Using the image of Monsignor Ronald Knox, “Within the Revolted City,”* one sees clearly that our planet is still that dreadful place. Gangs roam and ravage, seeking to quell their fears by making others feel what they refuse to feel in themselves: cowardice, dread, anguish, despair. Unforgiveness is the O/S, blame is the coin of the realm, and violence the cathartic pay-off.
Atop this unholy polis, like a mocking regent, sits Lucifer in dulcet, preening self-aggrandizement. All appears under his malevolent sway and power. His sole fear is that somehow the tiny crack in his city’s wall – caused 2,000 years ago by the One who, then, really did strike fear into him -- that tiny crack may one day bring down his ruinous reign and all the world’s kingdoms that parody his own. But his forces seem greater, more powerful and deadly today than ever. The tiny crack no longer concerns him.
But that tiny crack has both allowed something into his city and into the heart of every citizen of it. No longer are humans consigned merely to the heroic, or romantic, or lyrical -- noble human qualities at one time -- but now there is the breeze of the providential. One sees it in the best literature, like Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and hears it in Leonard Cohen's Anthem, for example (Golding tries in his The Dionysus Mandate, too). In these there is the ineffable conviction of unseen help, beyond satanic power, pistols, pomp, and policies. And beyond even the cessation of biological life itself (Gandalf, Lenny).
And this providential help is not impersonal or transpersonal. It is “more we ourselves than we are are ourselves.” There is no need to stand off from it, fearing its influence or intrusion. It is mother’s milk, father’s arms, spouse's steadfast love, children at the table -- comfort, joy, red meat, mead, wine, and Home all in One.
And this Personal has a human face and name. And Mother.
This is the Good News of that tiny crack. It has not only breeched Satan's city wall. Its fissure runs through every human heart, only asking for the chance to broaden, widen, and let in the light of life and breeze of the Holy Spirit.
One of the best spokesmen at work thematizing this providential hope is Gil Bailie. For many years, Bailie worked along literary lines, mixing in insights of Carl Jung's analytical psychology -- but this, again, only gave a shove to the most noble aspects of human nature (Tenemos). It could not go further than the impersonal help of the collective unconscious -- a questionable source of assistance, at best. Then came Gil's discovery of René Girard's mimetic theory. Like nothing else, Girard's work gave Bailie the lens through which to view the "revolted city" of Lucifer with clinically forensic eyes (The Florilegia Institute).
But now Bailie has turned his attentive work to the providential tiny crack (The Cornerstone Forum) with such projects as The Emmaus Road Initiative.
I, for one, laud Bailie's work and urge readers to support his work. It is time to lean more heavily on providence, cursing the darkness less and letting the light in more.
Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That's how the light gets in. -- Leonard Cohen, "Anthem"
*University Sermons [1963, 322]