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Outlook cloudy

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Oct 02, 2003

The Jesuit Superior General P.-H. Kolvenbach recently delivered his State of the Society of Jesus address at a congregation of delegates held in Loyola, Spain. The text is posted on the U.S. Jesuit website. It strikes me as weird -- drifting in and out of focus, swinging back and forth between unconvinced optimism and self-loathing. For example, the paragraph below defeats me. See what you can make of it:

Reading your reports and taking into account the extraordinary apostolic activity throughout much of the world, it would be difficult to conclude that the Society is very ill; even sick unto death. But if we are to believe an Indian sage, that "a well man is a sick man who lacks self-knowledge," we should look more closely at the state of our health.

Well, is the order sick or is it well? Or is the concept of health simply an illusion of pre-modern consciousness? My first suspicion was that a negative or two had dropped out in the translation, but what we're assured is the original French isn't much more lucid:

A lire vos rapports, qui font état d'une activité apostolique débordante, un peu partout dans le monde, il serait difficile d'aboutir à la conclusion que la Compagnie est profondément malade, voire mourante. Mais à en croire un sage de l'Inde, « un homme en bonne santé est un malade qui s'ignore ». Cela nous incite à examiner d’un peu plus près notre état de santé.

I suppose there are those who reflexively bend the knee at the wisdom of the East, but I just hope the "sage d'Inde" doesn't practice thoracic surgery as his day job. For another perspective on Jesuit self-knowledge, go here.

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