This week’s podcast is Let Your Face Wear a Smile, from the group Kairosingers’ album Of One Accord. This group of Texas Catholics from Port Arthur, Texas (the home of Janis Joplin) brings to mind many things about Texas Catholicism during the 1970’s, and the kinds of lessons we might learn today.
The album cover defines the Greek word kairos as "a time when conditions were right for the accomplishment of a crucial action: the opportune and decisive moment." It’s used frequently by many of the newer thinkers in Evangelical Christianity (like Leonard Sweet.) Catholicism in general in the 1970’s and Texas Catholicism in particular were facing a "kairos moment" in the wake of Vatican II. In Texas there were three influences that impacted the life the the church and Catholics:
- The influence of Cursillo, the Spanish retreat movement. The first Cursillo in the U.S. took place in Waco in 1959, and the first U.S. Cursillo in English took place in San Angelo in 1961. Cursillo is the ancestor of just about all of the retreat systems in place today such as New Cor, Search, Tres Dias, the Encounter, etc. It produced an introspective form of Christianity that challenged Catholic tendendies to regard their church life as a "business deal with God," as my first parish priest put it.
- The influence of the Evangelical world around it. Although Texas Catholicism was more substantial relative to the general population than in most other Southern states (Louisiana excepted,) the influence of Baptist and other like churches was strong on many Catholics. This comes out on the album in places, especially regarding the second coming, making it an interesting Catholic/Protestant fusion. It also resulted in incidents like this.
- The influence of the Charismatic Renewal, which is well documented on this site.
This "kairos moment" made being Catholic in Texas at the time an exciting proposition.
Today one out of ten Americans regard themselves as ex-Catholics. It’s easy to say that this is because of the church’s dogmatism, but the reality is that many left Roman Catholicism because it could not harness the energy of the "kairos moment" it faced after Vatican II. This is a reminder that it’s just as important to know how to harness the energy of spiritual success as it is to initiate it.
The rest of this album is found at The Ancient Star-Song.