Have I been sincere when I took vows with the jesuits?

The question in my title will not, I hope, be without any spicy taste for those who are sensitive to double meaning expressions. Between 2009 and 2012, I have lived three years in the jesuit province of France, just before the French speaking provinces of Western Europe have been unified. I don’t hide any part of these years of my life and, although I am not going to explain the targets I had at that time, or why I have been brought to spend three years of my life in a Catholic religious order, I have no intention nor reason to hide the spirit in which I was when those events happened.

It seems clear to me that people who met me after this episode, can wonder about the obviously unmatching beliefs that I openly advertise today with the appearance that event can depict. It has been the same issue, I think, for people who knew me before the episode, when the event happened. And the question most of my friends and relatives have the right to ask now is the one highlighted by the title of this note. How, if I have always – and not only now – advertised liberal ways and scepticism, could I have been sincere during those three years spent in the Society of Jesus? The answer to this question can only be ambiguous.

In order to understand my approach, one needs to know that one of my saddest regrets in my student’s life, is that I didn’t follow up the drama play activity as amateur that I had started when I was younger. However, the appeal to the scene stayed within my inner self, like soared and integrated into my social and professional life. Thoughts I had myself on drama art stayed inside like the main ideal that the real actor doesn’t play but gets into the rôle that he is serving to the point where he becomes himself, during two or three hours, the character he has been asked to dress up like. This is a mystical experience. This is indeed, a Bacchic shift for sure. And here we are at the heart of my argument. As a matter of fact, the good actor is the one who is not acting, who is not playing as an actor. He is the one who joins the 無爲 (wu-wei), the inaction, the non-acting action. He is not playing the character; he becomes the character.

This is then in a completely dramatic perspective, in the mystical meaning, that I entered this religious order, but also, through different degrees during the years before that moment, in the Church’s society. This was for me a way to know better the enemy which is behind us. And in order to understand wolves, you need to live among wolves, hurl with them, and even think like them, or better said, to get into their mind. It is clear that some elements are similar between Christian and Bacchic feelings. It was then easier to start with these elements that could bring us together, and then enlarge the field to Christian elements that were more exotic, to better understand the structure’s logic of the target. But with this understanding, a form of compassion or respect came, that I felt and I still feel today, not really for the whole Church, but for this intelligent and deep part in which its finest representatives take part. Lots of jesuits are among them. And it seems to me more pleasant to argue with some of them than with most people who define themselves as agnostic or pagan philosophers.

Have I been sincere when I took vows with the jesuits? Yes and no. Yes, as long as Jesus Christ can be considered as an avatar or a cultural translation of Dionysus. No, as soon as the gospel loses its madness and becomes a Church. In both cases, those three years spent among the jesuits were an opportunity – among other ones – to be an actor completely bound to the service of the Master of Tragedy himself, and experience the metamorphosis of the Trickster God.

J.-S. Desnanot

Hereunder, a picture taken on the day of my vows (I’m the first one on the right)

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