Monday, June 17, 2013

Catching Up

I just finished watching the first season of Downton Abbey. I had seen previous episodes, but not every one of them. I'm glad I watched it in its entirety because I feel sympathy for many of the characters. I kept thinking of what would happen in their lives when I finished each episode.

I looked at it from an angle I was not expecting because I contrasted it to my experience in Amman. I admire the English sense of orderliness and protocols. In Amman, there are not many established rules for conduct yet.

The British aristocracy of Downton Abbey sets clear boundaries on what is acceptable and these positions are regularly promulgated and enforced. The Crawleys are a leisure class, but there responsibility for their workers is beyond reproach. As I survey the Ammani, many do not know what to do with their leisure time. Reading books, getting exercise, going to museums, and enjoying a cup of tea is not yet a concept for the working people of the city. Just as the wait staff of Downton Abbey take their leisure smoking cigarettes, the Ammani do the same. It makes me wonder about the correlation of our choices for leisure time and our ability to rise to new levels in society. Certainly education is key and education leads to leisure activities.

While the lives of the Crawleys are public and their family chaos is known to the staff, the staff's chaos is kept invisible, despite the prodding of a concerned employer. The worst thing in the world is to be invisible. It is a patriarchal hierarchical system where the Lord is really the Lord of their lives - providing for their welfare, but just as it maintains decorum, it creates a dysfunctional system of dealing with problems.

The conflict within the staff have a life of their own. An orderly resolution to conflicts makes life easier, but these conflicts are so potent that no one wants to touch them. They are deeply ingrained and cannot be fixed easily. While the Lords and Ladies have principles and values to which they aspire, many of the staff deal with personality conflicts and do not have the same values. The middle management find themselves in dilemmas because they understand both worlds and try to bridge the gaps, but they don't know to which world they belong.

I feel like I'm trying to call people to a better standard of principles, but first they need to be seen and heard and known. I want to bring about a more orderly way of proceeding for the parish where the pastor isn't seen merely as the one who will provide for the immediate wants and desires of the parishioners who don't always understand the implications of their decisions. I'm not a priest of the patriarchal system. I do have a vision for what church can be like, but first the people must re-imagine or at least imagine that their church system can be a more effective mediator of God's love. It takes a delicate effort to balance the needs of various groups who have different worldviews. 

The noble visions of the Crawleys inspire me forward and they know of their great responsibility to those who operate in a different system. Onward and upwards we go!



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