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Archive for April 8th, 2011

The Unmercenary Pope

My recent article Mercenaries and Mendicants got a lot of comments, both positive and negative. Among the criticisms, I was taken to task for my disapproval of the Catholic celebrity cult, and for criticizing preachers who preach for profit. It was pointed out that John Paul II was himself something of a superstar.

This is true to a degree, and is for that matter quite understandable. He was a man of unusual personal charisma and talent, photogenic, and in his younger days as pope quite handsome. Indeed, sometimes devotion to the person of the late pope bordered on the unhealthy.

On the other hand, I saw  John Paul three times, and kissed his ring once, right after the above photo was taken, over twenty years ago (I am third from the right). But I never paid money for a ticket to see him. I never would have gone to see him the first time, which triggered my return to the Church, if there had been an admission charge. (Read the story here: https://caelumetterra.wordpress.com/2005/06/05/encountering-john-paul/)

If he had wanted money I would have considered him a phony based on this alone.

This is a curious thing, this selling of tickets to hear the gospel preached. None of the great preachers of our history charged money; they were sent to proclaim the good news, not to the affluent, but to the poor. Mercenary preaching  is wholly a modern development. Insofar as I know not even  the most cartoonish of Protestant televangelists has done this, and their sometimes considerable wealth comes from freewill donations that they collect.

How is it that modern Catholics have allowed this to happen? Are the lines between edification and entertainment so blurred that we are willing to pay for either indiscriminately?

The late pope may have been a superstar, but he was no mercenary. He lived simply in his personal life, and he would not have dreamed of charging money to hear him preach, let alone of cashing  in as the CEO of a for-profit company.

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Ah, red pepper flakes, the Holy Spirit of the food world, bringing new life to everything they touch, transfiguring the blandest dish into something bold and fiery!

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Localism offers hope in these dark times; a must-see film:

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A Labor Primer

In the early 1980s Ricardo Levins Morales, an artist and labor activist in Minneapolis designed a bumper sticker with a simple eight-word message, “From the people who brought you the weekend. ” Since then, he’s sold tens of thousands. In 2007 Ricardo told National Public Radio he often found people “squinting with puzzled looks at the stickers.” “For people who are not steeped in labor history,” he added, “it might take a few minutes to figure out what on earth they are talking about” because most people think the weekend has always been here, “like the weather.”

No Virginia, the weekend has not always been here. At the end of the 19th century men, women and children often worked 10 to 16 hour days, seven days a week. The weekend, along with the 8-hour day, rest breaks, decent wages and working conditions were gained only over decades, and at great human cost. And the vehicle used to win these advances was the union.

Read the rest: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-morris/when-unions-are-strong-am_b_846802.html

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Miraculous icons of the Holy Mountain: http://www.mountathos.gr/active.aspx?mode=en{00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000005}View

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