Sunday, April 03, 2005

The world seems to have stood still while the Pope was dying -- there was nothing else on the news except the death watch. I tried to find out what else might be going on in the world but the media has decided this is the only newsworthy event. I avoided the news. I didn't want the media to construct how I felt about the Pope. Still it bothered me a bit that I wasn't feeling some of the sadness and connectedness that a biliion people on the planet supposedly shared. It made me wonder if my lack of emotions betray something about me and how I teach and tell my students that it is possible to connect to... everything.

So I listened to the news. I understood that this Pope is the first non-Italian pope; he inspired the Solidarity Movement in Poland that led Lech Walesa to power; he spoke many languages; he stood firm on doctrine but was progressive on social issues. He was against the war in Iraq. He is the first Pope to ask forgiveness for the Holocaust, the first to enter a mosque, the first to pray at the wailing wall. I am touched. Now I can actually feel something.

But still I am skeptical of the media. The White House flag at half-mast? Bush - who didn't listen to the Pope's position on the war -- now pays respect? And then on C-Span, another author is talking about his new book, God and Reagan...further feeding my skepticism on how religion and politics have become cozy bedfellows in these times.

I was telling the spouse that everyday holy people die, holy species die...so why the drama over Schiavo and now the Pope? What does it say about us? What does it say about me? And the narrative says that the Pope and Schiavo are both now in a better place. If this place is better then why do we pray for miracles that might prolong life on earth?

When I was an evangelical, I used to know all the answers to these questions. But I'm just not happy anymore with certainty.

I really think that in the U.S. it's part of the larger Republican campaign to corner the market on moral (Christian-style) righteousness, whether its protestant or catholic. They realize that the Democrats for the most part have lost out by not attempting to form voting coalitions among other Christians. Republicans know the value of this kind of high-visibility positioning of our glorious leader in the Vatican, mourning the loss of a "man of God."
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