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Darrel Manson

Habemus Papam! Pope Francis of Argentina (Was Benedict to resign)

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But to read Dreher's post is to marvel at the worst of Catholicism: A guy who just couldn't "walk the walk" unless the Pope was clearing the way and giving him public pointers and signposts.

This seems to me very unfair. All faith walks are carried out in communities, which *all* emphasize and de-emphasize aspects of Scriptural teaching depending on their convictions, and we all, Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox alike, depend on those around us to help us along our walk. Even John Calvin went on and on about the significance of the Church as community. Dreher is noting that, while wandering through a religious community that seemed lost or unable to assist him in his journey, the Pope's comments seemed a beacon of light.

As a non-Catholic, this does not seem to me to be at all absurd or lamentable.

 

OK, Rod. Enjoy the ups and downs of a life committed to following an appointed man whose utterances can wreck your belief system.

As you noted, Dreher is Orthodox, not Catholic. He isn't committed to following the Pope. Edited by Ryan H.

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Ryan H. wrote:

: Dreher is noting that, while wandering through a religious community that seemed lost or unable to assist him in his journey, the Pope's comments seemed a beacon of light.

Yes, exactly. Even Protestants have community, hence my concerns stated earlier about the hipsterization of the evangelical church. It's never *just* a person and his Bible. Your community shapes you, and thus it shapes the way you read your Bible.

: Dreher is Orthodox, not Catholic. He isn't committed to following the Pope.

Exactly; when I see all the debates around the various popes' statements, a part of me is relieved that no single person in Orthodoxy is given that kind of clout. However, Dreher does have lots of Catholic friends, so it's not hard to see why this stuff would matter to him.

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As one of the few, lonely Protestants on Arts and Faith, I tire of the slavish talk about what the Pope said -- both here, among his many followers on the board, and in the mainstream media, which is fixated on the Catholic church in ways that aren't entirely illegitimate (there are a lot of Catholics in the world, so the Pope's comings/goings/sayings are news) but which often are wrongheaded in that they fail to understand faith at all.

I don't agree with this, but as a fellow non-Catholic I do emphasize. I belong to no party or particular camp, but I have a vested interest in all things pertaining to Christianity and so it matters to me what the CEO of the world's second largest religion has to say. And Pope Francis has behaved and spoken in a manner that I find absolutely refreshing and consistent with the ministry of Jesus. In this context, I think his words may have a profound effect on Protestants, particularly Evangelicals, who find the ruling conservative powerbase of their movement in a similar dillemna. Imagine Billy Graham or Chuck Swindoll or some other supremely respected conservative Evangelical making public statements such as 

 

During the return flight from Rio de Janeiro, I said that if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge... Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person.

 

 the impact would be revolutionary. 

 

No matter how conservative bloggers try and spin it, Pope Francis has expressed himself in a manner quite opposite to themselves. I can almost hear the political gnashing of teeth when I read statements like:

In his way, he is actually fighting the stereotypes and narratives that the secular media wants to impose on the Church.

 

 

Ha! That's it! Except, the Pope did not say or imply such a thing. As I read and re-read the full interview, I read him consistently saying "too often The Church has____"  This general approach frames a large portion of his comments. 

Edited by Greg P

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The Pope has no bearing on my life or spiritual growth. None. I think Catholics and Orthodox folks have a hard time with such blunt sayings, but I'm a Protestant.

No problem yet... 

*keeps reading*

 

That said, to read Rod Dreher's post is to marvel at just how pathetic the lives of so many Catholics are. ... to read Dreher's post is to marvel at the worst of Catholicism: A guy who just couldn't "walk the walk" unless the Pope was clearing the way and giving him public pointers and signposts.

tumblr_mgyfysdQE61s410g9o1_r1_500.gif

 

Because when I think about people who are struggling to "walk the walk", I definitely don't have a problem with them admitting they need support from other people, who can be father figures here on earth... (Pope, like papa.) Sure, the sin itself is pathetic (being there myself, I feel these words deeply), but I don't think that's what you meant.

 

/not commenting on Dreher. Not commenting on Dreher. Backing out slowly...

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In case my point isn't clear, here's what I read from the excerpt above: While Rod was waiting for the Pope to point the way for him, millions of Protestants were reading their Bibles and concluding basic truths about the world. They then acted upon those truths. But Rod couldn't simply read the Scripture to walk in faith. He needed the Pope to speak out on social issues. He now worries about how the current Pope's utterances could wreck the faith of other Catholics. All the while, he makes comments about how he could never be a Protestant because we don't have the sacraments.

Hi Christian,

I'm also on the Protestant side of the aisle. I don't have the frustration or annoyance about Pope news that you do--I find it interesting to hear about what other Christians are talking about in the wide world of theological, and especially Christian, discourse. Even if I don't always agree, having a sense of where the church is is something I think vital to having a sense of what the people in my local community might need to hear from me as a teacher.

That said, the paragraph of yours I quoted above struck a particular nerve with me. It brought to mind the old saying that the Reformation saw the people trade one Pope for a thousand popes. And that reminded me of a humorous addendum a good friend makes to that famous phrase: The Reformation didn't trade in one pope for a thousand popes. The Reformation traded one pope for a thousand less-qualified Luther's. I say all of that to say this: everyone has authorities in their lives, people who, when they speak, it matters. As Protestants, our problem has long been that we threaten to make ourselves the only authority--and not very good ones, at that. Every heresy in history was started by a guy sitting alone with his Bible, concluding basic "truths" about the world, and then acting on those "truths." We need each other, and that includes other people who can speak authoritatively to us. I think part of my appreciation for listening when the pope speaks is that he is one of those authorities for many of my brothers and sisters in Christ--and a pretty significant (at least in terms of the number of people listening, but also in his pursuit of learning and devotion) authority at that. I suspect you have your own authorities in your life--your pastor, a trusted mentor, the writings of John Calvin--people that help give shape to the faith so that you know how best to read Scripture and act upon it.

The Pope might not be your guy. I get it, and that's fine. But I for one am glad that there are lots of people out there who seek out a word from a man who has devoted his life to following Jesus. I think that's a good thing.

Edited by John

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That's OK, David. You're welcome to come after me. I re-read, reworded, knowing I might come across in a less than charitable.way.

 

I don't have problem with Dreher struggling with the pope's pronouncements if that's what his system of faith calls him to do. My problem is that he couldn't figure out by his own reading an interpretation what the correct view on sexuality might be. He states: 

 

I am glad that John Paul II was the pope when I was trying to run away from God. His unwillingness to stay quiet left me with a restless conscience, and ultimately led me to commit myself to repentance, and to accept Jesus. If I had been told by the Pope when I was 20 years old what Francis says today, I don’t know what would have happened to me. I don’t believe Francis means it this way, 

 

I'm glad God used the pope in Dreher's life to awaken his conscience, but that sort of statement is just foreign to me. The Protestants Dreher rejects knew enough to "ultimately ... commit [themselves] to repentance, and to accept Jesus" without the pope's signing off on the idea that libertine sexuality might not be a good thing. I think Dreher needs to ponder why that is. I think about stuff like that when Dreher writes what he has Protestants. 

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I see that John has posted as I was composing my latest response. And I see that I've come off as some sort of Lone Ranger type of Christian. That's not me, as I think most people who have paid attention to my cumulative theological posts here would know. But I'm not against underlining the authority of Scripture in the Christian life. Yes, that opens you to various interpretations of Scripture, none absolutely authoritative. But that's OK. In Dreher's instance, all he needed to do was read the New Testament to get some idea that his behavior wasn't in line with Christian ethics.

 

Sure, there are different interpretations of Scripture, and there aer theologically liberal Protestants. But not many would give a thumbs-up to Dreher's description of his preconversion life. Dreher seems to have needed the pope to spell this out for him. Why wasn't the Bible enough? 

 

Go ahead and scoff at my question if you like, but I get tired of reading about the struggles of someone who had the answer right in front of him, but whose faith somehow requires him to hear a special person assent to obvious Scriptural teaching. That doesn't make me a Lone Ranger, or someone who doesn't need community or other Christians in his life. 

Edited by Christian

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Christian,

Thanks for your response. I assure you, there's no scoffing at your question from this corner.

As to the issue of why the Bible wasn't enough for Dreher, I suspect it would be similar to why I would say it's not enough for me. As you acknowledged your own practice in your original post, I also go to church, take sacraments, etc. I need reminders and encouragement from the community if I ever hope to actually follow through with the lofty vision I have of who it is that Jesus wants me to be. Just the Bible might have been enough for the ascetic monks of yesteryear, but I rely on those other voices. I consider them essential--and it seems Dreher does to.

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Christian, I think you have an axe to grind and that you're misreading Dreher because of it.

I don't think Dreher is saying so much that he didn't have an idea of what was right and wrong. He's saying that he knew, and he was trying to deceive himself that the moral standard demanded by Christianity wasn't so clear, wasn't so demanding. He's saying he was surrounded by enablers, and that the Pope was the only one who really spoke to what he already knew was true, and it was that voice that eventually drew him back to faith. In short, he's saying it was the Pope who called him out on deceiving himself.

Which is to say that Dreher's commentary boils down to this idea: in a culture looking for the easy way out, we need more teaching that confronts us with the difficult, challenging truths, which need to be reinforced. Saying, "It's in the Bible" is very insufficient. Yes, it's inscribed on the paper pages of the Bible, but the Gospel only comes to life when lived and professed, which is why we need those around us to challenge us, to challenge our tendency to take the easy way out.

Edited by Ryan H.

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That's OK, David. You're welcome to come after me. I re-read, reworded, knowing I might come across in a less than charitable.way.

 

I don't have problem with Dreher struggling with the pope's pronouncements if that's what his system of faith calls him to do. My problem is that he couldn't figure out by his own reading an interpretation what the correct view on sexuality might be.

Not my intent to come after you. Your terms slavish and pathetic were blood-raising terms.

 

Rod Dreher is a friend of a friend... rather than get deeper into his personal muck, let me speak from my own. Ironically, knowing what is right and wrong can be the wrong way to consider the struggle. Knowing what my religious duty is can be the crux of my obedience... since I am a very religious person--in a sense that is abstracted from the truth or falsity of the religious claims. I've reflected to myself that if there were no true religion, I'd probably be sorely tempted to invent one, since I crave that sense of belonging that comes with communal worship.

 

Thus, for me, hearing my religious leaders preach the need for repentance has been key to my actually repenting, much more so than contemplating it in a solitary way (even though I had no illusions that I needed to!). That's true because then I know that this moral duty is also my religious duty, and that makes it both more critical and somewhat easier. I don't know that it would be true to say, "I can't do it alone," but it would be unlikely that I could.

 

I don't know if in your eyes I am just digging myself deeper into the Pit of Pathetic-ness (John Bunyan should totally have used that one). I don't think I'm describing anything unique to Catholicism or anything that is foreign to you (in case it sounded like I did think that).

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I'm in agreement with what some here are saying, in that the Pope has little influence on me.  Yet what I do find interesting is that he has an influence on an awful lot of people, which can't but somehow influence the world that I'm living in.  As it turns out there are several takes on these sayings depending on the camp the people are in.  To me this all shows that many are rethinking some of these subjects and that its not just happening inside the Protestant world (which I already knew.)  It's something that is happening all around Christendom (in the West at least.)  Even if many Catholics are misunderstanding what the Pope is saying on some of these things, their responses come from minds that have been rethinking (I'm talking about the more Liberal bent who see this as a prospect of change.)

 

There seems to be a lot of people who had little to no care about what the Pope(s) had to say, who's ears are listening up to this.  Even if they are misunderstanding, that means that their misunderstanding is coming from something in their hearts, and this is happening with a lot of Christian people as well as some outside the church.  I think this is significant even if some would say they are wrong.  Right or wrong, there is change in the air.

 

I've touched on the following before here I think.  For me there's a path that is neither extreme Liberal or Conservative on some of these issues.  That's the path of grace.  People are welcome to enter God's grace, which is with them as they sort through some of these issues.  This is the path I (to my limited understanding) see the Pope taking.  I've heard something similar in Protestant circles, being that some are saying that even though they disagree with some of these issues because of their faith, they aren't quite sure if the church is handling it right.

 

I think that what the Pope is saying here might have more of an effect on the Protestant world than other statements, because what he is saying seems to be aligning with a direction some Protestants were already heading towards.  Even if the Catholic church was heading this way previously it doesn't seem to have been articulated in the same way, that many can grab ahold of in the manner which they are.

Edited by Attica

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Ryan: it's true that I have axe to grind, and it's this: Dreher needed the pope's reassurance because every other religious authority in his life (Catholics all, mostly lay people, it sounds like in terms of sexual morals, and then priests after marriage) wouldn't take seriously Biblical teaching. That's sad. We've all felt like those in positions of spiritual authority let us down on certain matters sometimes. But while he was searching for someone to speak to those things, the evangelical Protestant world he's so dismissive of was largely in accord on teaching of those matters. Yes, some of those teachers and laypeople were hypocrites and failures, but they were usually teaching what the Bible teaches. Dreher couldn't see that because he didn't accept authority outside of his closed circles. That was a problem for him then. He's no longer Catholic, but he has the same issues now as an Orthodox believer.

 

As a Protestant, I feel the need from time to time express my own dismissiveness of Dreher's spiritual authorities as he is toward mine.

 

Catholics like to jump up and cheer whenever the pope says something they agree with, and to correct every perceived misinterpretation of the pope's words. I say that it works in the other direction, too: when the pope lets you down, open yourself to humbly seeking spiritual comfort outside your faith tradition. It's preferable to losing your faith altogether.

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Which is to say that Dreher's commentary boils down to this idea: in a culture looking for the easy way out, we need more teaching that confronts us with the difficult, challenging truths, which need to be reinforced. 

If Dreher is in fact saying that, I'll be the first to chime in and say I'm really weary of that kind of religious posturing and wind-baggery. I think this is the kind of thinking that has lead Pope Francis to take the kind of positions and make the kind of statements we are now discussing-- these Us vs Them constructs and the "shiftless, hedonistic Culture needs a good dose of Mt. Sinai" kind of schtick. It smacks of blog-speak and pulpit-fodder, this finger-waving at the culture stuff, and the false proposition that what "they" really need is more rules, tighter strictures and reinforcement of "challenging truths" to be happy and more God-like.  `   

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Dreher couldn't see that because he didn't accept authority outside of his closed circles. That was a problem for him then. He's no longer Catholic, but he has the same issues now as an Orthodox believer.

Christian, would you *really* demand that a Catholic or Orthodox believer accept "authority" outside of their own even more vocally authoritative tradition? That's no more fair than asking a Protestant to submit willy-nilly to dogma. A Catholic or Orthodox who accepts his church's claim to being the fullest expression of the Christian faith would not be under a burden to accept Protestant opinion on the matter - and nor should they be, if they really hold to their church's teaching. Please try to see it through that lens if you're troubled by Dreher's disinterest in evangelical teaching.

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Turning aside from Dreher, a couple of other perspectives on The Interview:

 

Amy Welborn:

 

 

I appreciate what Pope Francis has to say, both when it affirms and when it challenges me.  I’m glad that people are being moved and am sure it will bear fruit, just as Pope John Paul II’s papacy bore fruit and Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy bore fruit.

 

My armchair take on Francis is that when I hear him or read him , what I hear is a fellow who has been in the hierarchy for a long time.  This hit me early on.  His concerns are those of a bishop, and they seem to come out of a bishop’s experience of dealing with interest groups vying for his ear, careerist or pastorally indifferent clerics, and a structure, on the parish and diocesan level, which, despite the best of intentions, so often seems to lose focus and evolve into a self-perpetuating, self-serving club blind to the needy and broken souls right at the doorstep.   It seems to me that much of what he says is an attempted and almost explosive corrective to all of that.

 

It’s also sort of like Pope Francis is having this continual discussion…even argument …but  none of the rest of us can hear what the other party’s saying. 

 

...

 

 

Which is all to the good, but is also, I think,  just one aspect of Catholic life and even Catholic leadership.  To be honest, what doesn’t thrill me about Pope Francis is that his context and reference seems rather…narrow.   His words do not come across as thoughtfully, carefully and appreciatively situated in the experience – past and present  - of the whole Church.  Or even an awareness of all the different sorts of people who might be experiencing exclusion and alienation from Christ or his Church at any given time for a host of reasons, some of which might even surprise him. This puzzles me because, as the interview indicates, he is a deeply cultured person, but his homilies, speeches and exhortations reflect Jesus, Pope Francis and not a whole lot in between.  One could ask, well, what more is there?  Answer…a lot.   That’s what “Catholic” is.  A lot.   That is a tall order, of course, to be able to do that, but that deep and broad vision is, I would think, part of what being Pope is all about.   Unity.

 

The impact, then, is one of a very strong individual.   In the modern world, we like this, but quite honestly, I wonder – is this ideal?   Yes, all Popes are different, because they are human.  They have various gifts and flaws, yes.  But the ideal is that it shouldn’t really matter who the Pope is.   The only thing that Garry Wills ever wrote that I agreed with was in one of his books in which he remembered growing up Catholic when no one really ever knew or cared what the Pope said or did.   It just didn’t matter, because the experience of being Catholic was about more than the papacy.  Now, Wills probably had another agenda here – he was reacting against John Paul’s popularity – but the point stands, I think.   As interesting and inspiring as an individual Pope might be, the focus is supposed to be Christ.  If the Pope’s words or actions bring people closer to Christ – fantastic.  But if he starts functioning in too much of a 1 Corinthians 1:12 kind of way….we might need to refocus and get a grip.

 

Bad Catholic on Francis' comments on unity: "Bet you ten bucks Pope Francis ends the Schism."

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Greg P wrote:

: Ha! That's it! Except, the Pope did not say or imply such a thing. As I read and re-read the full interview, I read him consistently saying "too often The Church has____" This general approach frames a large portion of his comments.

Yeah. I appreciate SDG's argument that it is the New York Times, rather than the Pope, that is obsessed with Sexual Revolution issues (just as it was Obama and the Democrats, not the Republicans, who decided to stir up the culture war during the last election cycle), but how did the Pope himself frame it? Did the Pope, perhaps, frame the issue in such a way as to suggest that it was the Church rather than the New York Times etc. that is "obsessed"? Did the Pope, in other words, frame the issue in such a way as to let the New York Times etc. think that it was those *other* guys -- those *conservatives* -- who needed to repent of their obsessions and not the New York Times etc. itself?

Christian wrote:

: The Protestants Dreher rejects knew enough to "ultimately ... commit [themselves] to repentance, and to accept Jesus" without the pope's signing off on the idea that libertine sexuality might not be a good thing.

You say this as though Protestants were uniformly opposed to libertine sexuality, or as though liberal mainline types were not somehow Protestant themselves.

Someone once wrote (in an article on the Left Behind phenomenon) that Protestants, unlike Catholics, have only their Bibles to keep them warm, and I think Dreher's point here is that that's not enough -- not when you're trying to live a life of chastity. Anyone can have *theories* about chastity, but to *live* it you need practical moral support -- and if the average Catholic church isn't providing it (which, it seems from Dreher's experience, it isn't), then I can see why it would at least have helped to have someone like Pope John Paul II raising a standard for others to follow. Kind of like how, I dunno, my own faith was kept alive twenty years ago by the scholarship of N.T. Wright, at a time when I despaired of finding anyone in the local evangelical churches who could discuss the historical Jesus the way an actual historian would.

: As a Protestant, I feel the need from time to time express my own dismissiveness of Dreher's spiritual authorities as he is toward mine.

If Dreher was dismissive of evangelical "authorities" in any of the posts linked in this thread, then I missed it. Having said that, I cannot help but note that a characteristic feature of evangelical Protestantism is its ability to be dismissive of *its own* authorities, whenever they don't line up with whatever individual evangelicals believe the Bible is saying (and so conservative evangelicals dismiss liberals, and liberal evangelicals dismiss conservatives, etc., etc.).

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Amy Welborn wrote:

: But the ideal is that it shouldn’t really matter who the Pope is. The only thing that Garry Wills ever wrote that I agreed with was in one of his books in which he remembered growing up Catholic when no one really ever knew or cared what the Pope said or did. It just didn’t matter, because the experience of being Catholic was about more than the papacy. Now, Wills probably had another agenda here – he was reacting against John Paul’s popularity – but the point stands, I think. As interesting and inspiring as an individual Pope might be, the focus is supposed to be Christ. If the Pope’s words or actions bring people closer to Christ – fantastic. But if he starts functioning in too much of a 1 Corinthians 1:12 kind of way….we might need to refocus and get a grip.

Very, very well put.

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Nathan: If Dreher's faith is in jeopardy because no one around him -- no lay people or priests -- nor the pope are willing to speak truth, then yes, he should look elsewhere for people and groups that do proclaim that truth.

 

Peter: I specified that I was referring to evangelical Protestants. "Liberal mainline types" were who I was thinking of when I mentioned "those in position of spiritual authority let us down," although the lives (if not the teachings) or certain evangelical Protestants certainly apply there as well:

 

That's sad. We've all felt like those in positions of spiritual authority let us down on certain matters sometimes. But while he was searching for someone to speak to those things, the evangelical Protestant world he's so dismissive of was largely in accord on teaching of those matters. 

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Greg P wrote:

: Ha! That's it! Except, the Pope did not say or imply such a thing. As I read and re-read the full interview, I read him consistently saying "too often The Church has____" This general approach frames a large portion of his comments.

Yeah. I appreciate SDG's argument that it is the New York Times, rather than the Pope, that is obsessed with Sexual Revolution issues (just as it was Obama and the Democrats, not the Republicans, who decided to stir up the culture war during the last election cycle), but how did the Pope himself frame it? Did the Pope, perhaps, frame the issue in such a way as to suggest that it was the Church rather than the New York Times etc. that is "obsessed"? Did the Pope, in other words, frame the issue in such a way as to let the New York Times etc. think that it was those *other* guys -- those *conservatives* -- who needed to repent of their obsessions and not the New York Times etc. itself?

 

No, I think SDG is wrong. The New York Times is in the business of selling papers and driving traffic to their site. Yes, they are guilty of sensationalist headlines; but is anyone who knows American media actually shocked by this? I for one, am certainly not willing to defend their professionalism in this case, but I wouldn't say they are "obsessed" with sex. They are obsessed with making money. 

 

If any "blame" is leveled by the Pope in the interview, it appears to me to be with the Church itself. 

 

Well. Clearly someone’s obsessed with abortion, gay marriage and contraception. But I don’t think it’s the Church.

 

Now, this I disagree with. The New York Times may be guilty of shitty journalism and lousy quote placement, but to say that the Catholic Church has not made cultural discussions about abortion, gay marriage and contraception a priority in their public dialogues over the past few decades is false as well.  (Is it "obsession"? I think so, and have made that point more than once in the Religion forum) And such denials and blame-shifting to the "liberal media" stand in direct contrast to some of the Pope's own statements in the interview, where he admits an imbalance in the emphasis of these peripheral matters by the Church and her priests.

Edited by Greg P

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Nathan: If Dreher's faith is in jeopardy because no one around him -- no lay people or priests -- nor the pope are willing to speak truth, then yes, he should look elsewhere for people and groups that do proclaim that truth.

Not if he believes in certain *other* truth claims that Protestantism cannot fulfill; claims about the holiness of the ordained, institutional Church, or the necessity of the sacraments.

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Christian wrote:

: "Liberal mainline types" were who I was thinking of when I mentioned "those in position of spiritual authority let us down," . . .

Wow. I don't think I've ever known an evangelical who considered a liberal mainline type to be in a position of spiritual authority (over evangelicals, at any rate). It never would have occurred to me that the latter phrase was in reference to the people described by the former phrase.

Greg P wrote:

: The New York Times . . . I wouldn't say they are "obsessed" with sex. They are obsessed with making money.

Well, sure, they know their audience. But whether the obsession is driven by the outlet or by its customers, the fact remains that the New York Times really *does* obsess over sexual issues, and usually from a certain point of view. Remember when Pope Francis and others were calling for a weekend of fasting and prayer over the United States' planned invasion of Syria? Dreher noted at the time that the "paper of record" completely ignored that, and opted instead to run front-page articles about old gay men thinking back fondly to how they used to have sex with strangers in the park, or whatever.

: . . . to say that the Catholic Church has not made cultural discussions about abortion, gay marriage and contraception a priority in their public dialogues over the past few decades is false as well.

I dunno. As Terry Mattingly said in response to the coverage of Francis's comments, "Now, anyone who has covered a meeting of the U.S. bishops knows that — on public policy — they spend far more time on issues such as economic injustice and immigration than on Sexual Revolution debates. But never mind."

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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I dunno. As Terry Mattingly said in response to the coverage of Francis's comments, "Now, anyone who has covered a meeting of the U.S. bishops knows that — on public policy — they spend far more time on issues such as economic injustice and immigration than on Sexual Revolution debates. But never mind."

Well certainly, the Pope's reference to an imbalance in (peripheral) doctrinal emphasis and the pressing need for Church to be more like a field hospital, was directed at Catholic leadership and not the liberal media. It also wasn't directed at debates on economic injustice or immigration-- the obvious context was the emphasis on anti-homosexual preaching, abortion, etc..

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Rod Dreher quotes Larry Chapp:

I need to be aware that the cultural background of Pope Francis is different from mine. More on that in a bit. But I loathe and despise liberal American Catholicism of the James Martin/Nancy Pelosi type and I think I have good reasons for feeling that way. Quite frankly, I find that kind of “Catholicism” vapid, unintelligent, manipulative, and often vicious. And so the fact that the Pope’s words have emboldened those types and, in their eyes and in the eyes of the Western press, vindicated them, makes me want to wretch. As I have said, it now puts orthodox Catholics involved in the fight for our culture on the defensive. It makes them seem now that they are “disobeying the Pope”, and that Benedict and JPII were awful, and all that bunk. The fact of the matter is this: culture is freaking important damn it. So all of this talk about how the Pope is asking us to move beyond the “culture wars” plays right into the hands of the liberal narrative that “hot button” culture war issues are merely “political” grabs for power lacking in substance or rootedness in a truly Gospel-based and evangelical witness. It plays into the narrative that the Church should either change its teaching on those issues or just drop them and focus instead on philanthropic gestures. This is patent nonsense.

Dreher then sums up another part of Chapp's argument:

But on second thought, Chapp says that the key to understanding Francis is that he is a Latin American, not a European or North American. The issues Latin American Catholicism faces are different from what European and North American Catholicism faces. The greatest challenge Catholicism in Latin America faces is competition from Protestant churches. . . .

Maybe, says Chapp, this pope is doing what we’ve all known that some future pope was bound to do one of these days: shift the papacy’s focus away from a rapidly secularizing Europe and Latin America, towards the Global South, where Christianity’s future lies. If conservative/orthodox Catholics in the US feel abandoned, Chapp says, well, that might just be how it’s going to be. . . .

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Greg P wrote:

: Ha! That's it! Except, the Pope did not say or imply such a thing. As I read and re-read the full interview, I read him consistently saying "too often The Church has____" This general approach frames a large portion of his comments.

Yeah. I appreciate SDG's argument that it is the New York Times, rather than the Pope, that is obsessed with Sexual Revolution issues (just as it was Obama and the Democrats, not the Republicans, who decided to stir up the culture war during the last election cycle),

Both sides were stirring culture war in the last debate...neither side was innocent in that.  Conservative certainty about how an ammendment in the Minnesota constitution banning gay marriage (even though it was already illegal in Minnesota at that time) would be fully supported by the public is pretty much the reason gay marriage is now legal in Minnesota. 

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Thom Wade wrote:

: Both sides were stirring culture war in the last debate...neither side was innocent in that.

Obama was stirring it; the Republicans just stumbled into it. Romney clearly wanted to talk about the economy, the economy, the economy, because that's a pretty big issue and Obama was perceived to be weak there -- whereas Obama and his allies brought up same-sex marriage and free birth control and all the rest to rouse the base, partly indeed because they *knew* an election focused on the economy would be difficult for them.

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