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I’ve grown accustomed to your apes.

Someday, I’ll write a post for which that would be an appropriate title.  In the meantime, here’s a moderately interesting question:  how much can you tell about a person by studying his face?  Can you tell if he’s basically decent or not?  Does it make a difference if it’s a photo or in person?  Have you ever been terribly wrong?

I saw this picture of the Pope

and thought to myself, “That there is the main reason people don’t like him.”  That’s completely unjust, of course.  Anyone who’s been paying attention knows that this is a kind, humble, and holy man, apparently devoid of selfishness and malice.  But if you were already anti-Catholic, I can see how — well, like everyone says, he just looks like Emperor Palpatine.

People who assume that he stays up late at night, figuring out how to boost  the annual number of African AIDS orphans, might say that they can see his evil on his face.  It’s not hard to find apparent evidence of what they expect to see.  But of course, they’re wrong.

So obviously you can’t assume that someone’s evil just because they look mean and wrinkly.  But there are other things you can see, I think: self-absorbtion or nacissism, for one thing.  Serial killers and movie stars often have that same look.

Of course we can’t know someone’s soul.  Of course there are very few people who are all good, or all bad — maybe there are none at all.  But what do you think?  Who can you think of who, as far as you can see, shows exactly who they are on their face?  Have you ever been taken in — either fooled by a baby-faced villain, or surprised to discover that someone whose face you feared or despised turned out to be a friend or a hero?  Do you have a misunderstood face?

Maybe this isn’t the best post for Advent, when we’re supposed to be searching our own souls and then turning to God, instead of staring at each other, searching out signs of hypocrisy.  Well, what do you want for your money?  You can always cut out more snowflakes.

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