Joy in Adversity: National Leadership Roundtable

Before I leave for a retreat, I thought I'd post this video, from the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management, on the topic of joy during times of adversity.  The talk was at their annual meeting, this June, at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and--weirdly for me--in full view of my sophomore dorm.  Michael O'Loughlin, one of our newest bloggers, is at the top of the piece.  Hope you enjoy it.  The complete set of videos of the addresses from this year's conference (including an excellent talk by John Allen, in which he provides an astute overview of the future of the church, and demonstrates an almost preternatural command of data) is on their site here.


James Martin, SJ from The Leadership Roundtable on Vimeo.

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ed gleason
8 years 8 months ago
I find. in todays readings, Abraham's haggling with God a humorous scene in a crisis situation, quite like our own times. Thanks.
8 years 8 months ago
Good points made and a very funny speech!

That said, we live in a culture that only desires the trivial, ironic and the "funny" - this is not healthy humor - it is a sickly ironic humor that no longer believes in any truth or goodness in this world.  Just look at the numbers of youth who get their news and views from the kings of liberal irony, Stewart and Colbert.

As for the mass, it is the recreation of the bloody sacrific of Christ and, obviously, is no laughing matter.  If anything, there is too much irreverence at mass (attire, attitudes of laity and preachers etc.), rather than too little.

Yes, as Catholics we should show the hope and humor that we have because the living God is with us - Archbishop Dolan would be a good example.  That said, we should also show respect for truth and serious endevours that are lacking in our nihilistic socitey that seeks to laugh at everything.

Amusing ourselves to death, as the saying goes...
8 years 8 months ago
Not to be a party pooper, but I think we, Father Jim included, sometimes confuse humor and happiness.  Just because we laugh at something does not mean we are happy; and indeed, much of what we laugh at is at the expense of others: ''Why didn't Jesus go to college?  He got nailed on the Boards,'' evokes laughter, but is it joyous?  Does it evoke happiness?

Would Father Jim's comedy routine encourage young men to join the priesthood?  And if so, with all due respect to Father Martin, is that the sort of image that we want would-be novitiates to aspire to?

Catholics laughing at Catholicism is as old as Catholicism itself; it’s an easy target because it comes with serious messages.  Making fun of the Church invokes laughter, but it does nothing to bring out the joy and happiness that comes from Christ.  So while I agree with Father’s theme of lightening up and finding the joy in Catholicism, I think his delivery distorted his intended message.
8 years 8 months ago
Thank you Father Jim for sharing your joy and wonderful sense of humor with us.  It is contagious!  Your points are excellent and well-taken.  Wasn't it that mirthful Englishman, G.K. Chesterton who wrote about God's sense of humor in creation (hippos!) and the mirth of Jesus?  You are in good company.

I grew up in simpler times, when the church was both spiritual and social nurturer.  The Church was our life in many respects and it was actually fun to be a Catholic.  The Catholic jokes poked fun at us humans and may have been slightly irreverent to the clergy and sisters, but not to God.  The sacred was held sacred. 

I'm not as disturbed by the seriousness as much as by the nastiness and meanness that is so current in the church today.  One can hardly express an opinion and you are called names, your faith is questioned and you are labeled and put in a box.  (I have yet to figure out which box I belong in).  Granted, the church with its human element is always messy.  But, we seem to have forgotten the divine element and in our hubris want to take control of every single , little piece of it.  Christ did say he would always be with us.  Why can't we believe this, have faith in him and let go of some of our need to control?

I find consolation in the belief that Christ , in the past, the present and in the future is with us to nurture us with His Word and Eucharist.  And maybe, I'm just a nostalgic mastodon!
ed gleason
8 years 8 months ago
Michael; Even comedian/atheist Bill Maher would not laugh at 'He got nailed by the Boards'.
There is humor/wit and then there is blunt force; it is fortunate to know the difference.
8 years 8 months ago
Hey Ed -

I don't write 'em, I just tell 'em as I hear 'em.  But you raise an interesting point: where is the line that cannot be crossed by humorists?  I suggest that the line is continually moving as society becomes more secular, it becomes commonplace to criticize Catholics, and peoples' sense of humor degrades to the point where swearing is an art form.  See where comedy has gone with the liberalization of society: nothing is sacred.  See where the Church goes with liberalization.....

Yeah, I think Bill Maher would laugh at the Jesus joke. 

And, with respect to Janice's comment about respect for God, did she not hear the joke that questions that if God is capable of all things, could he make a rock so big that even He could not lift it?

8 years 8 months ago
I enjoyed the entire address but thought Father Jim was most '' spot on'' with his message in relaying the antidotes from the life of Pope John XXIII. Obviously when the top guy can live his life with joy and laugh at himself, it becomes contagious.

''No dear monsignor, they are not all watching her dress , they are all watching me to to see if I am watching her dress '' is a classic.....


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