At least weekly – often daily – I read about some scandal or another at a church or religions organization – usually, Christian, as I live in the United States. These are sometimes very highly-placed people, and the scandals are of an obvious nature. You know the kind, the person doing them had to know they were wrong. You really can’t keep doing the same horrible things for years without some idea you’re awful.
But so often the organizations go on. The followers follow. Someone goes to jail or get sued, but they often go on. The rest of us go on because it’s just another scandal, and we’re all used to them because tomorrow there will be another.
And I wonder, who thinks of the theological repercussions of this – again for the mostly-Christian audience in my country. Why did their God (god? “god?”) allow such horrible things, abuse, scandal? Why didn’t anyone do anything at supposedly holy organizations?
I don’t understand how they go on.
A long term series of horrible acts show whatever Church of organization is just . . . a group of people. There’s no holy structure, there’s no divine order, there’s not even an organization, just a kind of group of people like anything else.
It’s really a reputation of most people’s very orderly idea of a monotheistic universe and warrants some pretty deep personal and theological contemplation.
Of course people don’t want to admit that they trusted the wrong people, that the organization won’t protect them. The people in the organization don’t want it to end for their own reasons, from belief to they’d be out of a job. So everyone just sort of goes on, maybe fiddles with theology, and it all continues.
Then there’s another scandal, and another.
What’s strange is that every scandal has to eat away a little more faith that people have. Each one is just another sign maybe you chose wrong or believed wrong and the divine order you want is not something you access. But to give up on that? Well that’s too hard, even if there’s really nothing there anymore.
I wonder how weak some religious organizations are. How much their scandals and failures have been patched over in people’s minds so often they might be close to breaking. I wonder what happens when things break and what reforms. I wonder what has broken that I just didn’t notice.
And in the end, I think all those people lying to themselves, trying to persevere, not admitting to themselves how messed up their church is, they all have to hurt. What’s it like to have things so repudiated, to be so betrayed, what does it take to go on? How much of you is left after you lied to yourself enough?
I don’t understand.
I guess I wish I did understand. But what does scare me is maybe there’s nothing to understand. Maybe at some point you just go on no matter what because stopping means you’ll have to look back.