Pope Francis continues to amaze people by putting Christ back into Christianity.
I am going to stay as far away as temptation allows from getting into religious doctrinal disputes. They are the forbidden fruit of our church-state separated democratic polity. But let me just say as a distant but not entirely disinterested observer that it was pretty amazing to me, in the pre-Francis era, how completely upside-down and opposite certain religious organizations’ areas of focus were from their stated precepts. Religions say they are about believing things you can’t see. I would look at them and could not believe what I WAS seeing.
Now everybody is abuzz about Francis, but I want to push the discussion way way out on the same limb I pushed it out onto before. A month or so ago I wrote a post predicting his papacy marked the beginning of the end of fundamentalism in the world. Yowsa! I feel like doubling down on that today. Why? Because one of my guiding ideas (another Toles’ Law for you archivists!) is that no trend line goes in the same direction forever. Of course it’s impossible to predict turns because ‘not forever’ can contain a whole lotta ‘in the meantime’. But really, the amount of appeal in a constricted, narrow, dogmatic, evidence-blind worldview, while considerable, is far from unlimited. And after the suffocation and not infrequently bloody mess that fundamentalist thinking has chalked up for itself, how much appeal does it have left? Either the political kind, or the marketplace kind. Love, for all its limitations, is starting to look mighty appealing again. And a powerful example, at the right time and right place, can be a transformative thing. Amen.