Sunday, October 27, 2013

Listening to Francis

It's been a little over a month since the big interview with Pope Francis was released to the world. And in that time, a mountain of spin and hype has been produced, from which the following comment is perhaps the greatest nugget of truth:
Breaking – Francis said something and most people are convinced it proves them right!
Sometimes, we really just need to sit down, shut up, and simply listen to the wisdom and experience of our siblings. This was one of those times. Unfortunately, it seems that most of us are so hell-bent on advancing our various agendas that listening to the pope took a back seat to mining his words for ammunition. Corporate religion thrives, because we continuously choose proof texts over grace. What is wrong with us?

Of course, who am I to talk. If I hadn't been quite so determined to write something profound about the interview, maybe this post would have been published on time. But giving up on that goal would have required meditating more than I care to on Francis' warning about "the lurking danger of living in a laboratory." What is wrong with me?

Yes, the act of listening, especially to someone like Pope Francis, is a grave threat to one's peace of mind. It's much safer to focus on proof texting.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Monthly Reading Links

"As it's come to be understood in the 21st century, the papacy is really an impossible job. A pope is expected to be the CEO of a global religious organization, a political heavyweight, an intellectual giant, and a media rock star, not to mention a living saint … Yet at his six-month mark … Pope Francis is drawing better reviews on those five scores than anyone might reasonably have anticipated back on March 13."
John Allen, National Catholic Reporter

"It was on this day … 120 years ago, that Swami Vivekananda created a sensation by his address to the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago … In retrospect it seems to have been one of those pivotal moments that brought a possible hope vividly before the eyes of people in that era of a slowing dawning global society … Noting this does not take away from the sorrow of 9/11/2001, but it does remind us that violence is neither the beginning or end of our human destiny."
Francis Clooney, America

"Somewhere in there, between the physical and virtual clutter, we are losing the ordinary qualities of home – the solitude to recollect, the time for families to talk … We are losing the 'nothing much' that is home. The room for tumult and quiet, for passing the time with friends, for the ordinary pleasures of a day well lived."
Howard Mansfield, Los Angeles Times

"In an old cemetery, where few headstones have been added since the '50s, a large crowd gathered … for a memorial that was 65 years in the making … 'Today we are here to right a wrong,' said Fresno Roman Catholic Bishop Armando X. Ochoa."
Diana Marcum, Los Angeles Times

"As citizens of the United States (indeed, of the world) continue to debate the morality and legality of strikes in Syria, I find myself thinking through the arguments for and against, and reflecting on them in the light of faith … In many ways the conflict I feel in my discernment is represented in this old photograph." [Of the author's grandfather, a "realist", interviewing Dorothy Day, a pacifist, in 1940.]
Emily Reimer-Barry, Catholic Moral Theology

"And so it is, as I remember my parents on their Yahrzeit, that I have come to the conclusion that perhaps God did not hide His face from them after all during the years of the Shoah. Perhaps it was a divine spirit within them that enabled them to survive with their humanity intact. And perhaps it is to that God that we should be addressing our prayers during these Days of Awe and throughout the year."
Menachem Rosensaft, The Washington Post

"Any one of these falls would have been enough. Yet God grants us a hundred or more in one place! It is too much… too much to take in, too much to ever hope to make a return, too much to do anything but fall down in worship … In the midst of such insane, awe-inspiring generosity, I prayed: 'Thank you. I accept.' The response I heard was the booming, raucous belly laugh of God as the falls crashed around me; the laugh of a delighted giver who simply cannot or will not stop giving."
Chris Schroeder, The Jesuit Post

Follow me on Twitter, @jwbidwell, for additional reading recommendations.