In the lanthorn search, like Diogenes of Sinope, one hopes for an ecclesiarchical order that is
- skeptical about worldly orders (like socialist structures, and just-as-liberal capitalist structures);
- faithful, simply, to the apostolic witness;
- deified; and
"American" applies to some apocalyptic, probably eschatological, patriarchal figure for this country's Church. And what I mean by "American" is that such a patriarch would need to understand profoundly the sense of these words:
Where the skyscrapers lift their foggy plumes
Of stranded smoke out of a stony mouth
You are that high stone and its arrogant fumes,
And you are ruined gardens in the South
And bleak New England farms, so winter-white
Even their roofs look lonely, and the deep
The middle grainland where the wind of night
Is like all blind earth sighing in her sleep.
A friend, an enemy, a sacred hag
With two tied oceans in her medicine-bag ...
So Wingate saw it, vision or truth,
Through the colored window of his own youth,
Building an image out of his mind
To live or die for, as Fate inclined.
(from John Brown's Body, by Stephen Vincent Benet)
As far as the third qualification is concerned, Dionysios (called "pseudo" by the cognoscenti) makes it clear that there is to be a correspondence between the three "stages" of Grace and the three clerical offices. The deacon is assumed to have reached the stage of purification. The priest is thought to have reached the stage of illumination. And the bishop is meant to have attained communion. Historical grief accrues when these stages are not met, and this fact alone is sufficient explanation for most of the conundrums of Christian history.
Dionysios expects apatheia of all church leadership. Not the "apathy" that is really insensitivity, which is produced by gluttony and lust. But the "apatheia" of freedom from all passion. And apatheia, one might expect, is not a given with a Ph.D.
And, in turn, such apatheia produces discernment -- the discernment that alone can provide the wisdom and sensibility for decision-making in the crazy sort of age this is. Without discernment, leadership is left with bankrupt devices like "the bottom line," or surveys, or census data, or consultations.
I think apatheia requires some fasting (a little litotes here). A lot of repentance. And a fidelity to dogma that would make me not have to worry about some council that is to take place in some alternate universe. It may be, failing the requisite fasting and metanoia, that there will be some mysterious concatenations of frustration preventing such a council. There may be some odd and always unsettling subtle sabotage of efforts to patch everything up into tidy organizational structures. Conferences, like most towers, will fall apart into the multiplicity of tongues.
It is not hard to imagine how such frustration can work itself out. There may be a disagreement over the arrangement of chairs at the unround table. There may be whispers at home. There may be calculations of income, and history books opened (after the income statements are read) from a thousand years, consulted for supportive data for the camouflage of the fiduciary motive, and long chronological grievances produced. There may be liberation and consciousness-raising movements to hold hands with.
The frustration is usually ascribed to the Devil. I think not.
There will be jurisdictional paradise only as a "filling" for a hunger and thirst for righteousness. There will be no satisfaction of any other hunger and thirst.
So until that day, let us keep our lanterns lit, eat plenty of onions, and roll tubs up and down the Craneum.