Do unto others.
For more information, contact:
Gary Schouborg, PhD
Schouborg, Gary (2013).
In Donald J. Foran (Ed.), Transitions
in the Lives of Jesuits and Former Jesuits (pp. 183-187).
West Coast Companeros, Inc.
Leaving the Jesuits in spring 1970 felt inevitable and natural, like a snake shedding its outgrown skin. There was no drama, no spiritual turmoil, no conflicted feelings. There was only a peaceful sense of release from a tomb whose subtly stifling presence I had not previously noticed.
This sense of continuity flowed from years of philosophical reflection, which had moved me to become a Jesuit after graduating from Loyola University of Los Angeles in 1958. Thanks to Jesuit education and Vatican II, I gradually shed an other-worldy orientation toward the next life for a this-worldly emphasis on this one. Eventually, that process led me to realize, like Moliere’s bourgeois gentleman who realized that he had been speaking prose all his life, that secular humanism was my natural language.
My move to the empirical — taking this life as more than boot camp for the next one — inevitably included sex. Still at an emotional remove from something that personally involving, I tip-toed into it by questioning how I could counsel human beings when I was not emotionally involved with the female half of them. Inevitably, my perspective became more concrete when I taught philosophy at the all-male Loyola University, 1964-1966. In socially interacting with students and their girl-friends, I was chagrined to find that, although I had developed a kind of intellectual sophistication, I was as emotionally underdeveloped as I had been in 1958 when I “left the world” for the Jesuit Novitiate in Los Gatos, California.
I joined the Jesuits primarily for two reasons: to bring to the world the good news of natural law theory — that God’s laws are not tests to qualify for heaven, but a kind of instruction manual for humans to flourish; and to explore inner space, as I have always thought of the spiritual path. Secondarily, I found two benefits to balance the costs of celibacy: to simplify my moral life by paying off seemingly endless smaller moral debts with one big sacrifice; and to deal with my grotesque insecurity in the battle of the sexes by surrendering.
My Jesuit years helped me to begin standing on my own two feet intellectually and spiritually. But that very development also made it painfuly clear that I was nowhere near able to do so emotionally. So when I “returned to the world,” I was eager to explore. However, since wisdom requires emotional development, I was still naïve not only about women but people generally. It took me years to reduce dealing with others through generalizations in favor of relating to them in their uniqueness. Of course, that is a lesson that the best of us will still be learning till our dying breath; but I had little idea then how long a road lay before me.
At the start, I assumed that my experience was like everyone else’s, so that those who remained Jesuits lacked either the intellectual capacity or strength of heart to think through their lives thoroughly. Only several years later had I a sufficiently nuanced understanding of my own journey to see how at least some who remained Jesuits might have done so from strengths that I did not have.
To get to that point, I had to lay out my heart to be broken in one romantic encounter after another. A longer reflection www.garynini.com/em-transcshamedself.htmprovides a theoretical framework and explanation for why I was such a slow learner. I was repeatedly disappointed because a deep and abiding shame left me misunderstanding the real causes of my rejections. There were times when I thought that I might have bitten off more life-seeking than I could chew, that perhaps I should not have jumped into relationships so nakedly without some sort of emotional parachute. But at such times, I was gratified and strengthened by a force within me that exultantly shouted out at Life: “Give me your best shot. I can take anything you can throw at me.” In every such moment I felt ever more cleansed of my shame, ever more a man, ever more capable of regarding others with that respect from which emerges true affection. Only through that process was I readied to meet Nini through craigslist.com on June 27, 2007, have her move in with me on July 24, and marry her that Christmas Eve.