Global Priors Council
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.