Friday, April 22, 2005

Neither Panzer nor Pansy

Over at Jimmy Akin's place, Michelle Arnold shares a story about a teenage boy who met our Holy Father once, and offered him a "Ratzinger Fan Club" t-shirt. It's a pretty charming story, and describes the Cardinal's gentle and amusing reaction to the gift. It will be much to the chagrin of both the ultra-conservatives and the radical liberals alike to read that the Cardinal simply beared his teeth to smile, and not to bite the boy.

I find it ironic how both extremes will be disappointed by Benedict XVI for essentially the same reason. The left want the Pope to be an extremist because in order to "bring the fight," so to speak, they need provocation. The right, on the other hand, want him to abolish all opposing ideologies because they fear that their own cannot stand the continued onslaught - a fear that is well-grounded. But Benedict XVI will undoubtedly prove the same type of Pope as he was Cardinal - passionate, pastoral, progressive, and moderate. [Aside: Sigh... oh, to must need forsake alliteration on the last word of a grouping to preserve a nuance of meaning. Would that our language were more functional...]

In media virtus stat.

The Church is not as polarized as the media is making it out to be. She safeguards the good and the true, and her place is in the middle of the extremes that have been painted by the media. It's a false dichotomy to imply that one either must be a mysogynist or a feminist, a homophobe or a gay-rights advocate, a militarist or a pacifist. It's not the first time the media has done this. Take the latter contradiction as an example, and consider the way our former Pontiff's view of the war in Iraq was misrepresented by the media. The reason is no great mystery: these polar views make for better news headlines. A front page column runs longer than the Just War Doctrine, with all of its theological and philosophical development and theory. We live, after all, in the society of Cliffs Notes and Shakespeare for Dummies. We "translate" works already written in English so that they may be "understood" - as if our understanding doesn't depend at least somewhat on the original words and sounds, rhymes and rhythms of the author. Have It Your Way is the long-standing slogan of Burger King; but America sees the same deferential attitude across the boards from anyone providing for our needs, from the news-media to our politicians. But not from the Church. Not from Cardinal Ratzinger. Not from Pope Benedict XVI.

Our Holy Father will be what the Holy Spirit wants him to be, and if that coincides with others' expectations, be they those of CNN or of Opus Dei, that simply means that those expectations have conformed to the Will of God - not vice-versa. Las Vegas gave good odds to Cardinal Ratzinger winning the election, but the Cardinals were in a media blackout and weren't influenced in Conclave by information coming through on a ticker via cellular phone. Let the media and all its junkies fly from one extreme to the other; let them judge conservatism and liberalism by their own fluctuating standards; let them try to find their way through these troubled times with maps that are nothing more than legends. Christ is the Way, and that Way is the same yesterday, today and forever. And it is to Christ, along the middle path of virtue, that Benedict XVI will lead his flock - and those who seek Christ will follow.


Anonymous "Duc in altum" said...

Very nicely done!! I enjoyed reading this very much. If you keep up with this, I may be looking for other ways to put you talents to use...nihil obstat quominus imprimatur!!!

4/25/05, 10:20 PM  

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