April 20th, 2005

fat pony like thunder

pass me my micky mouse gas mask

To distract us all from the dreadful new Pope (more about whom later today, when my stomach stops sinking every time I hear his name), here's an interview with Connie Willis*, author of some of my favourite books. I was very pleased to hear that her forthcoming new Oxford time travel novel is well underway, but I thought it was very funny that she said that she was writing about elements of the war which people hadn't really written about before. Like what? "Evacuated children....small town boat owners rescuing soldiers from Dunkirk..." The hell? I mean, I'm sure these subjects are less well known in the US, but considering I must have read about 50 books about evacuees as a child, and Dunkirk is well, Dunkirk, they're hardly untouched mysteries which Willis has just unearthed.

*Thanks to Kivrin on Chicklit for the link
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fat pony like thunder

once a catholic....

I'm surprised by how genuinely upset the appointment of Ratzinger (I can't bear to call him Benedict XVI) makes me. I've noticed that a lot of you seem to feel the same way. I'm not sure why the appointment of a leader of a Church that very few of us still consider ourselves part of affects us so much, but it does. I don't think that it's because we thought we'd go back to the Church some day, but maybe it's because somewhere we still feel a cultural identification with the idea of liberal Catholicism, with liberation theology and radical nuns, with the power of beautiful ritual and Latin hymns. Maybe that's why the appointment of Ratzinger feels like a slap in the face. Now, if there were any doubts, we know we can't ever go back.

Luckily, lots of others feel the same way. Here's the wonderful Frances Kissling, in an excellent Salon piece.
The good news is that Ratzinger is not John Paul II. No world leader owes him thanks for his role in the downfall of communism. It will take years for his papacy to achieve any potential political cache. The bad news is that he is Pope, and he was elected by two thirds or more of the princes of the church, who knew what they were doing.

I can no longer delude myself about these princes’ almost total lack of interest in healing the divide in the Church, in showing compassion for or even in listening to the voices of the suffering. The time for nuance is over. Let the unholy war begin.

And here's Salon writer Amy Sullivan:
The election of Ratzinger signals a decision to stick with the failed policies that have led millions of Catholics in the developing world to leave the church for Pentecostalism, and millions of western Catholics to simply leave religion altogether. The choice Ratzinger has posed -- between the tyranny of relativism or the triumph of orthodoxy -- is false. The church will continue to suffer for his lack of imagination.

I don't usually agree with Andrew Sullivan (no relation to the aforementioned Amy - I think), but I'm with him on this one:
Benedict has no pastoral experience, scant knowledge of the developing world, a terrible reputation in Europe as a full-bore reactionary, and no real comfort as an actor on the world stage. In other words, he offers all the drawbacks of JPII and none of the advantages. He does have an interesting mind. But the more deeply you read, the scarier it gets: He even backs a pre-modern view of the conscience, which holds that you can only have a good conscience if you agree with him.

I'd like to write more about Ratzinger and his particularly selective form of moral absolutism, but with typical erudition rozk (yet another former Catholic - why are there so many of us round here?) said it better than I could here. And l'll let the final word go to Jesuit writer James Martin:
I can only pray that Pope Benedict proves to be more tolerant and open-minded than Cardinal Ratzinger was.

Amen.
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    sad sad
crossness!

papa ratzi, again

Okay, this is my last word on Ratzinger. I just read the comments about his election on the BBC news site (I went to the Radio 4 page to listen to yesterday's Archers, and there was a link), and lo and behold, lots of smug idiots keep saying stuff like this:


Historic Catholic teachings and the Gospels state clearly what Catholics should believe and follow. Just because Benedict XVI is reverting to original Catholic teachings does not make him conservative, it just makes him true to Catholicism. If people are unhappy with this they should change religion.


Have these morons any sense of historical perspective? Apart from the fact the Gospels make no reference to contraception, abortion or homosexuality (although they do have something to say about living in luxury, Pope "I am a Humble Worker - That's Why I Am Wearing These Golden Robes" Benedict), THE CATHOLIC CHURCH HAS CHANGED A LOT. Jesus, everything isn't written in stone. In Church terms, Vatican II was a much more radical move than even lifting the contraception ban (and let's not even get into the fact that some of the early church fathers, like Augustine, actually considered the foetus to be "vegetative" - hardly proponents of the idea that life begins at conception). Vatican II threw out lots of historical Catholic teachings, and guess what? People got used to it pretty fucking quickly. I hate this smug and ignorant assumption that a misogynistic fundamentalist who wants to ignore the very idea of progression is somehow some sort of super-Catholic. The Church has changed its views on many things over the years, and to pretend that everything was exactly the same for two millenia until some crazy liberals started making a fuss is insulting and just plain stupid.
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    still appalled