Saturday, January 17, 2015

Smart Pope, Dumb Pope

The sunset is beautiful. 
It is winter, and so the earth’s distance from the sun differs from the summer; the angle it faces the sun on its axis differs also.  The air is denser with the lower temperatures, and the sun’s light is affected by the ice crystals in the sky.  The winter clouds vary slightly from the summer also; the dense black towering thunderheads don’t appear as menacing in the winter.  The sunset is a complex interface of matter and energy, light reflection and refraction:  it is a marvelous thing to consider.
The sunset is beautiful.
Standing by the lake shore or seaside, you can watch the sun slowly dip below the horizon, and see the gradual changing of color shade and intensity.  It is awesome.  It is holy.  It is like seeing God: it is a marvelous thing to consider.
Two people watching the same beautiful sunset, a brainy scientist and a holy man, see the same things, but think different thoughts.  Neither is wrong in his thinking or seeing; they are just focused on differing aspects of the same truth.
I think we see a similar thing going on with our recent popes.  JPII and Benedict were towering intellectuals.  They both often spoke with scientists, aware of and discussing the latest scientific discoveries and thought.  Their encyclicals were masterpieces of truth, logic, and proofs to all doubters.  Pope Francis, however, has a different intellectual level and background.  The example I gave of two people looking at the same sunset could be applied to the differing popes, but it is more than that.  It’s as if the scientist, the intellectual, is standing next to Pope Francis facing the sunset and voices his view of what he sees, but at the same time Pope Francis says: “Oh, look at the pretty butterfly.”
When Pope Francis talks about the small things, the simple things, the small people, he is describing them --- and us --- in simple terms.  Reading his words, sometimes I want to shout:  “It’s not that simple.  There are complex factors at work which you cannot ignore.”  But then I ponder his actions and his words some more, and I feel like I am arguing with Christ.
There is much I could write about Pope Francis and his generalities; what he is missing.  If I am honest, however, and can get past my own intellectual leanings, I must admit there were things JPII and Benedict also missed in their writings.  Are any of them wrong, or right?
I think they are all looking at the same beauty of God’s creation, and His Church.  They look from differing angles; they emphasize differing things.  Their words reach some intellectuals; their words reach some more base individuals.  They are conveying God’s truth in ways all can understand --- and perceive its beauty.
There is no smart pope; there is no dumb pope.  There are only God’s children, some of whom think they need to understand all of God’s ways, and some content to just feel His love --- which is beyond all understanding.

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