We took our 9th grade
Confirmation kids to Steppenwolf Theater to
see The Crucible, by Arthur Miller
last Sunday afternoon. Before the play we
had terrific pizzas and bruschetta at a
great little bar just south of North Avenue.
All of this thanks to your generosity.
I believe that religious faith depends far
more on lively imaginations than accurate
recitations of doctrines and dogmas and
imaginations in our times have become
overwrought with fear and anxiety and have
little room for “entertaining angels” or
“rumors of resurrection.”
One of the reasons for the decline of
intentional affiliation with religious faith
among young people and their parents,
increasingly, their grandparents, is that
their days are filled with measurable
usually competitive activities.
The current operational mindset in our
country is a dualistic mindset.
We are either or we are
or we are rarely
Our impoverished and underdeveloped
imaginations believe, falsely, in my
opinion, that the human mind need not or
cannot tolerate shadows and inherent
contradictions in reality, that there is
some “real” truth and that there is “fake”
truth and we know the difference just
because we know it.
And yet, we have an enormous appetite for
and appreciation of all things Disney and
the virtual realities on our little screens
that are not at all real except in our
minds, and gambling our little hearts away
convinced that there is some personal force
working for us or against us.
We take sides, we are pro some things and
against other things without much doubt or
reflection on either the complexity of an
issue or position and with very little
consideration given to the opposing side. .
Competition is so important because we have
little toleration for down time, time that
cannot provide an accomplishment that can be
In competitions we “can always touch the
bottom” in the length of a game or a meet or
a band completion and know where we stand so
there is no doubt that the effort was worth
it or not worth it. We won or we lost we did
well or we did poorly.
Real and healthy Catholic belief cannot give
us the sense of security and accomplishment
that the filling out flow charts of
schedules of kid’s activities for months in
As long as we stick to the schedule we are
creating the sense of control and
predictability that keeps the demons at bay.
In this world of excess of carefully planned
and scheduled time the limits of possibility
are constricted and controlled so
imagination becomes fairly useless.
Artificial Intelligence is on the horizon as
I understand this, I really do but it is
exactly this constricted and controlled
world that virtually eliminates the
possibility of compassion and empathy that
is the foundation of any kind of healthy and
real Catholic Faith.
There is nothing stunning in an overloaded
schedule, nothing that takes our breath
away, no surprises, and no unanticipated nor
The rewards sooner or later are fatigue and
Steppenwolf Theater is committed to offering
dramas and comedies that surprise and
dislodge us from the tables we set as our
worlds. It does not always succeed but it
I want to take our kids there because I know
of no other way to expose them to something
that might, just might open a window in
their hearts or minds or both and let in
some fresh air.
I know that their teachers try to do that
with literature and science and mathematics.
The classroom teachers, I am sure, must
struggle because the literature and ideas
are increasingly the currency of test scores
not the beginnings of creative wisdom that
is gathered in to be handed on.
Attention spans of adults and children are
limited to seconds for most people and
minutes to a minority of others, I speak
from experience as I cannot sit still unless
I am away from this environment in a strange
place where I am detached from my usual
compulsions and addictions to my iPhone
Instant Messages and email accounts.
was about the importance of doubt and the
identity of truth in religion and in common
life written by Arthur Miller in 1953. The
commonly held assumption was that Miller
wrote the play as a confrontational allegory
of the mindset of Wisconsin Senator Joseph
McCarthy’s hunt for “Communists” in
government and, especially in Hollywood and
the entertainment industry.
McCarthy created the kind of paranoia that
comes and goes in this country that picks
out certain groups of people and decides
that “they” need to go anywhere but here in
Today, of course, in this country, it is
that whole group of people that get dumped
into the immigration bucket without any
doubt and very little regard for any kind of
In the Church it is all of the folks who
don’t pass the muster on correct objects of
their sexual desire or those who do but
don’t wait and act on those desires
and, of course, the poor souls who
got married and then got divorced for any
number of truthful reasons leaving doubts
about that first marriage and marry again in
a Church that has no doubts about the
correctness of their “truth.”