The question is, what did I, then and still an agnostic (okay, an atheist), see in the ideas about reality espoused by a very devout Catholic?
Somehow, it had to do with the community he established, called L'Arche, of severely learning-disabled people and support workers who all lived together. As I said, "He was living with all the people whom the rest of the world wants to ignore in it's obsession with perfection, specialness, progress, and celebrity. I've always known those obsessions were
Now I think that my attraction to this guy doing these things was based on the fact that, somehow, despite the extreme hierarchy in the religious community he was a part of, he believed in the equality of all human beings. Real equality, not just the words. He didn't need to tell people with developmental disabilities that they were somehow "special", as so many people feel they have to. No. Because he really didn't believe anyone else was superior to them. He didn't believe anyone was superior to anyone else. I remember he did say this in his recorded talks, which I listened to very carefully. Maybe not in so many words, but that was what he was saying. Over and over.
And yes, it is the real, objective truth. No one is superior to anyone else. And no one is inferior. We are all individuals. Superiority is only a fantasy inside a person's social mind. For anyone to think they are a superior person, first they have to decide what aspect of life they are going to make that decision about. They have to think it up. Usually, I suppose, they will pick a trait they already feel superior in. If they have nice white skin, it will be whiteness of skin. Unless others think that's a negative trait. In that case, it might be the width of their mouth when they smile, or the speed of neuronal connections. Any of a vast number of things. Vanier, a very bright man, living with people who were at the very opposite end of that particular scale, could see every day that his superiority as an actual being was only a fantasy. In other words, he was living with reality, in the face of reality, constantly.
And there was me looking on, watching this strange conundrum. It was a conundrum because his talks were so heavily soaked in his Christian beliefs, which included the extreme hierarchy of God, Jesus, the Pope, Bishops, and so on. Down to tithe-paying laborers. No, down to the people Vanier was living with and saying were his equals! How did he pull that off? Well, it's right there, in the New Testament (which I've never read, so I'm only going on rumour here). Jesus himself espoused this idea that all people are equal. At least to some degree. He definitely wasn't just standing on the mountain talking down at everyone. That's a basic part of Christian belief, that we are all God's children, all sheep in the meadow. So Jesus himself built this whole conundrum into the heart of the religion. And Vanier was out there living it.
How much better can it get? And more deep and interesting?
I don't believe in God. Too bad, because I can see that life would feel much less lonely if I did. But I'm trying to make up for it by living more and more with people, not away from them as I always have. That helps.