A Value of a Sickly Pope and 5 Other Thoughts

1) Over at his new blog, David Mills (who appears to be having quite a jolly time of it, over here, and we had him first!) responds to Marc Barnes’ notion that Popes should resign more often.

Writes Mills:

I agree with everything he says, with one qualification: It would also be a good thing, a thing in the proper order, for a pope to continue as pope till he died, even if he suffers years of declining ability. . . His public endurance of suffering might be a needed witness, or the Church might need a break from an active and public pope, or the tendency for resignation to become expected should be denied, or the fact that the papacy is a calling and not simply a job should be made dramatically clear. Or other reasons I haven’t thought of.

I concur with both men, and particularly with Mills’ observation that suffering might be (I would say “is surely”) a needed witness all of our sakes, but I have thought of another reason for David: Yes, a pope who serves his calling even through debilitating illness demonstrates the intrinsic worth of a human being, even in diminished capacities. But he also gives us a much more fundamental lesson that — if we could only internalize it — would render such instruction moot and unnecessary.

In the weeks before his death, Pope John Paul II could no longer speak to the crowds, so he just stood there at the balcony, and looked upon them in silent love, and he let them love him back. To love, and to allow oneself to be loved, is the simplest of exchanges and yet it’s the one for which we often need the most instruction. A weeks-old baby and her parent can manage it effortlessly and with full eye contact, but as we grow older, we understand that love makes us naked, and nakedness makes us vulnerable, and then it becomes difficult to see or be seen.

As I wrote in my book,
we are indeed, forever-and-always in Eden, still struggling to learn the basics about love and God and ourselves.

2) Somewhat related: When the Pope tells you “you’re not God” believe him.

3) Over at Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds excerpts an important part of Jonathan Turley’s thoughtful look at government agencies stretching their boundaries. Here’s what struck me:

Historically, the IRS adopted a neutral rule that avoided not-for-profit determinations based on the content of organizations’ beliefs and practices. Then, in 1970, came the Bob Jones University case. The IRS withdrew the tax-exempt status from the religious institution because of its rule against interracial dating on campus. The Supreme Court affirmed in 1983 that the IRS could yank tax exemption whenever it decided that an organization is behaving “contrary to established public policy” — whatever that public policy may be. Bob Jones had to choose between financial ruin and conforming its religious practices. It did the latter. . . .

Yeah, yeah, we all hate Bob Jones University because they’re a bunch of bigots so they got what they deserved and made their decision accordingly, right?

Well, late last week the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to redefine marriage as involving “two persons”. With this vote they join six other churches or religious movements willing to perform same-sex marriages. The Episcopals will not be very far behind, I don’t think.

Since the IRS can determine tax-exemptions based on whether organizations are “contrary to established public policy”, I suspect it will not be long before those churches determined to heed Jesus’ words over the times and trends will find their obstinate traditions deemed so contrary and will start paying through the nose for the privilege of exercising their first amendment right to be themselves.

“Be yourself” is still a thing, right?

4) Apparently Barack Obama’s approval rating
has sunk to new lows. I hadn’t realized it because I was waiting for the nightly news broadcasts to open with the president’s sinking poll numbers, as they always did with Bush. But then, I just remembered, I don’t watch news broadcasts anymore. So, if they’re actually doing that, I’ve missed it.

5) Interesting to ponder what Obama’s numbers might be if the full attention of the press were brought to bear on the absolute travesty of a BS miracle story that the IRS is pedaling to us. Right now it seems only Ron Fournier and Ed Morrissey and Kim Strassel are curious enough to even mention it.

The rest is silence.

6) Let’s round it out with a turn back to Instapundit. Tim Muldoon breaks a new report on a culture of vocations on college campuses, the idea of vocations made me think of vows of poverty, and that made me think of how broke my son and all of his friends are, due to student loans, and that made me think of Reynold’s really excellent book, The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself, which I reviewed here with a rave. Still highly recommend it. Put it on your summer reading list!

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About Elizabeth Scalia