In Which Not Everything Is A Democracy

6 April 2005

Lots of things have bothered me about the coverage of the death of Pope John Paul II. I'm not going to go into all of them here. I just want to say that, first, even Catholics believe that the Pope was a sinful human being like the rest of us, and behaving otherwise is pretty offensive. The Pope had a confessor. Why? For confessing his sins. Because he was not perfect.

Second, I'm extremely disturbed at the number of people who confuse "shifts with the wind" and "changes with the facts." Fixity and changeability are not in themselves virtues or vices. They're just traits. Treating small, human, earthly policies as eternal is extremely dangerous. I said this in a different context elsewhere yesterday: sometimes when you question the status quo, the answer is going to be, yes, that was there for a good reason; other times the answer will be, no, that was an artifact of a different circumstance completely, or it was just a bad choice. Claiming that something is the way things "have always" been speaks neither for nor against it. (Using the term "always" to mean "since approximately 1955" is really annoying, though, and I wish people would stop.)

I'm also confused at the polls I've been reading that say things like, "X% of Americans and Y% of American Catholics believe that the Catholic church should ordain women." Umm...that's an internal issue. Why are they even asking the rest of us? Why should anybody care if J. Random Non-Catholic thinks that they should ordain women, gay people, married people, robots, or blue-skinned aliens? It's not our religion! I can say that I believe Jesus' teachings are consistent with the ordination of women; I can outline the reasons why I personally would not, at this point in history, belong to a religion that did not ordain women. But the Roman church is under no obligation to listen to me, and since there's absolutely nothing I can think of that would convert me to that religion, I can't really think of why they should particularly want to. If I make a good point, okay, but I make a lot of points on a lot of topics, and I think most of them allow that church body to go along its merry doctrinal way without me.

Sometimes X% of Americans believe something for a good reason, and it's good to listen to that reason. But the existence of X% of them doesn't make it a better or a worse reason to change one's mind on it.

I'm currently reading Ellis Peters's The Hermit of Eyton Forest and also some of a friend's book, and I'm working on "Singing Them Back," which I have owed Elise for lo these many moons. I'm not sure how fast it'll come together, but it's coming together, anyway, and I don't think the fact that Thermionic Night is off my desk for awhile is entirely unrelated there.

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