If it was good enough for St. James …

KJV 02There are GetReligion readers who believe that we praise the Los Angeles Times too much. So let’s poke the left coast giant just a bit this morning (as I sit here in a hotel lobby in Southern California).

The story in question is about Carl Amari, a media guy whose goal is to create another Passion-style evangelical wave with his The Word of Promise project, a gigantic, high-quality word-for-word dramatic reading of the Bible. So far so good. Here is one of the key paragraphs in the entertainment-section report:

The Christian consumer market has tight circuitry, and Amari knows that, depending on whether his project clicks there, it could become a hugely lucrative pop-culture phenomenon, a la Mel Gibson’s “Passion,” or a largely ignored curiosity piece, such as the film “The Nativity Story.” A team of Bible scholars was brought in to fret over every inflection and pronunciation and to ensure that every line is true to the New King James Version of the Bible.

“When it comes to the Bible, you really can’t get it wrong,” Amari said. “You’ll have people burning down your building. You don’t want to get these people mad.”

That sounds really good.

But there’s a problem. The only version now includes this correction.

FOR THE RECORD: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the Bible edition being used in a new audio-book project as the St. James Version. … The Bible being used is the New King James Version.

Absolutely amazing. As Frank “Bible Belt Blogger” Lockwood of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette put it:

I can’t believe this error found its way into a major American newspaper. I really truly can’t. But the Los Angeles Times has managed to mangle the title of the most famous book in English literature.

Yes, friends, it appears the urban legend that the King James Version is uniquely blessed because it is linked to a biblical King James or to St. James has soaked into the copy desk of the entertainment section of the Los Angeles Times. Who knew there would a pack of old-fashioned fundamentalists (word used accurately) working in such a hip, edgy place?

Actually, I don’t think that’s the problem that led to this error.

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Who, what made him do it?

virginia tech pinThe mainstream media explanation for the tragic actions of a young college student in Blacksburg, Va., has been that he was troubled, sick, mentally ill and a textbook case of a school shooter.

Not everyone is going to be satisfied with those explanations, though, since there is really no way to know for sure what compelled Cho Seung-hui to release his heinous rampage. Explanations will come from university officials, family, friends and, yes, clergy. Many of you have emailed us about this Fox News report that asks “Did the Devil Make Him Do It?”, and while the producers interviewed a lot of good people it is largely speculative and lacks a serious news hook.

The first article to shine light on the idea that spiritual forces were directly at work Monday morning was this hard news story by Tim Funk in The Charlotte Observer:

Evangelist Franklin Graham, who dispatched 20 “rapid-response” chaplains to Virginia Tech this week, says he believes gunman Cho Seung-Hui was “demon-possessed.”

“The thirty-something lives he took and the families he ripped apart — for what? I believe it’s the devil,” Graham said Wednesday.

Graham, who leads Charlotte’s Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, dismissed the idea that the killer was mentally ill or seeking revenge.

“I don’t think you can go out and murder innocent people just because somebody rejected you. We’ve all been rejected,” he said. “I believe there are demons that dwell in the human heart.”

Funk adds that “not all Christian leaders are willing to rule out mental illness in the Virginia shootings.” But since when are these two explanations mutually exclusive? And the story is awfully short on details and theological content for such a weighty subject. What is the basis for Graham’s belief that Cho was demon possessed?

The challenge in reporting on this subject is that no one really knows why this happened or why Cho decided to go on a murderous rampage Monday morning. For a journalist, when did the psychologist become the more trusted source on human nature than the pastor?

And while Protestant denominations are naturally inclined to be more divided on this issue, the Catholic Church is by no means divided. Here’s The New York Times in January 1999:

Reaffirming that the Devil exists and is at work in the world, the Vatican today issued a revised rite of exorcism, the Roman Catholic ritual for driving out demons.

In an apparent effort to placate liberal Catholics embarrassed by a practice that seems to echo medieval superstition, the Vatican urged those performing exorcisms to take pains to distinguish between possessed people and others suffering from forms of mental or psychological illness.

Exorcism is an ancient practice of driving the Devil from people believed to be possessed. It remains a source of theological debate and in recent years, despite its renewed popularity in the United States and elsewhere, the church has sought to play down its significance without shaking the foundations of belief in a personal source of evil in the world.

For an excellent post on the religious aspects in this tragic news story, go over to this post by Ted Olsen and staff of Christianity Today. Olson asks questions about Cho’s religious beliefs, considering his reference to Christianity in his eight-page manifesto. While it’s inconclusive whether Cho had faith, there are plenty of faith aspects worth talking about:

If Cho’s faith remains something of a mystery, Christianity is front and center in much of the memorial. Stories of the victims are trickling out. The Myspace page of Lauren McCain, 20, now continues her testimony. “The purpose and love of my life is Jesus Christ,” she wrote. “I don’t have to argue religion, philosophy, or historical evidence because I KNOW Him. He is just as real, if not more so, as my ‘earthly’ father.”

I was very disappointed that the diatribe Cho mailed to NBC News received so much attention, particularly by NBC and MSNBC. I think stories like McCain’s and others are far more compelling and newsworthy, and it’s a pity that the final media stunt of a killer was able to dominate so much print and air time.

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More on the evolution of Pope Benedict

rottMaybe it’s really difficult to write about Pope Benedict XVI. We noted that bad Newsweek International piece last week. And here’s another one that’s not the best example from the genre. Jeff Israely filed something from Rome for Time that was given the headline “A Step Backward for Pope Benedict?” Intriguing. Let’s learn more:

Two years into his papacy, Benedict XVI may be about to reclaim his reputation as a no-holds-barred traditionalist. Thanks to Benedict’s thoughtful manner, Church progressives had believed that the man who was once the hard-line Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger would cut some slack on areas of doctrinal contention — using his intellectual heft and traditional credentials as necessary cover. But as Benedict turns 80 on April 16 and marks two years as Pope on April 19, the once hopeful progressives have all but given up their fantasy of Benedict the Reformer.

It’s funny. I remember how when Ratzinger was chosen, the response was more or less sheer horror from progressives. Now, in just two years, we are to believe that they changed their tune and believed he’d throw away doctrinal positions — only to be horribly disappointed once again? I mean, I understand changes of heart but this doesn’t seem to be an accurate portrayal of progressives’ hopes or fears. It seems more like a flashily-written lede that is not born out by the rest of the story. I’m not sure it serves readers wanting to learn about Ratzinger or those skeptical about him.

Israely cites one problem that is supposed to be heartbreaking — giving priests the option to perform mass in Latin. I’m with Luther on the benefits of chanting a mass in the vernacular, but I’m not sure that this change — which is only permitting priests to do a Latin Mass facing the altar if they want, is that big of a deal. An unnamed priest says it’s a big deal but doesn’t quite explain why.

Israely quotes another two unnamed but disappointed folks, a “progressive cleric” and a “senior Church official.” I understand how difficult it might be to get folks to talk on the record but if the flashy lede is to be believed, you need to back it up with more than anonymous sources, I think.

Israely tries to sum up a bit of the Pope’s approach and has this interesting note:

In addition, Benedict professes a very specific kind of Christianity, one based not only on the teachings of Jesus, but on abiding by the letter of ancient Catholic Church traditions as the only effective bulwark against rampant relativism.

That’s a fascinating claim and one I’d love to learn more about. It’s crying out for examples, I think. The last line is also worth excerpting:

The professor Pope may be happy to have a conversation on doctrine, but he knows he always has the last word.

That’s one way of putting it.

Eric Gorski — now with the Associated Press — had a fantastic and relevant article on Benedict and his imprint on the United States. He notes that the Pope hasn’t focused too much on the States but that is changing, with some looming bishop appointments. The balanced and informative article quotes a variety of observers — on the record! — and notes areas where Benedict might have taken action in the United States but chose not to. Rather than repeating the notion that the Pope has undergone some magical transformation, Gorski presents an alternate view from conservative editor of First Things Richard John Neuhaus:

Neuhaus dismisses suggestions that conservative Catholics such as himself are disappointed that Benedict has not been tougher, and derides media portrayals of the pope transforming himself from “God’s rottweiler” to kindly uncle.

“There is no evidence whatsoever he has changed his judgment on anything of consequence the last two years,” Neuhaus said. “He is a gentle, thoughtful, paternal, firm and loving person. That’s the man you see. For those of us who knew Ratzinger over the last 25 years, there were no surprises at all.”

With a religion as large as Roman Catholicism, there are bound to be different views. Sometimes rather than picking one narrow view and running with it, it’s better to go ahead and lay out the nuance and complexities.

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Vaya sin Dios

losing religionLaurie Goodstein had a very interesting feature in Sunday’s New York Times on Hispanics abandoning religion in the United States. Goodstein brings life to recent polls and surveys about the trend by speaking with immigrants about why they have ceased worshiping. One Guatemalan immigrant says he stopped feeling the need to pray to God when he came to America. Goodstein says research suggests that secularization is part of assimilation into American society. Studies indicate that Hispanics who identify themselves as having no religion are more likely to have previously been religious than other Americans.

It’s a great topic to cover in real time since most work done on the issue is performed by historians long after the fact. Every immigrant group’s religious life has been affected dramatically upon arrival in the country. Goodstein really brings to light some of the underlying factors:

The Roman Catholic Church, the religious home for most Hispanics, is experiencing the greatest exodus. While many former Catholics join evangelical or Pentecostal churches, the recent research shows that many of them leave church altogether.

“Migrating to the U.S. means you have the freedom to create your own identity,” said Keo Cavalcanti, a sociologist at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., and a co-author of a recent study that found a trend toward secularization among Hispanics in Richmond. “When people get here they realize that maintaining that pro forma display of religiosity is not essential to doing well.”

One thing that struck me about the immigrants’ stories was how materialistic they’d become or how business concerns took time formerly given to worship. I’ve mentioned religion professor Dell deChant before. He’s written that commercialism is not a mark of secularism but of a new — or actually quite old — religion practiced with fervor throughout the country. In the new religion, worship occurs in malls and other businesses as actors buy and sell goods to take part in the cosmic story of acquisition. Consider this anecdote:

Jesus Cerritos, a 37-year-old construction worker who immigrated from Mexico 18 years ago, said he spent his weekends running errands, going to Wal-Mart and watching television. His children, ages 11 and 9, tell him that church is boring and that they have no desire to go, but Mr. Cerritos has mixed feelings.

“Here, the people get more materialistic,” Mr. Cerritos said. “The culture here is really barren. There’s no traditions.”

Read the whole story here.

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Unpacking the pagan prayer beads

celticwood LARGEIn the late 1980s, I went to the Roman Catholic cathedral in downtown Denver to cover a rally by Catholic feminists who were demanding open talks about the ordination of women and other changes in Church teachings. It was your basic Catholic progressive gathering, or so I thought.

While drifting through the crowd, I found myself talking to a women I had interviewed a few months earlier — while doing a story on feminist theology and neopaganism. She was a witch and, as I discovered, considered herself a Catholic witch.

I thought of that awkward moment long ago while reading this week’s Religion News Service online “Article of the Week,” a feature by reporter Kimberly Winston titled “‘Hail Persephone‘ — Pagans Retool the Rosary.” Actually, the focus here is on people like that Catholic Witch I met long ago, people who now tend to identify themselves as “Christo-Pagans.” Here’s the heart of the story:

No one knows how many neo-pagans use prayer beads. But there are now a sprinkling of pagan-oriented rosary Web sites, including www.sacredgrove.com and www.paganrosary.com, where people can find prayers for an “angelic rosary,” a “runic rosary,” and a “Celtic goddess rosary,” among others.

… Praying with beads is a spiritual practice with a long history in most of the world’s religions, one that that neo-pagans are now rediscovering, scholars and practitioners say.

“It has been very common for contemporary pagans to regard Mary in some of her manifestations as a goddess,” said Chas Clifton, a professor at Colorado State University and author of “Her Hidden Children: The Rise of Wicca and paganism in America.” “Language and ritual have been transferred around from goddess to goddess in the pagan point of view, and the idea of having beads on a string is cross-cultural.”

The story does a good job of making it clear that this kind of prayer rite produces a form of spirituality that may seem to create a bridge between different faiths. The experience is similar, as is the yearning for a physical object on which to concentrate while praying.

But the contents of the prayers are different, which means the doctrines are different.

These forms of spirituality look similar, but the divine objects are not the same. So what is going on here?

One explanation is that neo-paganism has simply grown up. Many contemporary pagans come to their faith after rebelling against the religion of their youth. They have now matured to the point where they can reach back and borrow practices that once worked for them.

“For a long time, pagans were exploring,” said John Michael Greer, Vaughn’s co-author on “Pagan Prayer Beads.”

“Sooner or later you say, ‘I have been talking about the gods and goddesses, maybe I should find a way to get in touch with them.’ One way you do that is through meditation and prayer.”

I especially liked the sidebar, which offered — without commentary — some pagan rosary prayers. Check it out. This is a timely, effective story about an important trend in modern, some would say “postmodern,” spirituality.

Excerpt of “Rosary to the Earth Mother” by Meg

On the Crucifix or Medal:
Green Lady of the budding Tree, The Full Blossomed Fruit, the Dying Seed
Queen of Life, Death and Birth
Mother of Sorrows, Mother of Mirth
Ancient Mother Known as: Gaia, Demeter, Tellus, Ceres, and Danu
I say this rosary in honor of You.

On the first five beads:

1 — I ask the Earth Mother to Ground Me
2 — I ask the Earth Mother to Center Me
3 — I ask the Earth Mother to help me grow
4 — I ask the Earth Mother to help me flow
5 — I ask the Earth Mother to Nourish my Soul

The photo is from www.cauldronfarm.com

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And Benedict hates teddy bears, too

puppyA few days ago we looked at Russell Shorto’s big New York Times Sunday Magazine piece on Pope Benedict XVI’s first two years in office. I mentioned a few quibbles with it but was overall very impressed. Readers shared their mixed responses.

But if some of you thought that was bad reportage, I have no idea how you’ll respond to this. Newsweek International has a shockingly bad and almost silly analysis of the same issue. You really have to read the whole thing. I want to excerpt it all and I’m undecided which parts show the least balance.

Angry hackReporter Joseph Contreras begins by noting that Benedict will head to Brazil in a few weeks. He then proceeds to compare Pope John Paul II to the current pope, and it doesn’t look pretty. I find it funny that the previous pope is now the model of perfection. I don’t seem to recall that being the case even a few years ago. Anyway, the piece is truly horrible. Quotes, such as the one from an angry Milanese housewife, seem pulled from nowhere. Statistics contradict the premise of the article, such as the one showing a decline in Roman Catholicism in Latin America during the previous pope’s time in office. The language is loaded. It’s obsessed with politics. I could go on. Here’s a sample:

The pope should choose his words carefully; on one of his last trips, to his native Germany, he sparked a firestorm when he quoted in passing scathing comments about the Prophet Muhammad. Within days Benedict was being burned in effigy. He can expect a warmer greeting in South America. But there’s no denying he’s been a disappointment to many faithful there and elsewhere. Some U.S. Catholics condemn him as aloof, Europeans resent his intrusions into their affairs and he’s never been popular in Latin America. The region, home to 450 million Catholics, had hoped to see one of its own succeed John Paul. Many there have felt ignored by the man who ultimately did.

Part of the problem is style. The last pope was a former parish priest who recast himself as an international player (he spoke eight languages, including Spanish and Portuguese). Benedict is a colorless academic who spent much of his career teaching theology and philosophy.

Oh, JPII spoke eight languages? Well, Ratzinger speaks ten, a point Contreras didn’t seem to think was worthwhile. The article gets more loaded and less worthwhile to read. I know other countries have different journalistic standards than we do here, but I don’t think that quite explains what happens with this piece. Benedict doesn’t care about the developing world, Contreras argues. He’s irrationally preoccupied with Europe. He doesn’t have any fans. He’s homophobic, is imposing a clerical dictatorship in Italy, and he hates Katrina victims. He’s unsuited for the job. He’s a reclusive intellectual only interested in old rituals and disputes. Oh, and he opposed liberation theology, which struck some as mean-spirited. Get this part:

It also underscored just how conservative — and far from the mainstream — Benedict is. That will cause more trouble in the future, especially in Latin countries that already believe he is behind the times. Later this month, the Vatican is expected to permit congregations to celebrate [M]ass in Latin without seeking prior approval. This represents a big step backward: Pope Paul VI abolished the Latin rite in 1969, and relatively few modern Catholics can even recall it. But that doesn’t worry Ratzinger. “He’s an old-fashioned guy who wants to go back to what [the church] was before,” says David Gibson, the author of an acclaimed 2006 biography of the pope.

I hope it felt good for Contreras to spew this piece, because it sure doesn’t serve any other purpose. I certainly don’t think Pope Benedict is above reproach, but this piece is just infantile.

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Is God in Second Life?

Second life ChurchI’m never sure what to make of news articles on Internet-based virtual worlds. This is partially since I have never participated in a virtual world, and while I play the occasion video game, the closest I’ve ever been to a “second life” on the Internet is the rare occasion that I play Halo 2. By no means am I suggesting that there are not legitimate news stories in these second Web lives. It’s just that I’m perplexed that there are enough people out there with enough time to make these genuine news stories.

Stephanie Simon of the Los Angeles Times is up on the trend, and writes in an article on Easter Sunday that “Second Life has developed a rich spiritual dimension in the last year, welcoming congregations of Buddhists, Jews, Muslims and numerous Christian denominations.” Online-based churches are not exactly a new thing. Tmatt wrote about the Church of Fools experiment back in August 2004.

Maybe some of you out there who play virtual reality games like Second Life can provide a more nuanced perspective, but I can’t say for sure whether Simon is onto anything significant other than another attempt to start a virtual church in the latest popular online virtual reality world. The article mentions that Second Life has a membership of 5 million, but that does not mean they’re online at the same time. Simon gives the skeptics the first word on the trend, but more on them later. Here is what the proponents have to say:

Then again, it’s not all escapism: There are Al-Anon meetings in Second Life, and dances and bingo games — and every manner of mundane daily activity, except perhaps the bathroom pit stop. While worship services may be a bit stilted online, veteran gamers say they can be surprisingly fulfilling. Communities as varied as Hare Krishna, Quaker and Mormon meet weekly for discussions, lectures, live streaming music and text-messaged prayer.

“It’s obviously important for a small but significant number,” said Yunus Yakoub, who’s researching a doctoral dissertation on the religious dimensions of Second Life. Yakoub said he hears from several dozen avatars a week looking for information on virtual congregations.

Perhaps because all interactions are anonymous, conducted from behind facades, gamers say the spiritual conversations in Second Life tend to be more intimate and meaningful than the good-sermon-nice-weather exchanges that pass for conversation in real-world pews.

“We definitely feel the presence of the Holy Spirit there in Second Life,” said Larry Transue, who runs the virtual Northbound Community Church, which is a ministry of the very real church of the same name, located in Thousand Oaks.

Now would be a good point to hear from a theologian about God’s presence on the Internet. I know from a personal account that the mother of the American astronaut John Glenn was concerned what would happen to her son’s soul if he died while in space. In other words, does God exist outside of the Earth? She was assured that God does indeed reign in outer space. What do the theologians say regarding the Holy Spirit’s presence in Second Life? The answer is probably fairly simple but worth exploring.

Now, what of the unbelievers in this trend?

Skeptics suggest that believers could find more enriching ways to spend Easter Sunday than tapping out commands to make animated emus pray.

“It’s like online sex — it’s satisfying in a weird way, I suppose … but the real thing is so much better, why would you want to waste your time on it?” asked Francis Maier, chancellor of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Denver and an avid video gamer.

Some Second Lifers also find the idea of virtual worship odd: They would rather spend their online time flying, shopping for risque clothes, chasing gorgeous blonds or engaging in other activities they would never attempt in a world marred by gravity and cellulite.

The article profiles a pastor named Craig Groeschel of the Oklahoma City-based church LifeChurch.tv, which has spent $5,000 to $10,000 in programming and other expenses for its Second Life Easter service. The numbers show that nearly 4,000 people “attended” the service, which is more than the number of visitors to MTV’s virtual show.

For the non-gamers out there, check out the video that accompanies the article to get an idea of what Simon is writing about. The nature of the these virtual world is so flighty and subject to the latest crazes that it’s difficult to know whether this attempt to establish Internet-based churches will stick around in any lasting way.

Simon balances her article well with those who do not see the future in Internet-based churches while providing a voice for those who believe they are on the edge of the next big thing. But some historical perspective (the fact that these things are not new) and a bit of theology would have rounded out the piece nicely.

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Maybe Big Ben’s not so bad after all

BenedictThank you to all the readers who sent along their favorite or least favorite stories published this past weekend. There are too many to get to, but I’ll begin with The New York Times Sunday Magazine‘s cover story on Pope Benedict XVI. Good timing on that piece, as it ran on Easter Sunday. The author is Russell Shorto, who has written previously for the magazine on people who oppose contraception and people who oppose gay marriage. Both of those pieces took a liberal view not out of place in the Sunday Magazine. But Shorto is a good writer who researches his topics better than, well, the average New York Times Sunday Magazine author. Not that that’s saying much.

Anyway, I’m sure there are many legitimate quibbles or gripes with the piece, and I’m curious what readers thought about it, but color me impressed. The piece is long (8,294 words!) and covers so much. Its main focus is The Pope Formerly Known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s emphasis on the threat of secularism — but it hits New (lay) Movements, Ratzinger’s background and the worldly and church context into which Benedict speaks. I kept wishing each aspect was its own piece since Shorto took the time to read the Pope’s speeches, visit actual congregations, and consider nuance. Shorto says Benedict’s papal theme is that Europe is moving toward a dictatorship of relativism that recognizes nothing for certain. It’s nice to see such a thoughtful retrospective on the second anniversary of his election, and one that doesn’t bring out the tired old tropes.

It must be said that Shorto seems only to know how to contact liberals since they are more or less the only people quoted in the piece. That’s a deficit. He also seems to continue with his “theological conservatives are wacky” approach, but I don’t mind that so much since he is explaining them to an audience that doesn’t naturally understand them:

“Dogma” wasn’t a dirty word — it was the ground. “Dogma was conceived not as an external shackle but as the living source that made knowledge of the truth possible in the first place,” he wrote in his memoirs. Ratzinger rose rapidly through the ranks of Bavaria’s intensely rigorous Catholic institutions, holding the chairmanship in dogma at the University of Regensburg from 1969 to 1976, until he was appointed archbishop of Munich and Freising and his career focus shifted toward Rome.

It’s just so funny to me. The assumption that dogma — meaning a a system of principles or tenets — would ever be considered dirty. But on the other hand I appreciate that he quotes Ratzinger — and quotes him well — to provide an alternate view.

Here’s another good sample from the piece. It shows the breadth and scope that Russo is trying to cram into this one article and it works around obstacles such as the Vatican’s long-practiced refusal to grant interviews to reporters. It also demonstrates his reliance on liberal church figures and sums up the point of the piece:

As a longtime university professor, the pope is well known for his collegiality, his reaching out to, and exchanging ideas with, a broad spectrum of Catholics as well as with nonbelievers. This may explain why, despite the fact that his core conservative convictions are unchanged, he has managed to get many left-leaning church figures to rally around his central focus. Notker Wolf, abbot primate of the worldwide Benedictine order, himself a Bavarian who has known the pope for decades, was critical at the start, based on Ratzinger’s actions in his previous job. But Wolf, too, was won over. As we sat in the serene Sant’Anselmo monastery on the Aventine Hill in Rome, which serves as the headquarters of the Benedictines, he distilled the pope’s core message for me this way: “Western society has become detached from the roots of its creator. This is the basic view of the pope, and it is my view also. What the Muslims say about the decadence of Europe is partly right, and that’s because we think we have to set up everything as if God doesn’t exist. On the other hand, faith also has to be reasonable — it has to stand in front of reason. I would say that he means this not just regarding terrorism but also charismatics. He says we have to remain sober in this religious way of thinking. The old Occidental tradition has been a fruitful tension between faith and reason.”

There is much to analyze in a piece that long, and there were aspects that I found troubling, such as the supposed conflict between Ratzinger as chief enforcer of doctrine versus Benedict as Pope. Ratzinger was “God’s Rottweiler,” of course, while Benedict is nice and broad-minded. First off, I’m not sure there’s as much of a difference there as some like to see it. I think the fact is that people in the mainstream media didn’t know Ratzinger terribly well when he was chosen as Pope and now they know him better. But even if there is a difference, I think some context is in order. The job of the doctrinal enforcer is different than that of the Pope. Is the dichotomy between upholding doctrine and being loving or evangelical false? At the very least I think it shouldn’t be assumed.

I loved the piece’s broad and sweeping scope, but that was also its major problem. It seemed to lack a bit of focus or enough details on each of the subsets. But there is also a sense that the stories were shoehorned into the piece. But you’ll have to go read it. All 8,300 words of it. There are fascinating tidbits about Benedict’s interest in the schism with the Orthodox, as well as a look at how the Vatican has continued to handle priestly sex scandals. Read it and let us know what you think.

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