Pope Francis and I are in a Vulcan Mind Meld!

We’ve joked that our new Pontiff and I seem to be enjoying an unusual bit of synchonicity on the issue of idolatry. In his wonderful talks and homilies he touches frequently on the issue, enough so that Brandon Vogt — the hardly sleeping and inventive Brandon Vogt — took the time to create this amusing photoshop for me:

Here’s Pope Francis this morning:

“The worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly human goal,” Francis told the ambassadors.

His Holiness had interesting things to say about how the pursuit of money can become a tyrannical disregard for human beings except as a means to more — and he is quite right. But I have idols and idolatry on the brain, just now, so his mentioning the golden calf jumped out at me.

But it appears our Holy Father has been pondering idols and all the ways we disconnect ourselves from God, for a while. A Dominican sister recently sent me this video from about 8 months ago — while he was still Cardinal Bergoglio — wherein (at about 1:30) he touches idolatry:

“The pope often speaks of attitudes that, in their essence, are idolatrous such as relativism; narcissism; consumerism. They are completely foreign to worship of the true God, therefore they are idolatrous, attitudes, right? And in today’s society, new idols are continuously established and driven by consumerism, isn’t that true? There is where people get hooked! Indeed, there is a strong need to renew the faith; to pray the creed with our hearts; to say ‘I believe in Jesus.’ In a similar way, the pope teaches us what St. Paul told Timothy: ‘remember Jesus Christ.’ So in this year, remember Jesus Christ. Renew the faith; revitalize it. Only Jesus provides the answer to this rampant idolatry, and he reigns from the cross. If we deny the cross of Jesus, we deny Jesus.”

The pope goes on to talk about paganism and pantheism. He talks of idolatry as a caricature of love — (I bring that up in my book, too! Mind meld!) — while children are dying of hunger and are in need of real love. “First cosmetics, and then if something is left, we throw it toward the children…”

It’s really an excellent little interview out of EWTN, and I urge you to take the fifteen minutes to watch it.

YouTube Preview Image

More Pope Francis on Idols and Idolatry:
“we risk slipping into idolatry…”
“Satan always rips us off…”
Audience, May 15, 2013

You can read an excerpt from Chapter One of my book here, and a few first reviews here and here. I am very grateful (and appreciative that Dorian Speed has called the last chapter “hilarious”) and more humbled and terrified than I can express.

About Elizabeth Scalia
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  • http://inspiredangela.wordpress.com/ Angela Sealana

    Idols on the brain!! Methinks the Holy Spirit is sending us a message…

  • Win Nelson

    Brava, Elizabeth!

  • Irenic

    Love how His Holiness slips into a 13th Century midrash. And the maritime theme: Hope is an “anchor” to be discarded when we reach shore. Charity on the other hand, is permanent. Bricks and straw. Babylon, the eurozone. Fiscal austerity. Quantitative easing. Deflationary pressures. The loss of values. Costumes we wear when we don’t have the beauty of God. Theological virtue as “pure grace”. Grace versus pelagianism. Relativism.

    Note: According to market research reports by Luncintel, the global beauty care industry will hit USD 265 billion by 2017. Transparency Market Research on the other hand put the global pet food market at USD 58.6 billion in 2011, a figure that is expected to rise to USD 74.8 billion by 2017. Lord, have mercy.

  • Charlie Balsam

    I got your book as a birthday gift from my brother. Smile. I think he knows how much I appreciate your writing and insights.

  • Win Nelson

    Thank you. Now I have had time to watch the video and the Pope does challenge us deeply, as does your wonderful book, by the way. I’ve already sent your book to a friend who is a priest, as he was excited by it when I offered him my copy.

    I expect the Pope will not be popular with families with beloved pets, but it’s not his job to tell us what we want to hear. I like to think that I am not caught up in consumerism, but when the Pope was speaking, I was cringing at all of the gourmet coffee I have.

    I also loved his emphasis that in prayer, we ought to focus on praise, not asking or thanksgiving.

  • TMJC

    It is funny, but as I am reading the comments my eye keeps being drawn to the continual feed from Viewster in the column beside the comm box: a trailer for the Dark Knight trilogy has been interrupted by commercials for a hair removal product that proclaims “What Beauty Feels Like”, a detergent commercial featuring a neighbourhood full of naked people who have chosen to be naked so they don’t have to get their expensive and beautiful clothing soiled, a pet food commerical asking the question: shouldn’t we care enough to give them the very best (?), and a lawn food (!!! I know a man who hasn’t had a meal in two days, but shouldn’t we care enough to give our lawns the best food we can? *sigh*) commercial – all of this interrupting Bruce Wayne trying to anonymously protect and ressurect a city destroying itself.
    I just received your new book in the mail. Ms. Scalia. After opening the package, I started reading the introduction at the mailbox and ended up wanting to stay home from work to finish it! Thank you, also, for posting the Pope Francis clip. I have been looking for it everywhere.

  • MeanLizzie

    Yes, I actually bring that up in the final chapter of my book…the freezerful of gourmet coffee…

  • MeanLizzie

    I’m glad I could help you w/ the clip, and that you’re enjoying the book.

  • Ajax

    I’m afraid I had the direct opposite reaction to The Telegraph article “Pope Francis urges global leaders to end ‘tyranny’ of money”.

    I reacted with horror when he said, ” free-market capitalism had created a “tyranny” and “Countries should impose more control over their economies” and “Unchecked capitalism had created “a new, invisible, and at times virtual,

    Free market economies have vastly improved the lives of more people than any other system on the planet ever – if that’s what he’s interested in. That’s a simple historical fact.

    Politically imposed controls – Like the Soviet Union, Cuba, Venezuela, China, Argentina, etc? Those countries have minute fabulously rich, fabulously powerful elites and masses and masses of abject powerless poor.

    Unchecked capitalism – Please point out where this exists or has existed anywhere on the planet at any time. This idea is an imaginary leftist boogeyman.

    He may be a sweet man who cares for the poor, but his thinking seems a bit murky. If he’s talking mostly about the financial crises in Europe and Argentina he’s horribly mistaken about the causes. The political economies of Europe and Argentina have had precious little to do with free market anything for decades and decades. They are and have been closer to the command economies he’s calling for. He wants more of the same, yet dislikes the result.

    Have I misunderstood the man?

  • MeanLizzie

    In a way, perhaps yes. Catholicism warms against unbridled capitalism and doesn’t like compelled socialism, either. As Chesterton implied, Capitalism is the best of imperfect economic theories, as all theories are imperfect because of the unpredictable factor, which is the human heart. Far from being a “leftist boogeyman” unchecked capitalism DOES exist, and DOES sometimes abuse the dignity of the human person — this is one reason why unions came into being and (for a while, until they themselves became forces for greed) were necessary. Francis is pointing out that capitalism (like socialism) can become a theory that becomes an idol, as can excessive consumerism or, conversely the excessive controls of socialism. It’s all about balance. He is essentially telling us to guard our hearts and souls toward the temptations that any of these systems offer.

  • ck

    I, too, saw the variety of articles “based on” what he supposedly said and was a bit stymied. After a bit of sleuthing, here is a link to his own words in his address (if The Anchoress will allow it) What he said makes more sense in the full context of the address. http://tinyurl.com/akrhbxa