My brother, Brendan Coyne, sent me an email yesterday from Nova Scotia where he has lived for forty years. He was trying to get his head around why I persist with Catholica. He wrote: "As far as the Catholic institution goes I don't know why you keep banging your head against the stone wall of the ramparts of this fossilized redundancy. Expectation of its changing can only create more opposition and a closing of the ranks. Brian, it is a dry well, a shriveled cadaver, barren land, it's dead, chewed the biscuit mate, rigy has set in, last gasp, feet in the air, there is no sustenance there. I see Catholica as a model, a template for a new spirituality, not a religion, free of confusing, contradictory and fear-inducing dogma." Tom McMahon writing from San José and nearly 25 years senior to Brendan might share many of his feelings reading between the lines of today's commentary. This is a big-canvas commentary on spirituality looking back over our religious heritage but also looking forward to what the future holds. This is global spirituality searching for an intelligent way forward. ...Brian Coyne, Editor
A renewed vision ... after the Olympic opening ceremony ... McMahon is in another world...
I taped brief snippets of the opening ceremony of the London Olympics. Using memory and imagination we were treated to a history of English society, myself aware that I have lived in four of the eras of life as shown, rural, industrial, technological, and new breed youth. I am genetically wired by rural Potato Famine Irish as well as living in early youth on a farm where mother milked our cow, Brownie, daily. I remember the family joy of the calf, Georgie, being born on George Washington's birthday. My father was a 1920's railroad machinist and today I prize his handmade tools. I was introduced to the age of technology at the San Francisco World Fair in 1939, marvelling as I drank from a water fountain that turned on automatically with a hidden magic eye. I witnessed Buzz Aldrin landing on the moon. With The Beatles and Elvis' The Hound Dog I moderated a teen club at the height of the flower children of Haight-Ashbury in the 60's/70's and raised two teens in the 1980's. I dabbled in all four eras the Olympic pageantry depicted, all along a student with an eye on human nature in the human evolutionary process. The Roman Church to which I was ordained stayed stuck in the Middle Ages except for massive breakout of Vatican Two.
Silicon Valley and Stepford Wives...
The world is massive yet the average person grows up with a narrow viewpoint of neighborhood, local church and school, and immediate economy. I consider myself fortunate (there are drawbacks) living since 1967 in the Silicon Valley where I mingled with a variety of high skilled technicians, as well as their semi-Stepford type wives and families. Tom McMahon is a hybrid of many eras.
Silicon Valley is the southern part of the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California in the United States. The region is home to many of the world's largest technology corporations. The term originally referred to the region's large number of silicon chip innovators and manufacturers, but eventually came to refer to all the high-tech businesses in the area; it is now generally used as a metonym for the American high-tech sector. Despite the development of other high-tech economic centers throughout the United States and the world, Silicon Valley continues to be the leading hub for high-tech innovation and development, accounting for one-third of all of the venture capital investment in the United States. Geographically, the Silicon Valley encompasses all of the Santa Clara Valley including the city of San Jose (and adjacent communities), the southern Peninsula Valley, and the southern East Bay. [Tom took residence here in 1963.]
The Stepford Wives is a 2004 American science fiction film. It was directed by Frank Oz from a screenplay by Paul Rudnick and stars Nicole Kidman, Matthew Broderick, Bette Midler, Christopher Walken, Faith Hill and Glenn Close. The film is a remake of the 1975 film of the same name; both films are based on the Ira Levin novel The Stepford Wives. While the original book and film had tremendous cultural impact, the remake was marked by infighting behind-the-scenes, poor reviews by many critics, and a financial loss of approximately $40 million at the box office. [Tom says: surely not all wives were Stepford, yet the majority were conformists to a style of life overseen by their husbands. Female youth of that era silently refused the model of their mothers.]
45 years of Tom's ministry has been in what is called the Golden Ghetto or the Almaden Valley where comfortable living and wealth abound yet genuine human spirituality has yet to be discovered in the modern rat race of life. In the Valley there are many good intelligent people and wives are not all Stepford. We live for today, tomorrow be damned. We live immune to poverty, busy working, and most unaware of critical societal problems. Catholic Easterners come west to find a liberal religious thinking in Santa Clara County that was implanted here in the 1970's by seven Vatican Two' priests, six of whom married. People enjoy a release from fear of sin and hell, yet have not grasped the ability to be free as spiritual persons. They have no concept of their baptismal commitment, victims of infant baptism and shallow religious education. Those still loyal to parish are basically leaderless, except for a few social justice priests. Silent confusion reigns over the clerical sexual abuse issues; I am sure they wonder about the church's future. Many have left the institution and never speak of religion again. Modern medicine offers eternal earthly life. We age but we never die. Carpe diem!
Silicon Valley, Tom's hang out since 1967 All the Silicon Valley inventions are hidden behind closed doors, top secrets of the age Alvin Toffler predicted in Future Shock. Tom read all of Toffler's books with the Roman Church in mind.
Recent Headlines from California newspapers...
I will take up these headlines from my local papers next week.
Back here in the three dioceses of Oakland, San Francisco, and San José some episcopal shuffling has been underway. Opus Dei prelate Salvatore Cordileone, formerly the Bishop of Oakland, is to be installed as the Archbishop of San Francisco. This follows the resignation in Rome of Cardinal William Levada who will, some say, return to the Los Angeles area, there to live (perhaps) with retiring S.F. Archbishop George Niederaur. A young conservative bay area grown thinker Bishop Tom Daly will take over Oakland, much to the delight of the local priests. I went searching today for more facts and scuttlebutt but will have to wait another week for some straight stuff. I sense my mother would say that they are moving what might be called "big church fish around in a small pond of the Roman Catholic Sea". The Vatican always has a secret reason. The issue at the core may be gay marriage in California and throughout the United States. Sicilian church mafia have been called in to get the job done. Proposition 8 is the outward sign of the war on homosexuality.
Now I am aware that a whole commentary has been written without input from a woman or, worse still, no mention of women in the whole process. [Hang on, Tom, what about the Stepford Wives? ...ed] There is no mention of Vatican Two. Now where is this McMahon fellow headed?
Phyllis Zagano with impressions of her tour of Aus...
When I came home from my visit to the Blue Mountains three years ago I had a few personal convictions. I witnessed first hand the religious turmoil among the Australian Catholic people, cf. Phyllis Zagano's report in NCR on July 19th...
I talked with women of faith, courage, and convictions. They are not Stepford.
I saw the value of Catholica, especially its FORUM where expression of freedom of spirit and person are dominant, especially among women.
My vision of future church is being clarified. In Catholica I am a member of an international effort with the impossible task of forming a community of faith on the internet
Through Catholica each week the ingredients of a big stew of religious and spiritual information finds it way around the globe. The seeds of adult education are being planted globally. Catholica's people are modern day Jesus' apostles.
Tom McMahon is in good company, people who have conviction that Jesus is alive with meaningful teachings that can benefit the human race. THANKS you people down under for having the little boy from 15th street on board. I am content that the future belongs to those with courage and vision ... persons who know how to use the internet wisely, the only possible entry into the mysterious world of the disenchanted young. We have loads of hard work ahead. It is the duty of each follower of Jesus to live the master's life style, showing by example that a Jesus' way of life has genuine value to all humankind.
Tom McMahon, San Jose, Ca. ... thousands of miles from Sydney Harbor yet feeling right at home with thousands. 31Jul2012
What are your thoughts on this commentary?