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book review

Repair My House: Becoming a “Kindom” Catholic

By Michael Crosby (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2012)
Reviewed by Diana Culbertson, OP

“Blockbuster” is a word usually used for bad movies.  I don’t know of another word, however, that adequately describes what Michael Crosby has accomplished in this study of how reflection on Trinitarian love can help us to understand the problems of current Church structure.  Basing his analysis on the Gospel of Matthew particularly, Crosby distinguishes between what he describes as Culture I Catholics and Culture II Catholics.  The former base their ecclesiology primarily on Matthew 16: “Thou art Peter….” Culture II Catholics emphasize Matthew 18: “Where two or three are gathered….” Crosby’s argument is that tradition has eclipsed scripture as a way of understanding the Church.

The community emphasized in Matthew 18 is the Church the author describes as the most authentic continuation of Trinitarian love. The “economy” of the Trinity, is the model of what should be the “household “ of the Church.  Mutual love, dynamic interrelations, mission—this is the origin of Church.  This is the model that should govern the household founded by Jesus Christ.  Authoritarianism, compulsion, exclusionary tactics—these do not flow from the mission of Jesus which is in turn the mission of the Father and Son.    Catholics, the author urges, must let go of a past dominated by an overly patriarchal and clericalized form of Catholicism to embrace a new way of making Catholicism come alive.  This new model requires us to go back to Jesus’ original proclamation.  Jesus invited people to a new “way,” a dao, demanding a conversion to a new understanding of how to bring about God’s kingdom on earth.  The “good news” was itself a radical displacement of the Roman term for announcement.  The Gospel of Jesus was a new announcement of a new kind of kingdom—a “kindom.” Jesus called for a new way of living with one another, a way that is modeled on the  “economic” Trinity, the “household” of three Persons in communion, three Persons whose love for One Another is to be shared with all of creation.

The “kindom” of Trinitarian connectedness must be the model of God’s “kindom” on earth. Crosby lists what he describes as seven “sacramentals” that envision ways to live in the “kindom” proclaimed by Christ.  The cosmic way requires that we move from a human-centered “anthropological “ world-view to an eco-centric or creation-centered stance toward all of life. The “Christic” way to live acknowledges that a new order has begun on earth that disallows divisions based on sex, gender, tribe, nationality, age, race, or clerical status.. Divisions based on inequality cannot reflect Trinitarian love. The “ kindom” announced by Christ requires a new consciousness, a new awakening, returning us to a realization of what is important in life. Since all creation is from God, all creation is connected.  Understanding our “connectedness” is fundamental to our relations in the “kindom.”  The contemplative way leads us to compassion and addresses particularly those situations where people are marginalized and urges us to work for necessary changes in society.  The compassionate way enables us to see and to respond to our neighbor.  All of these “ways” lead to a community that is both Christic and cosmic.

Essential to understanding Crosby’s analysis is his argument that the crisis of faith in the Church is really a crisis of meaning.  The environment that has dominated the Church in the last several generations (if not before) is caused by the contradiction between a mystical organic identity reflective of mutual love and communion—in short, the Trinity of Love and— and an organizational identity that is closed, exclusive, authoritarian, and ultimately dysfunctional.  If this is a harsh analysis, Crosby does not leave us without hope.  The Gospel continues to bring transformative power in our personal, communal, and institutional behavior.  But the deepest meaning of the Gospel must be recovered if the Church is to be an instrument of holiness for the Household of God, the Kindom. 

Focus on FutureChurch

Summer 2013


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