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In Which I am a Wee Bit Snarky [Apr. 8th, 2005|10:55 am]
[Current Mood |contemplativecontemplative]

A parable of sorts:

Once upon a time, there was a president. His name was Carter. He was a good and kind man, and very intelligent. While he was president, some very important issues faced his country. This good and kind man looked into the future and worked hard to make certain that the important issues would be taken care of for the benefit of all the people for generations to come. He asked people to accept some hard realities about life: that the source of their riches and wealth would not last forever; that they had responsibility to the land on which they lived; that sustaining their wealth required sacrifice. Times were hard, and the country felt threatened, and the president's message did not make people happy. When it came time for reelection, the people rejected the old president in favor of a new president named Reagan, who smiled a lot and told them that all this talk of sacrifice was silly. He told them that they were the best in the world and made them feel warm and good inside.

But a funny thing happened a few decades later. The problems that the old president had foretold started coming true, and all of a sudden people looked back and said, "gosh, if only people had been smart enough to listen to President Carter, maybe we wouldn't be in this mess."

A parallel parable:

Once upon a time, there was a Pope. He became Pope at a time when the Catholic Church was out of touch with the world. In his time he helped overthrow oppressive regimes. He officially recognized other faiths, apologized for past church wrongs, and reached out to persons of color. He preached justice and care of the poor, and protested against injustice committed by governments that weren't used to hearing dissent from such a quarter. But he also stood strong for the fundamental tenets of the church: sex is only sacred within marriage, and marriage is fundamentally about procreation, and therefore marriage that is not suseptible to natural procreation is not acceptable. Children are gifts from God and attempting to thwart God's will is wrong. Divorce is not part of God's plan. In these areas of family and personal life, he would not be swayed. His message was clear: all persons are worthy of God's love, but sex is for heterosexual marriage. When he died, there were people who castigated him for this, who heard hatred in his words. They sneered at respect paid to him and discounted his other contributions, for the only issue that mattered to them was the personal agenda.

He was buried in the shadow of the growing Dominionist movement. And I cannot but wonder: in a decade or less, will his vilifiers look back and say, "Good old Pope John Paul II. His was a message of love and life. He didn't want to kill us."

[User Picture]From: melanie
2005-04-08 03:02 pm (UTC)
interesting, that you wrote that bit about the pope. i just commented to someone about half an hour ago about that, as they were raging about anti-contraception policies in the church.
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[User Picture]From: hel_ana
2005-04-08 03:14 pm (UTC)
He was buried in the shadow of the growing Dominionist movement.

Wow.. That essay was terrifying. I wonder if at the same time they're looking back at JPII, they'll be looking back at Margaret Atwood and wondering if she had a time machine.
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[User Picture]From: donkey_hokey
2005-04-08 03:17 pm (UTC)
The Dominionist movement: I read the article you linked to. That's as scary and misguided as some hardcore Islamic beliefs which follow the same general idea. I don't want anybody to tell me how to worship, and I certainly don't want to do that to anybody else.
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[User Picture]From: kid_lit_fan
2005-04-08 03:18 pm (UTC)
"Ideology of evil" are not words of love, I'm afraid. I cannot be tarred with the brush reserved for those who unabashedly hate the Pope and the Church. But I cannot love with complete abandon. That's part of a religion of hermaneutics.

"Be ye spited at me?"
"Spited I ain't, but so Christian as I might odderwise feel, I ain't neither."
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-04-08 03:24 pm (UTC)
Believe me, I do not endorse everything about him. I am excommunicated by the church because of my remarriage without benefit of annulment, and I cannot in honesty seek an annulment. It's the people who spurn him without regard who irk me.
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[User Picture]From: weirman
2005-04-08 03:24 pm (UTC)
I've been continually more impressed with Carter. I think it was a real shame that he wasn't made part of the entourage to pay the Pope last respects. I think it's a pity that even now people don't realize how good Carter really was and still is. There's a man who has never given up trying to make a difference for people.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-04-08 03:29 pm (UTC)
He was a truly good person. Not always an effective president, because he was too smart for his own good and seeing all sides of the issues paralyzed him. But you cannot fault his true concern and caring.

Did you know that when he was first involved with Habitat for Humanity, it was just as a volunteer? Swinging a hammer when someone recognized him? People literally had to talk him into being a spokesperson because he was so humble that he didn't want to put himself i the spotlight.
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[User Picture]From: jadziaesq
2005-04-08 03:28 pm (UTC)
Very interesting and good. Unfortunately, I think this what they are trying to do now in this country. I am always suspicious of people who try to puch their religious beliefs upon me. I hope there is enough of us to fight this type of domination.

As I like to say, there are people who are religious and there are people who have faith. Usually the ones that are religious are hypocrites.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-04-08 03:34 pm (UTC)
You're in the heart of it, there in Texas. If you want more info on the Dominionists, read the article I linked to in my other entry.
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[User Picture]From: hookncrook
2005-04-08 03:30 pm (UTC)
I've been wondering about this too. My mother(a nice catholic girl who spent years in Catholic schools) gets mad about him and called him a Conservative... but as I see it John Paul was probably the most progressive Pope they have had in a century. He actually acknowledged other faiths (something the Catholics never did saying how they were the only one true faith). He reached out to the world leaving St. Peters to travel everywhere--most places that Popes had never set foot in before...and he actually said the Catholics didn't do enought o prevent the Holocaust...

What more do people expect when he is in the confines of a very repressive faith? He's stood up and did progressive acts in a church that was entirely out-of-touch with modern society. There is only so far any Pope can go...maybe in 40 or 60 years the faith might say all those thinsg i long for them to say, but now--realistically-- he was as progressive as the Catholic faith was goign to get--and even then most of the other high ranking officials couldn't believe the steps he took!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-04-08 03:36 pm (UTC)
I probably understand where your mom is coming from better, because there was a time when the American Catholic church was really ramping up for change, there was the Year of the Woman, and a lot of us who were deeply involved in all that thought that much more change was coming.

Then things tightened way down. Which is to be expected. Change comes slow to Catholicism. But we were bitter.
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[User Picture]From: rakafkaven
2005-04-08 03:37 pm (UTC)
I'm generally a strong supporter of your view of the pope, but my wife (and her almost-complete Master's degree in public health) smacked me around with a bit of logic: it's one thing to hold firm to your faith, but quite another to do so by deliberately lying, especially when the lie has lethal consequences.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-04-08 03:45 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that one sucks. And his inaction over the child molestation issue. Like I said elsewhere, he wasn't perfect. But that does not discount everything he does.

There is a certain rough logic to his stand, however, since he preached celibacy, which is certainly more effective in stopping STDs off all sorts than a condom.

(He is not the only one using the "condoms don't stop AIDs" logic. I've heard other Christians go the same route.)
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[User Picture]From: badlydrawnjeff
2005-04-08 04:31 pm (UTC)
Part of me wonders if people will do this same essay about some of Bush's ideas in 20 years.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-04-08 04:50 pm (UTC)
I am frightened by the vision of a world that would require that.
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[User Picture]From: dakiwiboid
2005-04-08 05:45 pm (UTC)

I don't know about his other detractors

but the things I've been bitching about in JPII's life don't appear at all in your little fable.

I'm 51 and a former Catholic. I saw the Church go from old-style Catholicism to post-Vatican II, and I saw the heady days of John XXIII. I have also seen JPII and his chosen hit men do their best to undo the reforms that Vatican II brought to the church.

On the day the pope died, I heard author John Cornwell describe a number of post-Vatican II innovations as "excesses", and I boiled with anger. For instance, he sneeringly listed dancing in church, guitar masses, and priests celebrating masses on coffee tables. Well, damn his hide, I was there, and those "irreverent excesses" were anything but irreverent. I saw a young nun dance before the altar as David danced before the Lord. I saw churches packed with young people and their parents while nasty old-guard priests growled and bitched from the vestibule. (Those same churches are near-empty now, and parishes are being closed. My generation was driven away, not just by the lack of guitar masses, but because the reforms we loved, the outspoken priests and bishops we valued, and our very contributions as lay people were tossed in the trash as unworthy and "excessive". "Why do we need a few hippies? We have the conservative majority!" Yeah, right!) The coffee table masses were celebrated in the homes of shut-ins. I also saw altar girls assisting at masses, confident in their divine femininity, and joyous to be serving God. All this has been swept away. The vile old guard has won.

Am I carping about a personal agenda too, zoethe? I don't think so. I see the big picture of John Paul II, not a bowdlerized press release, and it wasn't as pretty as you make out. Not from the inside. Sure, the Dominionists are worse, but that doesn't excuse canonizing him.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-04-08 06:34 pm (UTC)

Re: I don't know about his other detractors

I was there, too - I'm 47. I had the good luck of living in Fairbanks, Alaska, for a while where we kept doing our own thing, so I feel your pain. I feel left out of the church that I loved, that it evaporated.

I am not saying that there is nothing to complain about. Just as I would never dream of saying that Carter was a great president. But the vitriol that I have seen spilled forth writing him off as a waste is not a fair assessment, either.
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[User Picture]From: old_hedwig
2005-04-08 06:33 pm (UTC)
My parish has 2 guitar masses every weekend, and female altar servers, and lay people who feel valued and loved.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-04-08 06:35 pm (UTC)
I miss having a parish like that.
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[User Picture]From: siljannaferret
2005-04-08 07:32 pm (UTC)
I don't think any one should tell any one else how to believe ever. How ever many religions do. I will respect any who lives their believes.
You should try to catch the special on the rise and history of the catholic church on the history channel. I found it very eye opening.
Every one has good points and bad points, that means that at some point we are all "out of touch" with others.
He was a good pope, and I'm not catholic.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-04-08 08:01 pm (UTC)
Except the whole point of being pope is to lead a group of believers. Christianity has always been about a leader telling a congregation what to believe. (Part of my problem with it - I'm not disagreeing with your belief, just pointing out the basic foundation of Cahtolicism!)
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[User Picture]From: spydielives
2005-04-08 07:50 pm (UTC)
I was raised RC. All I saw, in the church that I was brought up in, and by my parents (my mom had me out of wedlock, and my father was a divorced and remarried man who accepted Communion every week because no one knew his "history") was fake and "do as we say, not as we do."

I remember JPI and JPII, watching the events unfold on TV, through news and even some live coverage.

At 13 I went through the Confirmation ceremony to become and adult, and then began my search for a religion/philosophy that actually made sense - where I could do my own talking to G-d, where I didn't need someone to talk for me. Nearly 10 years of experimenting, exploration before I found something that fit me.

I still listened to JPII - some things he said were good and some were not. My mother, still practicing, perhaps even more devoutly now than she was when I was growing up, always repeated his words as though they were gospel themselves. One of her more annoying faults - much like her treatment of Bush II, now that I think about it.

I suppose this is all irrelevant to your original post. I remember Carter too, and his loss to Reagan, and how angry I was at myself for not being able to vote (I thought). It was my first chance to vote, I was away at school and didn't know anything about absentee ballots.

Enough rambling...

History is always written by the winners, and rewritten by their conquerers.
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[User Picture]From: siljannaferret
2005-04-08 08:56 pm (UTC)
I don't believe in main stream christiany anyway.
Most believers are told what to do and believe no matter what religion it is. People are just to lazy sometimes to find things out for themselfs and go along with the crowd(sheep people)

I'm just comparing JPII to other popes in history. He turns out to be not so bad even if he doesn't condone womens rights. I can think of worse popes off hand, Alexander Borgia comes to mind.

No human in infallible no matter what edicts they have saying the pope is infallible in matter of faith.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-04-08 10:13 pm (UTC)
I am perplexed by the apparent assumption that my saying he had good points = my saying he was perfect....
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-04-09 02:40 am (UTC)
That is beyond sad.
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[User Picture]From: siljannaferret
2005-04-12 03:14 pm (UTC)
I wasn't taking it that way. I agree with you he was ok.
I find it funny that popes are infallicle in matter of faith. but that what the cathlocs say. Not that i believe that or thats what you said. was just shareing thought is all
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