Sunday, April 20, 2008

An Inconvenient Pope

I have this working hypothesis that the unforgivable sins for boomers on the left are sexual.

To be judgmental about the sexual activities of others is unpardonable. This is what makes the Pope such a figure of scorn. The Vatican hangs on to this antiquated notion that we ought not simply do whatever feels good. It can oppose the war in Iraq, advocate a preferential option for the poor and oppose the death penalty, but it will still be seen as a force for reaction.

So the frequently querulous Mike Plaisted can't understand why the media would think it important that the Pope is in the US for the first time in 13 years. They are, he says, sucking up to 71 million Catholics (and millions more who are not Roman Catholic but regard the Bishop of Rome as a unique figure in Christianity). Why cover something that most of the country is intensely interested in ? Better to focus on the obsessions of a handful of secular leftists.

Benedict might do some challenging things like pray for Muslims at Ground Zero, but he also thinks that sex should be limited to marriage so let's ignore him. He can apologize for the church's blindness to clerical abuse, but he won't accept that homosexuality is an appropriate expression of God's gift of sexuality so he is dead to us.

Plaisted is so upset by the fact that the Pope won't countenance abortion that he has actually converted "the putrid Bill Kristol" to Catholicism. Kristol is Jewish, but facts shouldn't sully our stereotypes. The bad guys have to be everything that we think they are.

Mike trots out the old cliche that if men got pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament. For left liberals, abortion is a sacrament and the Pope is a heretic.

Ultimately, the larger problem may be that the Pope represents an alternative source of authority - something outside secular progressivism. I agree that's unsettling. Not all of us want to look.


Dad29 said...

Well, Rick, there are a lot of Catholics who "don't want to look," either.

And your analysis, I think, is spot-on--it's the sex-thing, which encompasses abortion (not to mention all sorts of artificial/engineered baby-making, etc.)

But the Pope is equally serious about truth v. relativism--which is curiously similar to the issues the Federalists raise over judicial interpretation.


Mike Plaisted said...

Querulous = complaining. Damn, another one I had to look up. I'd complain about it but - oh, never mind.

So, those of us who think the pope is silly are unduly focused on the sexual stuff, eh? Well, that stuff does highlight the absurdly paternalistic, backward nature of the "modern" church. And the ritual denying of nature by not allowing even basic birth control does have significant blowback, such as the increased level of death and disease, not to mention avoidable pregnacies in significant parts of the developing world.

"Most of the country...intensely interested" in the pope tour? Oh, I think that's overstating it a bit, don't you, Rick? I think the ratings were somewhere south of the Reagan funeral week, and what they got was mostly because the industry hasn't quite recovered from the writer's strike yet.

I don't mind coverage, but I do mind fawning sucking-up, which was the only thing going on. All of the serious issues confronting the church except for the sex scandal was ignored by the media, who were facinated that the guy smiled a lot. Talk about easy to please.

The point about abortion being a sacrament means that if unwanted pregancy affected men, the male-controlled church would find a way to "deal" with this. Despite your sanctimonious and deliberately ignorant presumption, the left doesn't consider abortion a sacrament. but there is a concensus that choice is (or should continue to be) a protected right. Abortion is always a serious matter that no one takes likely -- least of all the women who make that choice, or not. The lack of respect for them and the choices they make is exactly what is wrong with the church on that issue. What's worse -- women making choices about what goes on inside their own bodies or cloistered, (sometimes) celebate clergy insisting they keep their womb available for incubation against their will? Only those willing to bend over backward would go with the hypocritical, damaged clergy on that one. Be my guest.

The pope as an alternative source of authority? Authority on what, exactly? Authority figures these days usually don't hide behind Vatican walls and medival vestments. If the pope were some kind of socialist figure running a government somewhere with the same trappings of imagined power and influence, you'd be laughing your head off at the outrageous pretense. Authority presumes relevance and stature, of which the pope has none outside of his aging, dwindling congregation.

Oh, and that Bill Kristol thing -- yeah, my bad. I meant Bob Novak. Kristol is still putrid, though.

Brad V said...

"What's worse -- women making choices about what goes on inside their own bodies or cloistered, (sometimes) celebate clergy insisting they keep their womb available for incubation against their will?"

You place the woman's crucial right to choice at the wrong point in the timeline.

Rape aside, one could argue the appropriate locus for choice is whether to engage in sexual activity that could lead to pregnancy, not whether to allow something post-conception to go to term. It's the decision whether or not to engage in conduct that has the potential to create another life/liberty interest.

Mike Plaisted said...

OK, Brad V votes for women-who-sin consigned to women-as-incubator. Serves them right. Next!

Anonymous said...

Has the courageous Plaisted criticized Muslim leaders in the same way he does the Pope? In Plaisted's world view, Islam is an even more "conservative" religion than Catholicism (e.g., anti-women's rights, intolerant, etc.). However, he's likely afraid to criticize practitioners of that religion with as much passion, if at all, because he's (reasonably) concerned about his personal safety.

grumps said...

"millions more who are not Roman Catholic but regard the Bishop of Rome as a unique figure in Christianity"

When I was growing up I was taught exactly that. The Pope was the Anti-Christ in Rome leading Christians down a Mary-worshipping, statue-venerating road to eternal damnation. We were told to pray for the conversion of Catholics to a faith in Jesus that would put them on a path to redemption.

It all seems a little silly now.

Mike Plaisted said...

Yeah, Anony, I'm really afraid. I haven't had a reason to discuss the paternalistic elements of the Muslim faith because there are not a bunch of nut-right bloggers out here talking about how inspiring they are and how they are due some kind of unearned "alternative authority" recognition. I think all religions are nutty to some degree, especially on the orthodox end of the spectrum. All of them protect their male-centered existance by subjegation of women to some degree, which I think is a sign of massive male insecurity or, more likely, overcompensation for other, er, shortcomings.

Anonymous said...

"Haven't had a reason," Plaisted?! Death threats based on cartoons, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and, oh yeah, terrorism -- none of that has given you a reason? Spare me. You just know that the Pope won't issue a fatwa on your head.

Anonymous said...

Come on, you know the hypocrisy goes deeper than that. Mike and others who can find the time to condemn all those goofy religions never come out and include Islam. They fight back.

Cartoons and terrorism hell, you have not chimed in against the war in Iraq Mike? What...that doesn't have anything to do with religion? The fanatic arm of the religion of Islam hates you and wants to kill you for your (liberal)wantonness and the rest of Islam at least disapproves and condemns. Christianity is evolving, slowly, for better or for worse and it is confronting sexuality and mores, Islam isn't. Yet you have no beef with them... huh.