Jennifer has written this
One person's prophet will definitely be another person's heretic. Jesus was just that, in his day. He outraged Caiaphas and Co. Challenging the power-brokers and the entrenched authorities to a new vision is the nature of prophetic ministry. And what I believe needs fixing may not always be what you believe needs fixing.
In the 1980s, Sister Evelyn Woodward, Sister of St Joseph of Lochinvar in Australia published Poets, Prophets and Pragmatists. She was addressing the challenges facing religious life at that time. I have just read it again, and her book could be edited, removing reference to religious life and replacing it with "church", and it would fit square with the current state of the RCC world-wide.
She identifies religious communities as being divided into three categories. I take the liberty to borrow her descriptors and apply them to our present RCC.
Who are the Poets, Prophets and Pragmatists she describes?
"Poets are individuals and groups who intuitively and deeply understand the nature and quality of human experience with delicate accuracy and empathy of perception. They arrive at this understandiing before the logicians, philosophers, theologians, psychologists and anthropologists apply the scalpel of their intellects to the facts. The poet sees, understands and raises to consciousness. The poet is a visionary.
Prophets are men and women who are gifted with the ability to take the vision of the poets and challenge others with its power, goading them to a new consciousness and to a life rooted in the new consciousness. They are the challengers of religious life. (Jen: replace "religious" with Church)
Pragmatists are those practical planners who can, without distortion, take the vision of the poets and the challenge of the prophets and in collaboration with them, put together ways of living. They can dismantle old structures and indicate where new ones are called for. They are the planners and evaluators, the troubleshooters and inventors in religious life. (Jen: replace "religious" with "church). (Woodward, E. Poets, prophets and pragmatists; Collins Dove, 1987; p.2)
I love this analysis - the Dreamers (Poets), the Architects (Prophets) and the Builders (Pragmatists). Who do we know who fits into this model? I this some overlap categories, but it offers a framework for how we might focus how we go about nourishing change in our struggling Church.
Who are our poets, prophets and pragmatists at the beginning of the 21st century? What can we do to support them and protect them from those who would tear them down?
If you have a suggestion please let us know in a comment below and say why you suggest them.