Global Centrum:

Global Priors Council


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 form.

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 for demonstration.

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 turn 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 RS-I 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 immensity­-the immensity of possibility.

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 RS­I 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. RS­I 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 II 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 RS­I. We have created a 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 RS­I works is not because it is theologically correct, though we have done everything to insure that it is. RS-I 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 immense power.

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 deeps even 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 piety the 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 terms of our own systems. When the RS ­I 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 is 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 full­time 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 is key.

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 RS­I. RS­I 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 is 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 a hold 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 lives. Motivity has to do with relating resentment to the unsynonomous. 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 Social Vehicle.

James Wiegel