Thursday, April 17, 2008

Either/Or and the Pope

How often, after all, do I get to embed a video by a professor and journalist talking reasonably about religion?

I'm intrigued by the coverage of the Pope. NPR tells me he met privately with some victims of priestly pedophilia, which struck me as very pastoral of him. NPR also reported on the mass in the baseball stadium in Washington, D.C. As they said, this Pope speaks in paragraphs, not soundbites. Sadly, the NYT squeezes the Pope into soundbites. Sometimes function must give way to form, no matter what.

I would prefer to focus on the paragraphs, myself. If anyone finds a reliable source of the Pope's words, I'd welcome the link. I may not agree with this Pope, but I don't know that until I can study his words; and what I have heard so far makes those words worth examining on their own terms, in their full paragraphs.

Steinfels is clearly right: journalism treats religion only as a story when it involves conflict. Otherwise, religion is wholly uninteresting, and messages of "hope" and "love" are "Hallmark greeting cards," and not to be taken seriously. Not to go political, but the same critique was leveled against Barack Obama for awhile; the idea that a politician could campaign on "hope" without campaigning on American chauvinism (the only distinction I can find from Reagan's campaigns; I'm trying to be charitable to the pundits) was soundly reviled as mere foolishness, or mawkishness, or, well...

It certainly wasn't a plan.

These things insist on coming back to faith, don't they? Faith, and the nature of faith. Not things easily spoken of in the marketplace of ideas; not things easily hammered into a shape we can trade in. Still worth talking about, though.

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