What of This Pope?
Basic classic photo of a painting.
I love the Dali Lama.
I also love Buddha and Tewa the Hopi Sun God. (you can spell it Tawa) And Mother Earth. Okay I admit it; I love puppy dogs and clear mountain mornings and ocean sunsets too. I am not Catholic but I would love to just wrap my arms around that little Pope fella and give him hugs and invite him home for some Pho'. My wife would be all giddy with excitement and I am sure some lame fool would take a selfie with him. Does anyone have a problem with that?
Some five days ago we were asked to write a piece on the Pope. So I made sure I did not watch any TV about him or listen to him directly on the radio or look up what he was saying on the internet. Before you jump to any empirical judgments let me explain what we did. We asked a whole bunch of people what they thought and felt about the Pope's visit to America. Perhaps you find that a strange way to report on the Pope. So be it. But in years of study of the ecclesiastic, miracles, faith and religion we have found that second hand accounts and impact on people is a far better thermometer or barometer of spiritual "things". It is kind of like this; spiritual cannot be studied under a microscope it must be felt. Logical stuff just does not lay a realistic foundation for the spiritualistic areas.
The point about loving spiritual leaders and gods of all sorts that we went into above was to illustrate that a person bound in one faith, in my case Jesus, can still love and honor and learn from spiritual leaders and gods from another. Feelings and the spiritual are not linear or logical. Really try as they might religions cannot build walls that prevent us from feeling all warm and fuzzy about something outside the program.
Sorry to anyone who has a religious bone to pick with Il Pappa but the overwhelming verdict is in. Us 'mericans love the Pope. He makes us feel good. He gets us talking about God. He gets us talking about all kinds of love. Shucks being the devious dog that I am, I caught on and said a bunch of really great things about him to my wife and she got all amorous with me. This guy makes us be better people to our brothers and sisters. This is not my opinion this is what I observed. From barber to cop, from teacher to boss, from children to grandparents and from gangster to parishioner the Pope affected us positively.
Now about some issues.
Strange song to put in this article? Perhaps, but perhaps a word of caution is appropriate.
If we can find beauty in a flower, then why not in the ultimate flower?
The Pope parades around like a king. Sorry if you find that offensive. Usually when this fact is mentioned it is met with a somewhat visceral response. It brings out either an immediate defense or it brings out some distasteful running down of the office of Pope. That is alright as it reminds us that feelings about the Pope are just that -- feelings. We as a race seem enamored of pomp and circumstance. But we must recognize that just like most people are a little bit nervous and shy about receiving awards, exalting a fellow member of the human race makes us a uncomfortable. No judgment here, just reporting what is observed.
Junípero Serra y Ferrer, O.F.M.
This was a man who lived from November 24, 1713 – August 28, 1784. He founded missions in the Baja California/California area. He is credited with performing miracles. He was Roman Catholic Spanish. Though not Catholic this author attends one of those missions very regularly. Here is what we are not permitted to say in this day and age: "He brought civilization to an Indian people that were living close to a stone age existence". We are supposed to say "he brought ruin and destruction, pestilence and slaughter to the Native indigenous people".
Well the Pope elevated Junipero above other men while he was here and that makes some folks angry. Here is a short read into the actions of some in response to Sainthood: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/09/28/junipero-serra-statue-defaced-days-after-pope-francis-canonized-missionary/
Personally this author does not go in for being pissed off about what groups did what 300 years ago. Maybe that is insensitive but I mention it here because most people do not equate the Pope and the modern Catholic church with genocide, crusades and inquisitions. So this really did not cast a shadow over the Pope.
Abortion and Death Penalty and such matters.
From what was gleaned from others it appears that the Pope's message of all life requiring dignity was not lost in an uproar of partisan moral issues. For some strange reason it seems like many people kind of came around to understand the falseness of concepts regarding the notions of life beginning and ending based upon political constructs. Somehow the Pope seems to have got folks to consider that classifying people does nothing to alleviate our need to decide right and wrong with regard to taking life.
Right here is where our chief pastor failed.
Does the cross sideways make you uncomfortable?
Sometimes we forget that our need to live and cause a good and moral life is often a battle.
He had us in the palm of his hand.
Feel good and happy smiles are just great. Motivating and inspiring people to do good works is also just great. But the pastor's mission is not always so great. There is a little thing that is required for any spiritual journey and the pastor must be the impetus to get that done. That little thing is called growth. If you recall your childhood chances are good that you remember what we call growing pains.
Revival of faith is wonderful. And that is what the Pope did for millions and millions of us Americans. We liked it and it made us feel better to "get back" to thinking about right and wrong and God. Or just right and wrong, or just about God. Certainly atheists were not left out. But that is where it stopped. He pulled a Joel Osteen on us. Great stuff but short of the mark. In speaking with folks we did not hear one comment to the effect that would indicate a re-examination or further examination of truths held dear. There was conspicuously lacking a call to question our clergy.
Peaceful easy feeling
So in order to finish this article we went and watched quite a bit of what the Pope had to say. This modern age is wonderful where with a little effort you can "save" and retrieve hours of footage with a few presses of buttons ahead of time. Amazing.
But the bad news is that what we gleamed from talking to people was in fact accurate as to the Pope. There are basically 3 kinds of leaders: Ones that lead the marching band that is already in formation with a predetermined path and outcome, preaching to the choir as it were. Ones that plan and plot from on high and direct and compose the actions of others. And ones that take the charge to the battlefield and lead in front. For pastors the calling is simple. You must be all three kinds of leaders.
The great Pontiff gives us love and hope and direction. And that is really really good. We are blessed to have this revival in our lives.
But in all I have talked to and in me there is no "I am going to...." He even made a "call to action" but it lacked the directness required. For a leader it is not enough. A follower may do his job when he provides some food for a starving man. But the leader must inspire many to provide the food to starving people, not just think about it.
Nothing would make me happier than for someone to contradict me in this assessment. Please leave your comment and better yet share with us what action you have taken as a result of the visit of the Pope. And what would be even better would be if you went ahead and did something today -- just to prove me wrong.
Worth listening to, if you have the time.
- Log In - The New York Times
A philosophical lecture or a sermon?