04/08/2005: "I Guess We Should Say Something Serious about the Pope"
On the death of John Paul II, the media is behaving quite curiously. On the one hand, it tends to treat the far Christian Right as reactionary hillbillies. But the far Catholic right? They are bridge-builders. They bring hope and solace to its members - or at least, its more traditional adherents. They ended Communism! Why, even The Young People had been touched by the old pope. You'd think they were talking about 50 Cents.
I would posit a different interpretation. The Catholic Church is church that has always chosen politics over sermons, which really isn't the job of a church. In contemporary times, its superficial purpose shifted from that of life in service to others - the Catholic Worker - to politicizing just plain old life. Mere existence became good enough. If your life consisted only of breathing, well, why wouldn't you want that?
And practicality gave way to sentimentality: One can and should offer sandwiches in service to a homeless family, but one cannot offer options that will prevent the financial catastrophe of another child. Or better yet, the horror of aborting one. It is clear that instead of a life - that is, a truly living existence - the church now demands only a live birth. Is that bridge-building? Is that even Christian?
I'm not the only person with questions like these. Christopher Hitchens, one of my libertarian heroes, has some questions of his own, published today on Slate.com. Check it out.