The Heroes Journey, The Myth of Heroic Independence, and the Circle of Seven Essential Needs

Greetings and welcome. My name is Michael.

In this article I am are going to talk about six related topics.

I am going to talk about the myth of human independence and the critical importance of meeting our human needs.

I am going to talk about Abraham Maslow’s early theory of human needs and I’ll also talk about some of the problems with the iconic “Pyramid” that is used to represent him.

Then, I am going to introduce you to a new more modern theorization of human needs.

Finally, I am going to end with a statement bout expanding our view of human nature.

Let’s start with the myth of human independence.

If you have grown up on this world, then chances are good that you have been taught the myth that humans beings are these powerful, heroic, independent individuals who go on this lifelong journey of struggle, strife, and eventually triumph.

This “heroes” journey, as some have called it, is the titanic individual struggle to grow, develop, learn your lessons, and fight evil so that eventually, if you work hard enough, you might graduate to the next level, and maybe even save the world.

This line of thinking, this heroes mythology, makes for a great Hollywood blockbuster, but the truth is, our reality, the world that we ACTUALLY live in, and indeed our essence as human beings, is nothing at all like this blockbuster plot line.

The fact is, not a single one amongst us fits this heroic mythology.

The truth is, as individuals, as human beings, we are hopelessly dependent on each other for surival.

This dependence is obvious in the case of infants who are completely incapable of meeting even their most basic needs and who would quickly die without adult assistance.

It is not much better for young children, or even adolescents, both of whom remain dependent on adults for support and satisfaction of their various needs.

When you think deeply about it, even as adults, we are completely dependent on each other.

[images of people working on things]Everything from the food we eat to the clothing we wear, to the homes we live in to the cars we drive, to all the other commodities that make our modern lives comfortable and interesting, are brought to us via the LABOUR and effort of others.

If it wasn’t for all that shared labour,

…if it wasn’t for the awesome way we can exchange and trade all our products and services,

our world would be nothing at all like it is today.

The truth is, as human beings, we are completely dependent on each other.

If you doubt this, do a little thought experiment with me.

Imagine you suddenly find yourself lost in a forest alone, days from civilization, with nothing but the cloths on your back.

Now ask yourself, how long do you think you would survive in the forest without help?

Chances are, not very long. And even if you are some kind of Grisly Adams who could survive alone in the woods, what kind of life would you have?

I can tell you, it would be nothing like the life you enjoy in this modern world of global interdependence.

Propoganda to the contrary, humans have the particular distinction of being the most inter-DEPENDENT species on the planet.

Humans can SURVIVE only with the help of each other.

Humans can THRIVE only with the help of each other.

….

Now, if you accept the fact that humans aren’t a species of independent heroes on this epic solo journey through life, then what?

Well, the complex and profound interdependency that we are all embedded in raises some important questions, not the least of which is if humans ARE so inter-dependent, then how do we, as this interdependent species of people interested in creating a better world, organize life and create environments that allow us to develop our full potential.

It is a reasonable question to ask, and in fact, we ask and answer this question all the time.

For example, if a gardener wants to grow tomatoes that fully actualize the genetic potential of the seed, the gardner will ask, “what do I need to do to grow the healthiest, juiciest tomatoes.”

It is the same for a farmer. If a farmer wants to grow healthy wheat fields or healthy livestock, the farmer will ask the question, what do I need to do.

We can ask this question of humans as well.

The answer, for tomatoes, for wheat fields, and for humans, is the same.

If you want to grow healthy tomatoes, if you want to grow healthy livestock, if you want to grow a healthy anything for that matter, you must create an environment within which all the ESSENTIAL needs of the thing you are trying to grow are adequately and sufficiently met.

The only real question is, what constitutes the essential needs of an organism.

In the case of tomaties, that’s easy. To grow healthy tomatoes you have to do four things.

Number one, you have to provide them with the right soil

Number two, you have to make sure they get the right amount of water.

Number three, you have to ensure they get get the right amount of sunlight, and finally… Number four, you have to make sure to protect them from pests and animals that would trample on them or eat them before they are full grown.

It is the same for wheat fields, animals, and even humans.

If you want these things to grow up healthy, if you want them to meet their full potential, you make sure that you meet all their needs.

Simple, and, I think, self-evident.

If you want things to grow up healthy and whole, of course you have to meet all their needs.

Now, if you do accept what appears to be this self-evident truth, then the question for us is, what constitutes the essential needs of the human being.

Now, at first glance, this might seem like a hard question to answer, but its not.

The question itself has been on the plate of psychologists since at least 1943 when Abraham Maslow published an article theorizing about humanity’s essential needs.

In this 1943 article, and in his later work, Abraham Maslow said that humans had many different needs which needed to be satisfied if humans were to grow up healthy, happy, and fully actualized.

In the original article, Maslow organized these needs into TWO essential hierarchies.

The first hierarchy, and the hierarchy everybody is familiar with, is the hierarchy of basic needs.

As proposed by Maslow, this basic needs hierarchy includes the needs for food, water, safety, security, belonginess, love, esteem, and self actualization.

The second hierarchy Maslow proposed was the hierarchy of cognitive needs.

In this hierarchy, Maslow placed two needs, the need to know and the need to understand.

With these two hierarchies, Maslow provided the foundation for a sophisticated theory of human needs that remains influencial down to this day.

However, it is important to note that as sophisticated as the original statement was, Maslow’s original statements were only preliminary.

Later on, as his thinking evolved, Maslow added additional needs.

In 1954, for example, Maslow added ascetic needs, or the need for calm and pleasing environments.

Later on in the sixties, Maslow added a “spiritual” need which he called the need for transcendence.

Taken together, these two hierarchies of need, and the later additions, provide a comprehensive outline of what humans need if they are to grow up to be healthy, happy, and whole.


Now, many people are familiar with at least part of Maslow’s theory through the now iconic “pyramid” of needs…

However, there are some serious problems with this iconic representation.

The first problem with this pyramid is that Maslow never suggested a pyramid as the visual model for his theory of needs.

The closet Maslow came to providing a visual was his suggestion that human needs functioned like nested boxes which could be shuffled about as people worked to satisfy their various needs.

The second problem with this pyramid is that the pyramid itself was created by a psychologist working for a big management firm.

This psychologist was not interested in using Maslow’s theory to help human beings grow and actualize their full potential.

He wanted to use Maslow’s theory to find cheaper and more effective ways to manipulate and motivate workers.

He chose to represent Maslow’s theory with a pyramid not because the pyramid was a faithful representation, but because it presented a particular spin on the theory, one that detracted from its inherent humanism and twisted it into something that supported not the actualization of human potential, but the capitalist’s manipulation of the working classes.

In other words, the pyramid is a distorted simplification and misrepresentation of Maslow’s seminal theory.

So what do we do?

Well, we could try to correct the pyramid by incorporating Maslow’s later additions, but that’s not a good solution for a couple of reasons.

For one, putting all the various needs together into a single pyramid would get a little messy, visually speaking.

For two, as Maslow originally recognized with his visual of the nexted boxes, human needs are more complex and variable than a ridgid pyramid suggests.

Finally, the pyramid, and in particular it’s placement of SELF actualization at the top, is a neo-liberal misrepresentation of human potential that reflects the labour requirements of capitalism and not full human potential.

For these reasons, I feel we need a fresh icon.

My choice is to incorporate Maslow’s various needs into a Circle of Seven Essential Needs.

In this circle, we have three rings.

In the outer ring we have the Basic Needs –

The basic needs include the physiological needs for food, water, and shelter, the cognitive needs to know and understand,

the psychological needs for freedom, power, and esteem, the emotional needs for love and belonging,

and the environmental need for a safe, secure, and aesthetically pleasing environment.

I want to emphasize here that the bsic needs are very important.

Completely meeting these needs is the only way to ensure a physical mind and body healthy enough to unproblematically align and connect.

Speaking of alignment and connection, in the middle circle we have the human need for alignment. Alignment here refers to our multidimensional need to align with both our inner and outer selves.

What’s the difference? Well, the inner self is who we are inside.

The inner self consists of our biological, psychological, emotional, and spiritual inner beings, all tied together as one.

We all have a powerful need to align with this inner being so that, in Abraham Maslow’s terms, we can actualize our true self.

The outer self, on the other hand, is that part of our self that emerges from our connections with various key groups in our lives, like family, friends, community, nation, our ancestors, and so on.

It is not that hard to understand this need to connect with our outer selves.

As an organism that is completely dependent on others, we have always needed to be included in a group.

In our distance past, and even down to this day, if we were not included in some kind of group, we simply could not have survived.

As a consequence of this, we have evolved a powerful need to belong.

Of course, if you want to get accepted and included in a group, you are expected to align your morals, norms, values, and behaviours with the standards and expectations of the group.

If you are not sufficiently aligned, you jeapordize your ability to “fit in.”

So you can see, alignment is an important you must meet.

However, understand that alignment is only the first step. The reason why you need to align is so that you can meet your need for connections.

Connection here refers to your ability to “transcend” the boundaries of your bodily ego and connect with those aspects of your being that lie both inside and outside your individual and isolated egoic self.

Inner connection is connection to your biological, psychological, emotional, and spiritual inner being.

Outer connection is connection to your parents, your children, other adults, nature, and even the entire cosmos.

Alignment followed by both inner and outer connection are required if you are to grow up healthy and achieve your full potential.


I think this is a good place to stop. To review, I started this presentation with the notion that the “heroes” story, this notion that humans are independent, heroic travellers on a journey leading to epic personal triumph, is silly.

The truth is, as humans, we are dependent on each other. As such, a key question becomes, how do we, as a species, work together to create healthy environments where we can all grow and develop to our full human potential.

The answer to that question is simple.

In order to create a world where we can all grow up to actualize our full potential, collectively we need to create spaces where we can meet all our essential needs.

We can use the updated Circle of Seven Essential not only to map out what we need to do get started on creating these spaces, but also to reenvision our human nature so we can finally move beyond the individualistic, solipsistic, isolated, and pathologically disconnected hero that has dominated our consciousness for thousands and thousands of years.

Demystifying Money – Videos

Watch the Videos

Capitalism is a destructive system. Capitalism is a vicious system. Capitalism’s engine is addiction (Sosteric 2018) and this addiction will destroy the world, or make it a very unpleasant place (Sosteric 2019). Despite all that, however, most people believe in Capitalism as a superior, God-given economic and political system. Alternatives, like socialism or communism, are demonized in exactly the same way Satan is demonized. All you have to is listen to the orange gremlin to know this is true. Most people condemn socialism or communism without even knowing what they are and how they are different than the Capitalist system.

How do you fight this? Rational arguments often fail because they are complex and long-winded, and most people are locked in a rotted false consciousness, and made susceptible to oppressive narratives by years and decades of ongoing indoctrination by the corporate media machine, and the  ongoing damaging assaults of Toxic Socialization; However, there is a simple way to open the discussion and shift the ideological ground, and that is to demystify money. Under Capitalism, you see, money is a mystified concept. Under capitalism, most people have no clue what money is. If you ask them, they’ll say “Money is a medium of exchange” or “Money is a store of value” or “Money is a medium for exchanging value?” While these definitions are technically correct, they are incomplete mystifications. They do not speak to the actual “value” that is contained in money because if they did, Capitalism would be impossible to defend. Capitalism gains legitimacy only because most people do not understand money. Put another way, faith in Capitalism can only be sustained when people do not understand what money is. Once they understand, justifications and excuses crumble as the true nature of The System is clearly exposed. This is why, as you’ll see in the videos below, even economics textbooks fail to provide a demystified definite.

It is worthwhile teaching everybody the true nature of money. Once you do, criticisms of Capitalism come into sharper focus, justification and excuses become harder to maintain, and an authentic dialog on alternatives, a dialog absence of all the invective encouraged by a confused understanding of the dynamics of capitalism, can be opened. The videos below demystify money and show why money is mystified in the first place. They also open space for interesting classroom discussions.

Inequality. For example, if money is labour time, then what exactly does a fancy car, a yacht, or a mansion represent if not the accumulation of ossified labour time? My house is my house because I used money to command another person’s labour time. Their labour is thus present in the money I paid and in the house manifested by their labour. When you see money clearly for what it is, inequalities inherent in systems organized around accumulation come into sharp focus as unfair and illegitimate.

Debt. Another important area of modern economic activity that comes into clearer focus when you demystify money is debt. If money is labour time, then what exactly is debt, and is it even a real thing? Modern-day elites have made it very clear debt, no matter how outrageous it may seem, is never a problem for them. There is always more money for the military, for bank bailouts, for tax breaks for them, and so on. Debt is only a concern when speaking about social programs, and about fairer distribution of society’s productive output. Clearly, debt is as insubstantial as vapour. So why is that? Once you understand money is labour time it becomes easy to see debt as merely a cudgel constructed and used by elites to discipline and control entire populations. Debt is, after all, the favourite tool of elite actors who use it to justify “austerity” (i.e. cut-backs to social programs, to education, to health care) even while giving themselves trillion dollar bail-outs. They tell the poor debt is a thing because it allows them to props unfair and cruel practices that allow them to redistribute worker’s labour value to themselves. distribution practices. As an economic factor, debt is empty. As a weapon to control the masses and facilitate accumulation by “the chosen,” debt is real and extremely useful.

Future videos in this series will address “the work,” which is all the effort Capitalists have to put into maintaining The System, and alternatives to capitalism. You can preview the videos by accessing the playlist below.

Watch the Videos

Buy my book on money and debt

 

Refs

Sosteric, Mike. 2018. “How Money Is Destroying the World.” The Conversation.

Sosteric, Mike. 2019. “The Red Pill or the Blue Pill: Endless Consumption or Sustainable Future?” The Conversation.

 

The Trouble with Atheists

Let's face it, these hidden laws [of mysticism] are hidden, but they are only hidden by [your] own ignorance. And the word mystical is just arrived at through people's ignorance. There's nothing mystical about it, only that you're ignorant of what that entails." ― George Harrison

The trouble with atheists is that they are fighting a battle with a delusion, which is not that surprising. Atheists pride themselves on their rational, secular intelligence. Atheists can see the patent absurdity of God as a violent, abusive, and controlling patriarch (Church God), and the untenability of belief based on blind faith, and so they reject the whole thing. They feel it is foolish to believe in something “just because,” and so they do not. They reject the patent absurdity and settle into a lifetime commitment to the Church of Secular Humanism.

This is not an unreasonable position to take. However, as a former atheist myself, I would like to say that rejecting the violent and patriarchal church god is not the same, or shouldn’t be the same, as rejecting human spirituality in toto. There is something more to human spirituality than what you find presented at the pews in the churches of the big-name ecclesiastical brands. Frankly, I’m not the only scholar to say this. Consider that Einstein (Hermanns 1983), several famous physicists (Wilber 2001), not a few psychologists (Arthur Hastings 2010; Maslow 1969; Stace 1960a), and a small handful of sociologists (for example, see Hermanns 1983; Rowbotham 1980) have suspected, participated in, and even researched this “something more” for quite some time. Despite what polemicists like Richard Dawkins (2006) would have you believe, there has been a significant amount of reasonable scholarly interest in the “something more” of human spirituality for a very, very long time.

If this is true, then the immediate question must be, what is the something more. In two word phrases, the answer is “mystical experience,” “religious experience,” “transcendent experience,” or what I simply call Connection Experience (Sosteric 2018a). Connection experience is an important aspect of human spirituality, and a few scholars have recognized and noted it as such. Founding psychologist William James took mystical experience seriously when he called mystics the “pattern-setters” whose experiences established religious traditions (James 1982). Psychologists (Heriot-Maitland 2008) have noted that “mystical experience… constitute[d] the very essence of religion, such that the origin of a given tradition can often be traced to an initial transcendent encounter, moment of revelation, salvation, or enlightenment.” Abraham Maslow, founding father of humanistic psychology, spent the bulk of his career looking at “peak experiences,” which is a secular name for a secular type of mystical experiences. Like others who have studied these, he felt that mystical experience was the “intrinsic core” and essence, the universal nucleus of every known … religion #(Maslow, 2012: 339)#. Stace, an early pioneer in the study of mystical experience, said that mystical experience was "a psychological fact of which there is abundant evidence." He further went on to say that, "To deny or doubt that it exists as a psychological fact is not a reputable opinion.” It is ignorance and "very stupid" (Stace 1960b:14). Indeed, spiritual experience has been a central feature of all human existence. From the earliest emergence of humanity (Hamer 2005) to our current modern experiences, mystical experience is a psychological and neurological fact. With modern brain scanning technologies we can observe the neurological reality of mystical experience (Newberg, d’Aquile, and Rause 2001; Newberg and Waldman 2009).

Is this true? Is connection experience really the authentic root core and essence of human spirituality. It is possible. Certainly, it should be considered. Connection experience is a common human experience that has been recorded and discussed for thousands of years. Not only that, but just about everybody has them (Sosteric 2018a). What’s more, connection experiences are significant human experiences that lead to a wide range of positive and transformative psychological, intellectual, and emotional outcomes (Bien 2004; Hanes 2012). A single connection experience can heal (Hawks 2002; Mahoney and Pargament 2004; Vaillant 2002) and dramatically transform (White 2004) an individual, and not just emotionally or psychologically. Mystical practices and mystical experience have political implications. They can lead to social class realignment, a so-called “turn to the left” (Sosteric 2018b), meaningful social change (Erika Summers-Effler and Hyunjin Deborah Kwak 2015), and even revolutionary social action (Harvey 1998).

The ubiquity, significance, and obvious reality of connection experience might go along way to explaining why secularization has not significantly progressed as some sociologists had predicted and hoped for (Berger 1968, 1999). Human beings are unlikely to simply dismiss something as significant and ubiquitous as human experience, despite what some academics might say. Despite the fact that church attendance continues to decline, atheism has not expanded significantly. Only about three percent of American’s identify themselves as committed atheists, and the numbers aren’t that impressive anywhere else. We have nine percent in Canada, twelve percent in Norway and Germany, and a “staggering” nineteen percent in France (Hunsberger and Altemeyer 2006). Clearly the world is not beating a pathway to the “higher rationality” of the atheist perspective. Certainly, suggesting that the empirical reality of connection experience is what keeps the majority of humans tuned in to human spirituality is a more satisfying explanation that an explanation than one that disparages believers as irrational, illogical, and even stupid.

In any case, the point being made here is simple. It is reasonable for thoughtful people to reject the notion of Church God; however, it is not reasonable to reject humans spirituality in toto just because we find one aspect of it is questionable. Clearly, there is more to human spirituality than what you find represented in church pews. As briefly intimated in this research note, this more is connection experience. Connection experience is a class of human experiences that are powerful, transformative, healing, and empirically verifiable. Connection experience is a significant and fascinating aspect of human experience and one that we, and by “we” I mean scholars, cannot simply dismiss.

References

Arthur Hastings. 2010. “William James, Conversion and Rapid, Radical Transformation.” Journal of Consciousness Studies 17(11–12):116–20.

Berger, Peter. 1968. A Bleak Outlook Is Seen for Religion. Vol. April 25. The New York Times.

Berger, Peter. 1999. The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics. Grand Rapids MI: Eerdmans.

Bien, Thomas H. 2004. “Quantum Change and Psychotherapy.” Journal of Clinical Psychology (5):493.

Dawkins, Richard. 2006. The God Delusion. New York: Mariner Books.

Erika Summers-Effler, and Hyunjin Deborah Kwak. 2015. “Weber’s Missing Mystics: Inner-Worldly Mystical Practices and the Micro Potential for Social Change.” Theory and Society 44(3):251–82.

Hamer, Dean H. 2005. The God Gene: How Faith Is Hardwired into Our Genes. New York: Anchor.

Hanes, Karl. 2012. “Unusual Phenomena Associated With a Transcendent Human Experience: A Case Study.” The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology 44(1):26–47.

Harvey, Andrew. 1998. Teachings of the Christian Mystics. Kindle. Boston: Shambhala Publications.

Hawks, David. 2002. “Quantum Change: Bridging the Schism Between Science and Spirituality, Ordinary People Tell Their Stories of Extraordinary Change: When Epiphanies and Sudden Insight Transform Ordinary Lives (Book).” Addiction 97(6):763.

Heriot-Maitland, Charles P. 2008. “Mysticism and Madness: Different Aspects of the Same Human Experience?” Mental Health, Religion & Culture 11(3):301–25.

Hermanns, William. 1983. Einstein and the Poet. Boston: Branden Books.

Hunsberger, Bruce, and Bob Altemeyer. 2006. Atheists: A Groundbreaking Study of America’s Nonbelievers. New York: Prometheus Books.

James, William. 1982. The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study of Human Nature. New York: Penguin.

Mahoney, Annette, and Kenneth I. Pargament. 2004. “Sacred Changes: Spiritual Conversion and Transformation.” Journal of Clinical Psychology (5):481.

Maslow, A. H. 1969. “The Farther Reaches of Human Nature.” Journal of Transpersonal Psychology 1(1):1–9.

Newberg, Andew, Eugene d’Aquile, and Vince Rause. 2001. Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief. New York: Ballantine Books.

Newberg, Andrew, and Mark Robert Waldman. 2009. How God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading Neuroscientist. New York: Ballantine Books.

Rowbotham, Sheila. 1980. “In Search of Edward Carpenter.” Radical America 14(4).

Sosteric, Mike. 2018a. “Everybody Has a Connection Experience: Prevalence, Confusions, Interference, and Redefinition.” Spirituality Studies 4(2).

Sosteric, Mike. 2018b. “Mystical Experience and Global Revolution.” Athens Journal of Social Sciences 5(3):235–55.

Stace, Walter Terence. 1960a. Mysticism and Philosophy. London: Macmillan.

Stace, Walter Terence. 1960b. The Teachings of the Mystics. New York: Mentor.

Vaillant, George E. 2002. “Quantum Change: When Epiphanies and Sudden Insights Transform Ordinary Lives.” American Journal of Psychiatry: Official Journal of the American Psychiatric Association (9):1620.

White, William L. 2004. “Transformational Change: A Historical Review.” Journal of Clinical Psychology 60(5):461–70.

Wilber, Ken. 2001. Quantum Questions: Mystical Writings of the World’s Great Physicists. New York: Shambhala.

What is Money?

Various types of money

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The Toxic and Repressive Culture of the Catholic Church

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I’m just about 90% of the way through a rewrite of my Sociology of Religion course. One of the arguments I make in the course is that religion is an institutionalized attempt to answer life’s Big Questions, but that it is hijacked by special interest groups, like ancient Persian high priests, Roman Emperors, and even the boys in your local Freemason lodge, for venal financial and political purposes. I’m not going to go into details about all that here except to say, I’m not the only one who thinks that way. Enter Father Juan Carlos Gavancho, a priest who was fired from his job in LA after he delivered a sermon critical of the Catholic Church.

What did the good father say to get himself canned? He basically called out the abusive culture of the Catholic Church. He called those who aided and abetted pedophiles traitors to the Christian faith. He called out their toxic culture of silencing and abuse. He appealed to the laity to take action and rise up. You can find the full homily here. As he says:

Speak out! Do you want the Gospel? Do you want Christ? Do you want heaven? Do you want the truth? Or do you just want what we find everywhere in the world, which is what we really want to hear, what is pleasing to our ears. Demand change in the Church. It’s not going to be enough, just adding a couple of policies to this taking care of the children. It’s not going to be enough just to see three, four, or five cardinals resigning, and ten bishops resigning — it’s not going to be enough. We need to see real change. We need to go back to be faithful to Christ, to Our Lord Christ, not the world. We are here to change the world, not the world to change us. We are the light of the world; we are not equal with the world. We have Christ. We have the truth.

His sermon is really quite remarkable. In it, he points to a pervasive toxic culture of abuse in the Church, where the men in power use economic sticks and psychological tricks to punish the priests and bishops who speak out and speak up. He says priests and bishops who speak, who “make waves,” who do not “go along with everything,” who are instead faithful to the truth and to Christ, “live a life of great suffering” that is “difficult” and “not fun.”

You need to pray for discernment, to pray for the Church, to pray for you, for your children. To pray for your priests, especially for so many bishops who are good, still, and priests who are good, faithful. Who have suffered greatly all these decades, and all these years, being moved from one parish to another because they were preaching the truth, and the pastor or the bishop didn’t like that, so they moved to another place, and another place, living a life of great suffering — they are there. And it’s not fun. It is difficult. You cry a lot, because you feel lonely. Forgotten. Despised. Only because you wanted to be faithful to Christ, but your speech, and your homilies didn’t fit with the ideas of these people who wanted to destroy the Church, and who wanted you to say nice things to the people. Don’t make waves. Just go along with everything. Don’t make people nervous. Just, you know, speak about general things, so people are not aware of what’s going on.

He makes this sermon and he knows he’s walking on thin ice by doing so. He wants to say more, but he is afraid to for fear that he will be kicked out.

“There are more things I want to say, but I don’t say it because I want to be here next week.”

The Church’s response to this priest is abrupt, demeaning, brutal, and pretty much exactly what Father Juan Carlos Gavancho expected. Two days after his sermon, he was literally thrown out of his home. His ejection was so fast, he barely has time to collect his things. It was so abrupt, he was forced to spend the night in the hotel.

The pastor of his parish, Our Lady of Sorrows in Santa Barbara, asked him to meet privately at 6pm on Tuesday, two days after delivering the homily. The pastor told him that he had to get out of the rectory that evening. The parish will pay to store your things for one week, Gavancho said he was told, but after that, you’re on your own. Gavancho spent that night in a hotel, with as many of his belonging as he could stuff into his car stored there.

Unfortunately, the abuse didn’t end with his termination. His story was picked up initially, it seems, sympathetically by The American Conservative, but he suffered character assassination as a consequence. In the hopes that readers would not take his story seriously, he was described in way that patriarchs talk about women, as “difficult to get along with,” “not good with money,” full of drama” and “ just looking for people to feel sorry.”

Father Gavancho’s experience may be horrifying, especially coming at the hands of a Church that is supposed to represent the love and compassion of Christ, but is it really so surprising? The Catholic Church’s protection of abusers is well known, and to this day, they continue to avoid real solutions. Any institution, any culture, that tells its members they will go to hell if they do not follow the rules, any institution that finds a way to protect adults that sexually abuse children, cannot have a healthy core. It should come as no surprise, therefore, to find that the authorities inside lack empathy. It should come as no surprise to hear that priests who speak out “live a life of great suffering.” It should come as no surprise to hear Father Gavancho is afraid to speak out with the full truth.

I mean, wouldn’t you be?

If you thought that speaking out would get you fired from your job and kicked out of your home, if you thought your character would be assassinated and your voice mercilessly silenced, would you not be afraid to speak out? As the collective record clearly shows, the answer to that question, if you are like most people, is yes. Yes, you would be afraid. Given a choice between speaking out against abuse or staying silent as the proverbial lamb, if you are like most people, then no, you would not speak out.

But who can blame you? Who can blame anyone? I mean… this is not a game. Just look at what they did to Juan Carlos. Our reputations, our jobs, our families, even our personal survival is at stake. Step out of line and sing a different rhyme and they will crush you into a financial and psychological pulp. It is not cowardice that prevents us from standing up, it is prudence. We are not wrong to think about ourselves, our children, or our family; we are smart, and wise, and true. Who wants to end up like Father Juan Carlos, after all, a fired and feminized wreck.

Australia burning, Christmas 2019

Still, when you look at the bigger picture, you see, the Earth is literally on fire, and children are probably still being abused within the Church, so at some point real soon, alot of people are going to have to stand up, and allot of things are going to have to change — else I fear we’ll end up like Plato’s Atlantis.

It won’t be easy, of course, and there may be some struggle, but in the long run, standing up is the only way to take back control of the planet from the abusers, and save ourselves from almost certain disaster.

As Father Juan Carlos says…

We are here to change the world, not the world to change us. We are the light of the world; we are not equal with the world. We have Christ. We have the truth.

To that I’ll just add, if we work together, we have the power, the skill, the ability, and the truth we need to get the job done.

Further Exploration