Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Pope Bites Dog!

After his speech Pope Benedict taped the latest episode of Pontiffs & Tiaras
On Friday, December 21, a wrinkly, delusional white man delivered a speech in which he tried to stem the tide of history with arguments based on fear and the kind of warped logic usually used by 10-year-olds to settle playground disputes. Oh, and some guy from the NRA had something to say, too.

Yes, Pope Benedict will be in an ugly papal sulk for a while because his state of the Catholic nation speech was kicked to the back pages by Wayne LaPierre's star turn for the NRA in Washington. The pope's speech was essentially a call to arms against gay marriage. Now, the Pope speaking out against gay marriage is just about as predictable as, say, the head of the NRA standing firm against proposals for gun control. As any politician would put it, they're simply appealing to their base. What was fascinating about the Pope's broadside was that he indicated an interest in cooperating with other faiths in the campaign against gay marriage. Really? And thus we get an object lesson in how the reactionary mind works in the endgame phase of a shift in a society's mores: resort to hysteria and ally yourself with anyone or anything that will buttress your cause.

The logic of monotheism dictates that the pope should be devoting his energies to either converting or castigating those of other faiths. At the very least you'd think he'd be more interested in battling secularism and atheism. But the papacy hasn't been up for a big challenge since the Crusades, and so they've reached a point where the dragon they've chosen to slay is a subset of a very small minority group. The fact that Benedict is willing to ally with other religions is the smoking gun proof of his hysteria and the bankruptcy of his ideas. His medieval predecessors would have roasted him on a spit for the heresy of cooperating with rabbis and mullahs. They might also have taken him aside and told him, sotto voce, that gay men and women should be directed towards a life in the Church, which is where families often sent children who seemed a bit different from the rest.

This kind of hysterical tilting at windmills often occurs when an elitist, hermetically-isolated institution begins to feel the winds of change. The USSR waged a low grade war against the intrusion of Western pop music in the 1970s; the Tea Party is the Republican Party's bug-eyed reaction to a non-white president; China got completely draconian when faced with the Falun Gong, a tepid quasi-religion; and the imprisonment of Pussy Riot shows how tight-assed Putin's Russia is when faced with the slightest criticism. It would seem that the more a regime realizes that it doesn't have a legitimate claim to power, or is due to exit stage right from the stage of history, the more likely it is to become a terrified bully, seeing dangerous mountains where there are only molehills.

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