What is worse for a religious organization than gossip? What is worse for the reputation of a believer than an unsubstantiated rumor, flavored with enough substance to simulate credibility, unverifiable by normal sources and just toooooo gooood to pass up particularly if the story is about a well-known person or, better yet, about someone who provokes one's jealousy?
Religious organizations split over their (perceived) stance on gender issues, national politics and the color of drapes in the rectory. You know it to be true. How many current controversies find exacerbation in the Religious Urban Myth? You know the one, it begins with the voice dropped an octave, the knowing look, made sympathetic by the down-turned head, so declined in fact, that, despite the height of the transmitter or the low-down depths of the receiver, the transmitter must actually, somehow, seem to look up through bushy eyebrows, his speech accompanied by a mild, world weary shrug. You just know this messenger speaks sad truth. He must fight against aberrant cynicism to offer his sad message. His intimate awareness of things he could not possibly know burden him frightfully but he must warn you (and you and you and you).
His information is like the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz. That is him, over there and over there and over there. He is straw but he is man. Never mind his contributions will burn frightfully high on the Last Day. He is unconcerned with the Last Day, for he must have his day now. His reward comes when others who would in no way give him attention suddenly pay intense heed to his words. He is larger when he makes others smaller.
Many a career has been viciously interrupted by a firing, a forced termination or something of the kind. These interruptions we can see. How many others (they are legion) feel the sting of the after lunch meeting? You know, the smoke filled prayer room where the real decisions get made, where the spin is on and the fix is in.
Is there a time in Church History when people do not offer their subjective analysis of objective fact? Is there a time when men more fearful of Satan's opposition than of God's awesome power decide they will work out their aggression on those they can reach with their tongues?
For the next few days, God being our help, we will take some time to explore the depths of depravity, the after conference gossip sessions where career-long mediocrities dwell, safe from the attacks of the Real Enemy behind battlements built from the slain bodies of their countrymen.
Curiously, a cursory inspection of the bodies in the battlement would reveal they died from wounds inflicted from behind them, as they faced the Real Enemy. How can this be so?
Tomorrow, Tuesday, we will start to see.