I liked this new pope from the beginning, and for the weakest of all reasons. He looks a bit like my (deceased) maternal grandfather (who taught me to fish).
He (the Pope) has the habit of shooting from the hip which also delights Yours Truly but consternates and flummoxes the press. That nervous group has taken to parsing his words like a spiritualist examining tea leaves. The analogy is exact: both sets of folk believe they have unambiguously discerned in this spare evidence The Future, which curiously ever shines brightly.
Maybe the biggest effect came from the interview released a couple of days ago, which everybody is calling a blockbuster. Major news agencies the world over commented on it.
The New York Times reported, “Pope said exactly what our editorial board has been saying for years.” On the other hand, the Lost Angeles Times said, “Pope agrees with us.” Planned Parenthood issued a press release praising the Pope’s “stance” on abortion (PP’s Motto: “Abortion: Every Woman’s Birth-rite”).
And then there is the blogosphere which erupted in posts entitled, “Here’s what the Pope really said”, “He didn’t mean that but this,” and “Nothing to see here.” (Best compilation site for these is Big Pulpit, incidentally.)
No interpretation coming from the Briggs ranch; instead a link to the interview itself. Even if you’re not Catholic you should read it, because there are about a billion of us, a significant swath of humanity. Pays to pay attention to what that many people profess to believe. A Big Heart Open to God.
But to hold with tradition, I will cull just those quotes I think most important. And these are the Holy Father’s recommendations on what to read and listen to. Not only are these fantastic cultural “artifacts”, the Pope, being a frugal man, has picked works which cost little or no money.
Literature Dostoevsky (most of his books are free) and Hölderlin (Project Gutenberg has one, Archive a few, Amazon a few free, but you’ll have to go to your library for most). Pope Francis particularly recommended The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni (also free at Gutenberg). Cervantes (here free). El Cid.
Music “I love Mozart, of course. The ‘Et incarnatus est’ from his Mass in C minor is matchless; it lifts you to God!” This will take one hour of your time and will require something of you besides mere passivity. Coincidence with the painting?
Beethoven whose “most Promethean interpreter for me is Furtwängler” (here is the 5th). Bach (St Matthew’s; what else?). Wagner’s Ring “but not all the time” (here’s Furtwängler with the Prelude to Lohengrin).
Cinema Fellini’s La Strada (also free!).
We’ll let the man himself have the last word on what makes a “classic.”
Anyway, in general I love tragic artists, especially classical ones. There is a nice definition that Cervantes puts on the lips of the bachelor Carrasco to praise the story of Don Quixote: ‘Children have it in their hands, young people read it, adults understand it, the elderly praise it.’ For me this can be a good definition of the classics.
Update And here I thought I was joking. NARAL hilariously jumps the gun on Pope Francis “Thank You” card. The satirists job grows more difficult daily.