Monday, February 11, 2013

The Catholic Billy Graham

Amazing the similarities, and between the two in the picture,too
Billy Graham has been called the Protestant Pope.  Well, there is some truth to that.  No Protestant or Evangelical worth his or her salt would say Graham was anything but a humble sinner.  We're all sinners after all. Called to minister to the sick not healthy.  In fact, if you sat in a Protestant church c. 1990s and said you thought Graham was perfect, if you were a pastor, you'd be looking for a new church to serve.

And yet, if you were to in any way critique or suggest somehow that Graham had failed in any way...BAM!  You'd get your rectum chewed out and chewed out in quick order.  Even if you quoted Graham himself in one of his later appraisals of his own early ministry strategies in order to make a broader point, you could expect to be pinned against the wall of the church foyer for an hour fighting for your life.  Sort of sounds like I speak from experience, don't it.

Now, Pope Benedict XVI resigned today.  Caught everyone off guard.  When that happens, expect crappy reporting from the News Media since they haven't had time to work on the 24 hour news cycle worth of prepackaged stories.  What you'll get is a mad dash to find anyone who has even heard there's a Pope, and have them rush in and give their two cents.  So what you'll see is everyone finding someone to say what they hope fits with what they already believe about Pope Benedict specifically, and Catholicism in general.  For the more conservative side: perhaps a good guy overall but flawed; For the liberal side: a fellow besieged by scandal, making way for the possibly ascension of a liberal progressive.

Now, what will happen on the Catholic side will be three probable responses.  One will come with those who align themselves to various extra-church ideologies, and will judge Benedict according to those ideologies (OK, but wrong on Iraq/fine but needed to get hip with the gay marriage times).  The second group will be those who take a long, honest look at things to the best of their ability. Don't expect to hear much from them.  They'll be busy doing their homework, far too busy to be interviewed or rush to comb their hair for the cameras.

And then you'll have that third group, the group I was thinking of when I typed the post title.  They're the ones who seem to relish the Internet world of strange and obscure language that is non-committal and yet definite in its purpose.  I posted on one manifestation of this a while back.  They will be the last - and I mean last - to say the Pope is perfect, flawless, always right, whatever.  They may have pointed out things that they thought he was less than stellar over the last few years.  And yet, well, you can see where it's going.  Do so much as suggest, even for the slightest minute, that Benedict might not actually deserve to become honorary fourth member of the Holy Trinity and...BAM!  Get some extra underwear out of the closet.

So I'm going to sit back, watch the latest season of The Walking Dead (don't even ask - I've never even liked zombie movies), and wait for things to settle.  Then the folks with something to say will probably come out and suggest what is most likely true: a good man in a difficult time in the Church's life, a brilliant theologian with weaknesses, perhaps in administration, who did the best he could and helped the Church in many ways, while struggling with other endeavors.  Or something like it.  We'll see.  But as for me and my house, we'll also wait.

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