with me today, and see the description
or content that has been placed or that world that I had by the
Or put it this way I love to go teaching RS1's
and PLC's, particularly with people that I don't know or have
never taught with. I love the anonymity of not being held accountable,
or if it's being held accountable, only in that time and that
place where I know I'll never see those people again. I wish that
fellow from my group dynamics class could be with me now as I
stand before the man who first created recruited
me for a PLC, before the first gentleman I ever heard stand before
this body and give the State of the Movement address, before that
character who two or three years ago when I got my baptism into
this continental presidium function, while I was standing out
in the hall trying to figure out whether I was going to stay for
that evening's session or not (that was one of the rare privileges
we Chicago people take advantage of by our in's and out's), came
up and said, "We would like you to hold the business session
And if his name hadn't been the same as mine I might have rebelled,
but knowing it was the same as mine I grabbed him by the collar
and said in great turmoil, "What am I going to do? I don't
know anything about the function of this outfit. I sit back there
most of the tine trying to figure what the language is all about
- presidium, galaxy, cluster, sector I don't know
what's going on. But I was supposed to lead a business session.
Then I remember the person in the meeting who sat right in front.
He was sixfootsix or seven or eight and
I didn't see anybody else.
I didn't have any idea how to run a meeting. I knew I'd taken
a course once that said we ought to do it by consensus, but I
didn't have the foggiest. How do you take a consensus? So I asked
somebody: "How do you take a consensus?' And he said, "Well,
you just know." I figured that was pretty good. We were dealing
with financial questions. And we went through the kind of turmoil
and struggle that was there, and pretty soon; it seemed as if
we had tailed the thing out. So I looked down on the sheet and
announced the next subject. Then Art Brandenberg who was sitting
in the back said, "I think it would be a good idea if we
said Amen to that to announce our decision." And it ran through
my mind, "But he said that didn't need to be done."
Finally Art had to go ahead and say, "Amen." You can
see the kind of struggle that comes from making a decision to
participate in the movement.
And for me recently that struggle has been intensified -- with
more new language and some more documents, and not just one more
but about fifty more, and not just one word but about two hundred
words, in which you and I need to get on top of the reality that
stands behind the kind of struggle that you and I have before
I don't know if that's what is getting to me or something else
in the times, but I've been having just a terrible time recently
getting away from the immediacies. All of a sudden I just can't
stand my oneandahalf year old boy crying. I
tell myself all those stories, you know; the ones we teach the
kids about "Life is full of falling down" and I keep
rehearsing that. And I think of a man like Clement Stone who is
going to the Bears, of all teams, to work on his positive mental
attitude gimmick. And it's not if the Bears lose, but when the
Bears lose, how are they going to relate to a man trying to move
in on their lives to give them a new image out of which to live.
That's the way it's been for me. All the images have become somewhat
sterile. Or life absolutized them. Or somehow it's clear for me
that there needs to be another reflective period for a rebirth,
or a way of getting behind. Or maybe it's this way: we've come
to a point in the Movement where we've become so clear about the
facts of the way things are, that we are people in struggle, that
we are lucid people, sensitive people, exposed people, etc. that
we have gone another level but have not stood conscious to the
fact that a new reality is upon us, or that we have been impinged
upon again by the mystery, or the awefilledness of
that life. The symbols in RSI are so great, but in one sense
one has to say that the arrows representing the struggle in Bultmann
symbolize a past struggle for us. Finally, the struggle for us
has not been whether that is the way life is or not. The struggle
has been standing in a final relationship to the mystery
the enigmatic power, as Bultmann talks about it. You can get the
first job done in ten seconds. It's what the relationship to the
mystery is: that's the question, or how that power operates in
life, and how one gets hold of saying yes every minute of his
life, and not just at one time or another.
It seems clear to me in our struggle as a continental Presidium
in relationship to the Local Church Experiment that the Experiment
is not some kind of absolutistic something that's just there to
be marched through; but again, how do we begin to get hold of
the impingement of the mystery, the awefilledness
of life, that is breaking in upon us in a new way. One of my colleagues
suggested the other day that we have not even begun to sense ourselves
as living in a time of consciousness of consciousness. We're just
beginning again to get a feel of what it means to go below our
own immediacies into that kind of consciousness.
Well, I would like to talk about the state of the regions broadly
under a term which has been used much lately, the category of
PRIORSHIP. Finally, the only thing I want to say today is that
the role of the regions on the North American continent 1n relationship
to the Local Church Experiment is one of priorship, not only to
the experiment itself but also finally to the Established Church.
It has something to do with the question of accountability. I
got ahead of myself when I gave the examples of constantly being
held accountable. But that's the very gift I want to run away
from as I see people from my ecclesiola in the Research Assembly
this summer. I danced around over there for an hour in the corner
not approaching them because I didn't want to be confronted by
them. The anonymity is gone just the awefilledness
of being held accountable by your colleagues.
I want to read you a short bit from one of our meditative friends
with whom we are most familiar in his Journey to the East.
It's a similar situation in Magister Ludi. Knecht, Magister
Ludi, or master of the glass bead game, which is another way of
talking about the Journey to the East, has been confronted by
a former colleague who comes back with a whole lot of gripes.
And Knecht says something like this:
"My dear friend, he said thoughtfully, 'How much your words
remind me of our schooldays and your criticisms and love of your
argument. But today I do not have to play the same part as I did
then; today my task does not lie in defending the Order and the
Province against your attacks, and I am very thankful, considering
the difficulty and the strain, that it does no longer exist. It
is certainly very hard to parry such a magnificent attack as the
one you have just launched. You spoke, for example of the people
outside in your world as those who live the real life and who
do the real work."
Now that has such a clear, beautiful and candid ring, almost like
an axiom, and should one wish to contest it, one must definitely
be unfair and remind the speaker that part of this world's ''true
work'' consists in running a commission for the maintenance of
Castalia, but jesting aside for the moment it is clear from your
words and from your tone of voice that your heart is still filled
with either hate, envy or yearning for us. In your estimation
we are cowards and drones or irresponsible children in a kindergarten,
and yet there have also been times when you have looked upon us
as eternally serene gods. One thing I think I may assume from
your words that Castalia is not to blame for your sorrow or misfortune
as you are pleased to call it and that we must look elsewhere
for the causes. Were we Castalians really to blame your reproaches
and objections would not be the same today as they were in your
"In later conversations you shall tell me more and I have
no doubt that we shall find a way to making you serene and happier,
or at least to making your relationship with Castalia a freer
and more agreeable one. As far as I can see you have built up
a false constricted and sentimental attitude towards myself and
towards Castalia and at the sane time towards your own youth and
schooldays. You have split your own soul between Castalia and
the world and tortured yourself unduly over things for which you
were not responsible. On the other hand, it is possible that you
take many other things for which the responsibility lies entirely
within yourself, far too lightly. I imagine that you have not
practiced your meditation for a long time. Is that not so?
Designori laughed bitterly. 'How perspicacious you are, Domine.
For a long time, you say? It is many, many years now since I renounced
the charms of meditation. But how anxious you have become about
me all of a sudden! At that time when was in Waldzell on my holiday
course when you showed me so much courtesy and contempt and so
politely rejected my comradeship, I returned home with the firm
resolution of making an end of everything Castalian within me
forever. I renounced the Bead Game from that day onwards. I have
never meditated since, and for a long time even music was unbearable
to me. In place of these I found new comrades who instructed me
in pleasure. We drank and whored, and tried all manner of narcotics
and we spat upon everything decent, worthy and ideal. Naturally
that filth could not last for long but long enough to eat away
completely the last traces of Castalian varnish. And then, some
years later when on a certain occasion I realized that I had abused
even these intoxicants and had urgent need of meditation, I was
too proud to start again.
"Too proud?" asked Knecht softly.
"Yes, too proud. I had in the meantime become submerged in
the world, and had become a man of the world. I wished for nothing
better than to be as one of them and to have do other life than
theirs -- that passionate childish, gruesome uncontrolled life
that vacillates between happiness and fear. I scorned the idea
of resorting to your expedients in order to provide a modicum
of relief or to create certain advantages for myself."
The Magister looked at him sharply. "And for how many years
did you endure that? Have you made use of no other expedients
in order to be rid of it all?"
"On yes!" admitted Plinio. I have indeed, and sti11
do so, today. There are times when I drink really heavily and
use a11 manner of drugs in order to sleep."
Knecht closed his eyes for a moment as though suddenly weary,
then looked up at his friend again, long and questioningly and
in silence gradually his look assumed an even more tender and
Designori confessed afterwards that he had never in his whole
life seen a look in a man's eyes at once so inquiring and affectionate,
so innocent and appraising, so radiantly friendly and so omniscient.
He admitted that it had at first confused and irritated him but
had gradually calmed him with its gentle, compelling insistence.
And yet he had tried to defend himself against it.
"You said just now," he went on, "that you know
of an anodyne to make me serener and happier but you do not dream
of asking me whether that is actually what I desire."
"Well," laughed Joseph Knecht, "If we can make
a man serene and happier we do so irrespective of whether he asks
us to do so or not. And why pray should you not seek and desire
it? That is why you are here -- why are we now sitting opposite
each other and why you have returned to us. You hate and despise
Castalia; you are too proud of your worldliness and sorrow to
lighten it with a certain amount of intelligence and meditation
and yet a secret and irresistible longing for us and for our serenity
has guided and nourished you all these years, prompting you to
come and try your luck with us once more. And I tell you you have
come at the ripest moment, at a time when I too, yearn for a call
from your world and for one of its doors to open.
Do any colleagues come to mind?
Hesse is not the only one in our time who is struggling with the
role of what it means to be a prior. A number of books I've read
recently, and I'm sure you have, too, have done this. In the Godfather,
for example, the role of Vito Cordione, the head of the Mafia,
shows the priorship role that was demanded in that kind of function;
that kind of operating. Or I think of TaiPan where
the whole book is devoted to laying out what it means for a man
to take his mission to the Orient seriously, whether or not one
agreed with that mission, the kinds of demands that were laid
on his life, the kind of picture we get as to what it means to
be a prior. Or the book Custer Died for Your Sins?
the struggle laid out there of the Red Man in our own country.
The whole book climaxed at one point with the cry from the depths
for an Indian prior, for someone to come again to function as
one who could play the kind of role which would enable Indian
power, or whoever you want to call about it, so that the wisdom
of the Red Man in North America might once again be unloosed to
humanness aid to mankind.
That is the kind of role I would suggest is demanded not only
in relationship to the world but to Church, and within the movement
in terms of the Local Church Experiment. We find ourselves in
a time in terms of our own communities when there has another
shift. In my community it's symbolized by The Woodlawn Organization
(TWO). The Woodlawn Organization was birthed in 1960 with a great
rally of thousands of residents to fight back against the University
of Chicago which was encroaching upon land and removing residences.
Year after year since 1960 TWO has spent its time trying to recreate
that even again. Every year its lifeblood has had to be
re-circulated around the gathering of the masses. Towards the
end of 1969 and into 1970 the shift of that organization has been
a programmatic shift. Now there are almost no rallies. Now there
are no gatherings of the people to show that this is a grassroots
movement in the sense of a lot of bodies. There has been a shift
to the programs in the area of the economic, the political, and
even in a reduced sense in the area of the cultural. But it's
just been a shift that has ricocheted across our whole land. The
Black Panthers met last week in Washington to try to make the
transition from the initial cry of Black power and the Black Panther
stance and to act out the principles that they had in their platform
now to having to construct the programmatic aspects. We're all
familiar with how the Panthers have put in front of us a real
fast program for children, etc., to get across the symbol that
what is needed, is to build structures, Yet in the midst of that
there is a great despair, because finally although one program
can boom up, since there is in depth struggling for symbols that
hold one over against the comprehensive, which comes shattering
in. After the Bears lose, what does Clement Stone say about positive
menta1 attitude? It's not where people are winning but where people
are losing that one is able to see the shift that has occurred.
It's the same with the wives and mothers who have been parading
for years to get the prisoners back from Vietnam. Did you see
any of the interviews with some of those women after our last
escapade of finding the prison camp empty? It was the final straw.
The hopelessness had bottomed out. For years they had been getting
their energy and life out of pretending that somehow they could
build a structure with enough women and wives to cry against the
government and get their husbands back. That's the kind of situation
that we go into one that is crying out very clearly
for structures, yet has a cynicism about it because of what they
see in the structures that have been birthed in the early 1970's.
It's a different kind of hopelessness from that we talked about
earlier because it is a level deeper.
My wife teaches school in a ghetto community. The structure that
the teachers have, the Model Cities program, is exactly along
this line. The Model Cities program for schools has poured close
to a million dollars into a complex of schools in that area. If
you go into one of those schools and ask for a sign, all I can
show you is unused television sets and millions of dollars of
equipment up in smoke either it's been stolen, or
the teachers have not been trained to use it, or it's so far beyond
where the students are that it's impractical. So the teachers
now say very admittedly to my wife: "I'm just here to get
my paycheck." Those are the kind of human beings who are
in our regions now just crying out for those kinds of structures.
And there's a great search going on. One of my colleagues who
taught in Seattle last quarter tells about how as soon as he got
off the plane people started saying, "We're sorry you can't
see Mount Rainier today because of the pollution. Maybe tomorrow
we'll see Mount Rainicr." As he went on to teach the PLC,
around the edges and during the seminars people would say, "Too
bad we can't see Mount Rainier." It seemed to be something
people were obsessed with -Mount Rainier. As he reflected about
that and struggled with what was going on, he said, "You
know what happened there? Mount Rainier had become a way for the
people to deal with the mystery of life. It had become a contemplative
object. Once that had become as absolutized as that, and once
this fog descended and the air clouded that image, they were lost.
What's life all about? Where is it that we finally contemplate
arid deal with the kind of mystery which life is, even if it's
done unconsciously? He mentioned that the suicide rate skyrocketed
when Mount Rainier could not be seen.
Somehow people are again crying out for the kind of contemplative
exercises which again can hold them and their lives over against
the greatness and the mystery which life is. Did you know that
'Amazing Grace' is in the top ten? Would you ever have believed
that when you sang that for the first time after twenty years
of absence two years ago? The crying out from the youth. again
for the kind of exercises and symbols to hold one's selfunderstanding
over against. Do you know when Hermann Hesse wrote his books?
In the twenties and the thirties. Now he is the latest thing.
I substitute teach an English class once in a while. One day I
went in when they had book reports, and the first five were all
by Hesse. And I asked why is Hesse so popular?' They answered,
'He just has a way of talking about what is going on inside us.'
It's as if we needed Hitler to bring us into the twentieth century.
We needed that kind of activity of the divine breaking in in our
midst to shake us up to the reality that some men have searched
and longed for, after for a number of years.
One of the young ladies came to see me the other day. She had
a beret on, a tightfitting karate outfit on, and she had
every conceivable button - it didn't matter if they conflicted.
She had a peace button, she had an 'America, love it or leave
it' button, she had a Panther button. She had everything. She
was just a walking contradiction of values, and yet it was a symbol.
It was like a collage of the struggles of that whole high school,
the whole youth, in terms of getting those symbols.
We've talked about these things recently and given the names of
meditation, contemplation and prayer. There's nothing religious
about those things. They're straight out of the gutlevel
struggles with humanness itself - meditation, contemplation,
and prayer. And how is it that you and I who are the Church bring
to selfconsciousness the Church's wisdom about these symbols
again, those symbols which we know, as Tillich reminds us, were
forged out of the depth human struggle and need to be recaptured
again by every age in that same struggle.
Or if it's not meditation, contemplation and prayer that has been
revealed to us in terms of the solitaries, perhaps it is the area
of the corporates that we can see the struggle of man. Does anybody
here watch 'Sesame Street'? There's a character there called,
'Cookie Monster.' The Cookie Monster is a fantastic reminder of
I'm not sure which -- either poverty or chastity.
It's either poverty in the sense that it's a reminder of one not
being able to detach himself from something inconsequential that
he's wrapped up in in live, or it's a symbol of chastity: absolute
single-mindedness. He was offered a thousand dollars or a cookie
in one episode, and he said it wasn't even a choice.
That's fantastic struggle in the midst of our time, and many people
are picking up the responsibility of being the Church. And we
could go on, not only in terms of poverty and chastity, but also
obedience. No serious group anywhere any more says, 'You can be
a weekend warrior. You can attend one meeting a week.' Any serious
group demands just your whole life, nothing short of that. And
there's a new consciousness about what it means to get things
In our journey as a movement we know that we are those who are
called to hold up the gifts, the symbols, the possibilities of
the Church. There has always been a self-conscious people who
have grasped hold of the eruptions of their time. I remember Saint
Anthony who finally just had to chuck everything and go to the
desert. My favorite out of that tradition is Martin Luther. It
disturbs me to think of him as the culmination of something that
started a long time before him. I've always lived out of the story
that he was the prime mover, or something. But it's really true.
Who is going to get credit for the work you and I see has to be
done? It's not going to be you and me. Do you understand that?
If we have ever had a struggle in status, now is the time to see
that what you and I are about it not status. The symbol of this
is right here. The Local Church Training School is in one place,
the continental presidium is in another place, ITI's were in another
place, religious houses all over the globe, a black church thrust.
There's no question of status. But we have it in our minds that
the Local Church Experiment has al1 the status now. The rest of
the people are the poor slobs who gather to be the movement and
finally how do we take a relationship to seeing ourselves in that
kind of role?
But remember that this is the Advent season of the year -
the great wisdom of our fathers to set aside a part of the rehearsa1
of our drama, to see that we are the people of the kairos, the
fulfillment of time. Those are the people who decide that the
future is not out there somewhere. The future is here, and now.
That's what it means to be the Advent people, to claim the future
as one's own. If you want to know what your future is like, you
just have to 1ook at your present. That's what your future is.
That's the reality that reveals the Word in Jesus Christ. It's
now that we have the decision I guess I'm so moralistic
that I can't say it - that we are called in our time to
be the Messiah. You can't ever say that, because when the one
who applied that role in history was asked that, he said, 'Who
do you say that I am?' So it's finally to decide to bring the
saving word to mankind and to understand that we never bring the
saving word to mankind in the first instance; it's only that power
or that mystery or that awefilled possibility in life which
finally springs any man loose or any people loose to do the task.
But it's somehow grasping after the embodiment of that Word, that
it's not that group of people called the Church have the Word,
they are the Word. It's not that a group of people called the
Church have the life. The demand is to be the life. It's not that
the people who are the Church have the way; they are the way in
their embodiment of the Word in Jesus Christ.
My experience in being the region, the Chicago region in particular,
is like the character who was standing out in the middle of the
road and had about four hundred marbles to pick up. He just about
gets them picked up when a Mack truck comes along, and he turns
around in time and starts picking them up again, and another Mack
truck comes barreling down the highway. In terms of our depth
consciousness of that situation now, the only change is that now
we only have time to say, "Oh, my God," when the Mack
That's what it means to be the region. If you
think that Mack truck isn't real well, I don't know what
happened to you the first time three or four of your cadre members
joined the order. Did you have a little status trouble? Did you
have an internal turmoil saying, "What is this about? They
tell us to renew the Local Church and they are stealing all of
A colleague was searching after curriculum for a certain age group
that reflected RS1. And I suggested he call a woman in a
Church which had been very active in the movement two or three
years ago, but now was not heard from as much. He called there
and talked quite a while. Then he called me back to tell me about
what the woman had told him. He said, "Do you know that that
Church three years ago was where we are saying today a signal
Church is supposed to be. And when you think about it you start
wondering why that Church couldn't stay in being. They would have
been three more years down the road by now. Then you start thinking
that there would never have been a religious house in that region
without that cadre deciding to assign certain people there. There
never would have been sign after sign in the movement if some
people hadn't decided to take that step and say in a sense that
that was not the time for the Local Church project. That's a hard
thing for me to deal with. I can't say that easily, because in
our own situation we have been through the same kind of struggle.
Maybe a quick history will hold for us where we've been as a movement
and regions. The first experiment that I was conscious of was
the experiment in being the Order. I knew that there were some
people who decided to set themselves apart, that a group of people
needed to be set apart on behalf of everyone to decide what it
meant to be disciplined, to decide what it meant to be trained
to the bottom, to decide what it meant to be obedient to the bottom.
Out of that came the experiment -- and I want to emphasize that
the experiment we now call the Order. Had somebody
not made the decision for the order to come into being, you and
I would not have the wisdom we have today on what it means to
be a CADRE, because everything you and I know, in one sense, about
obedience, about being trained, comes from the experiment done
in the movement which we call the Order. All the experimentation
is done. And there came a point when there developed a mutual
flow. That dynamic was never something that was static with the
flow only one way. I remember right before the religious houses
came into being the question around base was, "Have you been
out in the region lately? Have you been in a Local Church lately?"
People from the order began to bring back wisdom that the cadres
had developed. The whole concept of what it meant to be the order
That's what happened in my situation. The first image of what
it meant to be the movement was to be a cadre. We had forty-five
people at one point who were in what we called the parish cadre
people who had had RS-1, Black Heritage, taught Black
Heritage practically every weekend. I ran up a total on one woman
once. As you think of the demand that comes with the Local Church
Experiment, this is ever more relevant. In the weeks when she
taught on the weekends, which was almost every other weekend,
she spent 70 to 80 hours in recruiting and courses, etc., in addition
to her 40 hour a week job. That's not an exaggeration. That's
a concretion. Why she's still with us today, I'll never know,
but she is. But that was what was going on. That was an iron cadre.
After a while the Lord demands something different. The whole
FIFTH CITY experiment began to impinge on the consciousness of
cadres across the nation. "What should we do now that we're
a cadre? We're great, we study, we build models." But Fifth
City kept holding the necessity of community reformulation before
us. Chicago, Pittsburgh, San. Francisco, Los Angeles
people started playing with the Fifth City model. But the work
we did in the parish could never have come off without some people
having been set aside on behalf of all to experiment with what
a comprehensive experiment in a geographically delimited area
would look like. That's where the initial springboard for the
work we did in the parish came. Again there was mutual feedback
going back and forth. Compared to the parish, the cadre was easy.
We ran into monsters and snakes that we never imagined. With the
cadre we were involved in the knowing, and with the parish, the
doing. We had activity after activity after activity, but we finally
realized the problem of how one sustains himself in the midst
of that, of what the depth push is of what it means to be a religious
man, of how the 'parish' is different from a community organization,
of how the parish is different from anything anyone else is doing.
That pushed us to a new experiment in the movement called the
RELIGIOUS HOUSE. I would suggest that since that is the most recent
of our experiments, that that is where the depth push in what
it means to be the LOCAL CONGREGATION pole was forged, what it
means to be the seminary, the sodality, and the college. We see
in all three experiments unfolding, that the Lord has pushed us
through many kinds of inadequate experimentation, many kinds of
failures: experimentation and failures which were absolutely necessary
to push us again to see that another experiment is needed -- not
wild experimentation, but an experiment in which some people
not everybody are set aside to do the LOCAL CHURCH
For me, that is probably the nub of the issue you and I have to
deal with in the movement today. For one, how is it that every
one of us is involved in the Local Church Experiment? We see how
historically, the tactics would not have been built without all
the previous experimentation. Yet, the other side of that is the
one question that maybe some of us will not be participating in
the Local Church Experiment at all, in the limited sense in which
that project is described by itself. You and I may not be part,
and probably will not be part, of a congregation that will be
pointed to as a signal Church. That's a hard thing to say, but
that's to face the reality that this is an experiment, an experiment,
that has limitations on it. It's not Wild experimenting, just
hit and miss trying to discover what you can get out of it. It's
taking the wisdom from the earlier experiments, and going through
step by step controlled experiment so that signs can be held up
in the Local Church as signs had been held up in the other areas.
If that job gets done with the Local Church Experiment, you and
I will not have to worry about not participating in a signal Local
Church, because one can anticipate the shotgun mushrooming that
everybody is going to be crying for participation in that experiment
as history goes forward.
But now the demand is to enable this actually to come off. We've
had a lot of serious questions as to the role of the region. What's
the role of a local cadre that's not in a local church experiment?
What's the role of RS-1? How about the PLC? How about cadre formation?
There's only one way you can answer that: none of that has changed.
It's all still there. It all has to go on - not for its own sake,
for the sake of the experiment and for the sake of the renewal
of the Church in our time. Without regional development being
hammered out in a way that we have not yet imagined, to a depth
that we have not yet imagined, there's no way that the Local Church
Experiment can possibly come off. The movement is a dynamic that
is so intertwined that no part of it can be left out and have
another part of it come off.
The role of the region as a prior becomes so clear to me there.
There are going to be times in the midst of that experiment when
the regional structures will have to provide both the spirit and
physical support that will be needed in the midst of the struggles
that will be going on there. I have searched for an image and
I'm not satisfied - some of you will have better ones. But it
comes to me that the regions are the NASA behind the astronauts.
Everybody in NASA, everybody in this country could not take that
flight to the moon. Some people had to be set aside on behalf
of all to make that journey. Yet, others had to be set aside on
behalf of all to be the network behind that journey, so that that
actually could take place. That's not adequate, but that's the
direction I would want to take.
Towards the end of the book of Samuel the Israelites are going
to go out to fight the enemy. Samuel turned around and said to
them, "Some of you will have to stay here to tend the baggage."
They all had come to fight. So maybe it's the baggage-tender kind
of image which will hole for us at this time what the regional
The cruciality of the region is as that which holds the tension
between the global and the local The concretion of the local is
just overwhelming. And the content on the global in the ITIs and
so on is so concrete that the demand to be the regional dynamic
which. holds that tension and spreads it across the continent
is obvious for the kind of depth push which must go on now.
Our first presupposition, you know in the movement has always
been that every man has to hear the Gospel. You don't stop teaching
RS-1. You don't teach RS1 only in places where followup
is guaranteed, although we're all clear what crucial followups
are. But getting the Gospel out across the whole continent and
across the whole world is still the demand. We hear reports of
people saying, "We don't get ministers to PLC's anymore"
Maybe back in 1967, but not now. Well, over in the Des Moines
metro there were 31 at the PLC last quarter. In Milwaukee there
were 40. And does anybody here have a surplus of clergymen in
your region? Or maybe it comes in the form of the Local Church
Experiment: "All our regional leaders are clergymen and their
churches are going to be signal churches". Right. But we
can never have an order that's big enough, we can never have enough
people in the religious house, we can never
.It's just demand
upon demand. There's no top limit that we can see to any of those
functions which we know as the movement. They all have to be filled.
So the demands are still there.
Finally we know that recruiting is prior to RS-1. Maybe that's
why the ministers don't want to take a PLC. And that comes down
to our decision to recruit. We've got all sorts of gimmicks. But
finally we know that none of those methods is the key to recruiting.
The key to recruiting is the decision that another human being
has to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. That's the decision. We
heard a course was going to fold a couple of weeks ago. On Monday
the Metropolitan Council asked who would take responsibility for
that course, and one timid woman raised her hand. On Wednesday
she had six people. On Friday she had twenty-four. One person
had decided that that course was going to come off. When she came
back to the metro cadre people congratulated her and she go mad.
She said, "If that's all you are about, you are not taking
that task seriously." They said, "You pulled off a miracle".
She said, "You think that was a miracle? That was a decision
to call on X number of people and confront them with their lives.
That was no miracle." All of it has to go on and on. There
are no short cuts.
And we hear a lot of cries about the extended order. Well, I don't
know what that means, except that it is birthed out of a struggle
of a lot of people where their spirit depths have been drained
to nothingness. And how is it that people in local congregations
all over the globe participate in religious depths that will enable
us to get this job done? But if we're ever going to get concretion
on the extended order, it's you and I here in the regions that
bring concretion to that. That's the dimension that's missing,
what it means to hammer that to the bottom. There shouldn't be
a Odyssey held that has fewer than sixty-five people (one Odyssey
recently had sixty-five people). Every one has to have sixty-five
people, at least. It's that kind of image that is being demanded.
If you don't like the work of having to recruit for RS-1 or Odysseys
or Academy, or whatever - well, that's what's demanded. My wife
and I just finished a year of internship at the religious house,
a way of just tooling up for the hard rugged task of the region.
It's as if everyone has to have it on his timeline. I didn't even
know what a region was -I'm not sure I still don't. But participating
in the religious house activities shoved me over into some of
the realities or gave one of the best of both worlds (that's probably
revealing a spirit struggle), but whatever it is it's being impacted
for a time from both dimensions, the disciplined order dimension
and the regional dimension which enables one to move forward.
It's so clear that we could turn the whole of our region into
development in terms of getting the finances demanded. No revolution
ever came off on somebody else's money. I don't need to say that
again, it's so obvious. That hit us in my region last weekend
in a way that we won't forget. We stood before our colleagues
in the movement and had to say that we had a $12,000 debt, for
bringing the religious house into being, for courses that weren't
paid for going back to 1966 -- $12,000. We went to the regional
council meeting with some of us having decided that the council
was going to deal seriously with that mess. We had figured it
out. We said there are about 7,000-8,000 grads in the region,
and 1,000 of them would be in one degree or another of awareness.
If we just go to those 1,000 grads and ask twelve dollars apiece
you ever had a model like that? It worked - to the tune of eight
hundred dollars. There we went with that beautiful but crushed
model. Then a colleague had been in a church where they had lived
from week to week
They said, "The choir's going to sign until we get x number
of dollars." You hear the minister saying to them, "Keep
singing, keep singing." Well, we tried not even very much
of a variation on that. And I would want to announce as a symbol
before this body that the $12,000 debt of our region was gone
as a result of the meeting. When I told the cadre, they asked,
"Were a lot of rich people there?" And, you know, we
wouldn't have even thought of that two years ago, and I don't
even recommend that as a tactic. That's the only kind of experience
I would share. And it's a sign of possibility for every region
to take up that financial responsibility for the revolution that
we're about in our day.
Someone said last summer that the movement is sure a rotten organization.
By all standards, it doesn't stack up to the Better Business Bureau.
But it's that lousy organization and that bad investment for which
and I in our time are called to bear responsibility. I wanted
to spend more time on that being a spirit task, we we'll have
time to reflect on that, that it's a spirit job.
The bishop of our denomination preached a sermon two or three
years ago, and I never thought he knew anything about the Church,
but his sermon was called, A Time for Christian Privilege. It
has developed in the midst of our times that to pick up the task
of the Church is a privilege that comes to all men all the time,
and we are at a time in history when that task has been presented
before us. I don't know how you finally get an adequate image
of that, but one of my pastor friends was counseling with a man
who was giving him all sorts of trouble and he didn't know which
way to turn. He and I talked a little bit, and finally I suggested
he use a little reality therapy. I thought that might be one way
to move with the man. And my friend said, "If I do that it
will crucify him." I just smiled and said, "Yes. But
you know, that's a privilege." I swallowed and he said, "Yeah,
a privilege, like going to the cross.
I don't know the struggle with status the movement has in relation
to the Local Church Experiment, but I know that you and I date
not see our task as any one other than the privilege of the cross,
and one which is absolutely necessary if we are going to have
anything that even resembles a sign of the renewal of the Church
in the twentieth century.