Searching around for a little televised, before-bed soporific, I found myself faced with "Kill Bill," which I've seen often enough to know some of the dialogue, "Swordfish," whose intricacies had been pretty much worn out by repetition, several channels of laugh-track 'comedy,' and several other channels peopled by sportscasters whose speculations were better suited to bar room banter. Finally, faut de mieux, I stopped at a Christian channel telling the tale of the Franciscans in Mexico. It had history and was light on overt proselytizing.
There were interesting little nuggets ... a nun in Europe who claimed to 'bilocate' as a means of educating the Indians in Mexico; the impact of the Jesuits' being outlawed; the friction between politics and religion -- each seeking a more powerful position. And, as a seeming after-thought, there were the Mexican people themselves -- a group described as simple and musical and agricultural and warm.
And as I thought about it, I realized that I could not think of a single spiritual persuasion that did not tell its tale according to its high-profile leaders. I suppose that's what constitutes what passes for history -- the bright and dark lights, the efforts that succeeded and those that were thwarted ... and all the time, the followers who brought critical mass to the effort were somehow relegated to the shadows.
Of course it would require an enormous effort to plumb the depths of why individuals should sign on and press the cause, whatever it was. Messy, amorphous, contradictory, ill-advised, vibrant, biased. Who could possibly collect all of the information from all of the people who were, as in Mexico, simple and musical and agricultural and warm? Biff-bam-boom stuff is easier to get a handle on. Biff-bam-boom religion and politics and personalities... sort of a Fox-channel appreciation over-laid with furrowed and sincere brows.
I'm not faulting it. I just don't much care for its narrowness. Easy answers are just too often easy. And the interesting part always lies in the mess, the contradictions, the longings, the bliss, the horror ... of individuals who have espoused a particular way or belief or salvation. What would the biff-bam-boom crowd be without that swirling, unpredictable, devoted, and dumber-than-a-box-of-rocks support? Invariably, the biff-bam-boomers of history claim to have nothing but the best interests of the musical masses at heart. And equally invariably, they slip into forgetfulness and posture.
I would have liked to know what any particular warm, agricultural, simple and musical participant thought ... one or two or twenty of those who made such wonderful beliefs and temples spring to life. What did they think and why did they think it; what did they love and why did they love it?
I know, I know ... it's too much to ask. The biff-bam-boomers stand at the head of the parade. But I asked anyway -- who would the biff-bam-boomers be if there were no parade in their wake? And how can anyone presume to know much if their cannot plumb the sometimes confusing cornerstone of this parade?
Leadership is nice for a while -- someone or something to point the way. But in the end, based on experience, does it make much sense?
Isn't the music enough?