Taking the Kid Gloves Off With Francis’s Street Cred: Poetic Justice

So much depends on true democracy being allowed to broaden, deepen, and flourish in the economic sphere. That is one of the things that concerns me about Pope Francis, whom I admire in many ways. He shows great concern for the poor but does not link this with how laws currently pass or don’t pass, the role of the unelected judiciary that keeps constitutional interpretation in the U.S. locked in the past and doing the bidding of capital, and the lack of a democratic global institution accessible directly by the people in search of rights. I published this post earlier this week at my Galtisalie blog at Daily Kos because of these concerns, as well as emerging events in Spain threatening women’s right to control their own bodies. I hope that it is taken for the constructive criticism in the spirit of George Orwell in which it is intended. It was written not to insult Pope Francis but to hold him to the highest standard, which he should demand from himself on behalf of the one he follows. This standard is more exacting than promotion of the interests of any institution, including the so-called “Church.” If the Church is “the body of Christ” comprised of “Christians,” that body should be willing to sacrifice itself to create “earth as it is in heaven” and trust that it will be resurrected to the greater glory.


Brother Francisco


From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded. (Luke 12:48, NRSVCE)

I’m glad a global wealth tax has Jesus’s endorsement. But that is just for starters. Jesus reportedly was so socio-economically demanding that his most renowned sermon, on the mount, is some debatable combination of hyperbolic and literal impossible challenges but most certainly liberating and a rejection of any unjust status quo. If it is intended to put pressure on the low and unholy, take me for instance, how much more is expected from someone whose followers claim him to be Vicarius Christi. I am both a struggling Christian contemplative by intuitive spiritual necessity fitfully pursuing a quiet interior life and a leftist who, to use Thomas Merton’s words (Seeds of Destruction, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1964) feels obliged to make himself part of the sacrificing “we”–“We must dare to pay the dolorous price of change, to grow into a new society. Nothing else will suffice!”–but scratches his head how to do this but has to try the best he can anyway. As much as I want inner peace my confused interior life is no more important than my confused exterior life. I am responsible for my action and inaction each day within a given capitalist context I seek to change for the betterment of all, if I can figure out how, and meanwhile I am trying to at least take a spoonful of this or that to the poor and their allies in the global pit of human despair, aka, hell on earth, aka, the OPPOSITE of “earth as it is in heaven.” Would that I could move mountains, or at least a Congressional vote or two, that would be love that counts, the greatest of all of these Christian notions. (Meanwhile, why did I grow up in Christian fundamentalism where not cussing, not lusting, and especially not lusting after someone of the same gender, and “patriotism” seemed to be the paramount goals? What “Christian” leaders allowed that to happen? What are the roots of this navel gazing, private part fixation, and Constantinianism?) Continue reading

Mother’s Day and Humane Cat Herding–Know Our Rights and Fights!

“Happy Mother’s Day” in many countries in the world. Hopefully you did not have to prepare a hormone-laden turkey dinner for eleven as in Rockwell’s “Freedom from Want” painting. I’m not an art critic, so no problem with his Thomas Kinkade style, but I never liked the composition of the painting, and now I pretty much hate it–its unchallenging paternalism, the grins, particularly of the younger men, the bourgeois crystal, linen, “silvah,” and china, unh-unh–it did not strike me as, shall we say, reflective of the seriousness of the challenge of resolving hunger in most of the world, or even of “coming out of” the Depression in the U.S. with a fledgling of a welfare state. What an incredible cultural missed opportunity to educate Amurrricans. On the other hand, we have to know our fights, and “our” rights will be met or unmet on tables both alike and unlike this one, and maybe we should suppose that those young men might indeed be overjoyed with the first feast they have had ever or in a long time. IMHO, best not to get too picky with our potential political allies in such matters. So, Norman, if you’re up there, hope you don’t mind my imaginative doctorin’; you did some good popularizing work on human decency, but in this case, thanks for nothing. I sort of love that, according to the most trusted name in news, in 1948 you voted for another Norman, Thomas, but you soon fell off that wagon (and by voting for him you in a tiny way almost helped throw the election to another Thomas, Dewey, and because I am a pragmatist on the left wing of the possible, I would not have liked to see that happen). I will not be holding any candles in your late afternoon-glow honor.

I will try to be at least a little more pro-system change in this diary than a Rockwell painting. This has turned into a socialized Mother’s Day wish directed equally to men and women–not to deprive mothers of deserved praise but in hope of one day achieving a world that will bring all women, and children and men too, freedom from want and fear, if not an occasional huge Butterball. If we want to achieve such a world we must first recognize the clear moral justification for it, something Rockwell completely missed, undoubtedly on purpose, and for that he is morally accountable in my accounting. This moral justification is the underpinning for “rights,” not hoped-for Thanksgiving Day bounty. However, “visualizing” our rights to freedom from want and fear, while incredibly important, is obviously not the same thing as “achieving” it. This diary is also about pursuing the most efficient and peaceful path to such a world. To be as efficient and peaceful as possible on the journey to a just and loving world, we need to know our fights as well as our rights. As many people as possible need to learn about humane “cat herding.” Continue reading