"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"...doesn't philosophy amount to the sum of all thinkable and unthinkable errors, ceaselessly repeated?"--Jean-Luc Marion

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Sunday, January 21, 2018


Read this, from The Daily Beast, and be shocked and appalled:

Pope Francis addressed a group of cloistered nuns in Peru on Sunday, telling them that gossip is akin to terrorism. “You know what a gossiping nun is? A terrorist,” Francis said in Lima to the 500 nuns, who rarely leave their convents. “Because gossip is like a bomb. One throws it, it causes destruction and you walk away tranquilly. No terrorist nuns! No gossip, and know that the best remedy against gossip is to bite your tongue.”

The Daily Beast links to the Reuters article where those quotes are found, so let's read on for more appalling news!

At the start of his last day in Peru Francis addressed some 500 nuns, known as “contemplatives,” who usually live a life of prayer and rarely leave their convents except for medical reasons.

“Seeing you all here an unkind thought comes to my mind, that you took advantage (of me) to get out of the convent a bit to take a stroll,” he said, drawing roars of laughter from the nuns, many of whom were elderly.

Later in his talk to the nuns gathered in a Lima church, he sent a long-distance greeting to four cloistered nuns in his native Buenos Aires. He thanked them for their prayers for him and added, “The rest of you aren’t jealous, are you?”

“Nooooo,” they shot back, like schoolgirls to a teacher.

He also urged them not to succumb to gossiping in their convents, comparing it to “terrorism” - something he regularly tells priests and nuns on his global travels.

“You know what a gossiping nun is?” he asked. “A terrorist.”

The nuns laughed again.

“Because gossip is like a bomb. One throws it, it causes destruction and you walk away tranquilly. No terrorist nuns! No gossip, and know that the best remedy against gossip is to bite your tongue,” he said.

Trying to make his appeal local, he joked that gossiping nuns were worse “than the terrorists of Ayacucho.”

Some Peruvians did not find it funny, comparing a gossiping nun to members of a guerrilla group, especially on a pastoral trip aimed at unifying a politically divided Peru, and turned to social media to call the comments insensitive or disrespectful.

But with all due respect, he wasn't talking to you.  The nuns knew what he meant.  He was speaking to a specific group of people, living under the specific rules of their order (and the Rule of St. Benedict, orders for religious communities that go back centuries and try to keep humans who love to gossip from turning against each other like, I dunno, ordinary people).  He was giving them advice as their spiritual leader.

Calm down; they got the joke, even if you didn't.  And if you don't like the joke, I have no argument with you.  My point was in pointing out the framing.  The Daily Beast headlined their article this way:

Pope Francis: ‘Gossiping Nuns’ Are Like ‘Terrorists’

And removed, as I noted, all context.  Reuters headlined their article this way:

Pope brings down the house, joking with cloistered nuns

Reuters is a news service; The Daily Beast is a website.  Internet websites function by generating outrage.  News services deal in gossip, but try to defenestrate it until it is merely "news."

O brave new world, that has such creatures in it!


Blogger The Thought Criminal said...

Oh, I don't know. If you include false stories about Hillary Clinton as have appeared in the media for the past 25 or so years, I can see how you could argue that that could end up getting us all killed.

I think the concept of sophisticated understanding died out sometime in the same little while. I am always being surprised to find out how incredibly unsophisticated, ignorant and incapable of understanding contexts people in online journalism and, now, even old fashioned journalism are now. Everyone seems to be going stupid and people who aren't can't adjust fast enough to keep down.

4:59 PM  

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