To choose to listen

The Roman Catholics this week are choosing a pope, to replace the one who traveled the world talking to people.

Perhaps this time they might do well to choose a man who travels the world listening to people.

If there is any meaning at all in the Christian message (and because you are sure to wonder, Does Laurie King see any meaning? and because the answer colors what I have to say here, I will say yes, I find the Christian message at times difficult, but powerful), that meaning and authority must lie in the concept of Jesus of Nazareth as a conduit between humanity and the Divine. Those who pray to Jesus to save them are missing the point, that one can only ask Jesus to listen, and understand, because he too has been here, frightened, in pain, and despairing. This role of divine sympathizer was later largely transferred to Mary’s shoulders, but the essential Christianity has the carpenter’e2’80’99s son in that position.

He preached, he scolded, he raged, but by God he listened. Perhaps the world’e2’80’99s most powerful religion might try a holy man this time, who knows how to listen as well.

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  1. Cornelia on April 14, 2005 at 1:38 pm

    When there are all the saints listening, why should the pope worry to do the same?

  2. librarian on April 14, 2005 at 4:25 pm

    It’s not the listening. Pope John Paul heard everything said to him, I’m sure. It’s established dogma that ties any Pope’s hands. I don’t expect that to change in my lifetime… probably never.

  3. Sara on April 14, 2005 at 4:45 pm

    To Laurie’s words, “hear, hear!”

    I will say there is a difference between hearing and listening. I believe John Paul heard, but he did not listen.

    I am in the process of becoming Anglican- I have never been a Christian so it is a big step for me. But like Maya Angelou, I will allow no one to take my God from me.


  4. R.J. Anderson on April 14, 2005 at 4:52 pm

    Agreed with all your comments except one: Those who pray to Jesus to save them are missing the point.

    Peter didn’t seem to think so, especially when he was in imminent danger of drowning — “Lord, save me!” has to be one of the most concise prayers in the New Testament. 🙂 And Christ Himself said “The Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.”

    Is there really a conflict between trusting in Jesus as Saviour and regarding Him as One who “is touched with the feeling of our infirmities” and who will listen, understand and care? I don’t see one myself…

  5. Erin on April 14, 2005 at 9:16 pm

    I don’t think any religious person, no matter their status within the religion, is truly capable of listening when it comes to things they associate with their religion and beliefs. There is always either judgement or persuasion on their minds when they are speaking to people, even if they are not actively judging or trying to convert.

    The problem is that people feel the need to have everyone believe the same things they do and thus they can never really listen to what others are saying. They are always trying to figure out if what they are hearing coincides with what they believe.

  6. wimindance on April 14, 2005 at 10:26 pm

    Let it be so.

    I sit here, typing with one hand, holding my ten-week-old son in my other arm, hoping the next pope, the next president, the next world leader, listens and will not ask for any son as a sacrifice to Moloch.

  7. Pen on April 15, 2005 at 7:46 am

    Isn’t it about time that some of the vast wealth of the Catholic Church in Rome was used for the good of those poor people (especially women) in the so-called “third world”? Those who are dying of AIDS because of Catholic dogma over condoms; dying because of the ban on contraception; children who are being abused by priests who are shielded from prosecution by the RC Church?

  8. 2maple on April 15, 2005 at 1:20 pm

    This sort of begs the question that, if a religion is at odds with the culture and doesn’e2’80’99t adapt, does it become something akin to an evolutionary dead end?

    In our area the Catholic Church just announced a reorganization of parishes in to groups because they don’e2’80’99t have enough priests’e2’80’a6hmmm, seems to me, that an organization like this without enough local leadership will find it difficult to survive without change.

  9. Jamie on April 15, 2005 at 6:28 pm

    I am not Catholic…I am only 21, so JP2 was the only pope I have ever know…and even then, until a few years ago, I didn’t even know what the purpose of a pope was. I was raised Christian. In a very open church that let us explore the bible in our own way. We also explored other religions.

    JP2 was open to other religions in a public scene. He visited a Jewish Temple and a Islamic Mosque
    Maybe he wasn’e2’80’99t trying to listen, maybe he was just trying to lead…to unite other religions. Helping us brace the differences instead of fight over them. He, unlike our Commander and Chief, was not going around the world on a crusade, he was going to learn, and to help us learn.

    That’s what I think…once again 3 hours of sleep in 3 days…my view might be a little off right now 😉
    PS- It’e2’80’99s depressing, but even as an Arabic Linguist, I had to spell check the work Mosque’e2’80’a6I can spell it in Arabic, I promise!

  10. mattiemayson on April 16, 2005 at 1:23 am

    I don’t think what’s important is listening, I think what’s important is hearing.

    You can listen and listen, but unless you’ve made up your mind to really put yourself in the shoes of another, no good will be accomplished.

    This was where John-Paul failed. He listened- he just didn’t hear, about issues like birth control, condoms, the sexual-abuse scandals in the church, and the fact that young men nowdays simply don’t want to become priests (if it means sacrificing themselves on the altar of chastity and lonliness.)

    My own father spent 2 years in seminary prepping to be a priest, when he either met someone who changed his mind about it, or decided seriously that God wanted him to have a family. Either way, I owe my life to this decision, and I consider it a good one.

    A close friend of mine, Vince, graduated from high school in 1998, and we had a couple serious decisions about the priesthood. It was closed to me, of course, because I’m a girl, but he considered it. Like my father, he ultimately decided that he needed for his own sanity, was to allow himself the freedom to find happiness in a union with another person.

    I disagree with librarian when she said that “established dogma ties any Pope’s hands.” No… a pope shapes dogma through decision. Vatican II wasn’t introduced through divine intervention, handing down tablets to the Pope from on high. It was a concious decision to modernize the church to what was modern in the 1960’s… and to a large extent, it worked.

    Unfortunately, Vatican II didn’t address the things that put the Catholic Church at great peril today- and when you consider the fact that any new pope elected is likely to be over 60 years old, I have little hope (or faith) that much will change.

    Tying this into what I first said, John-Paul didn’t take the time or initiative to hear what was the problem in South Africa. When told that the percentage of AIDS and HIV victims was on a phenomenal rise there, due to lack of contraception use and rape, he simply repeated that AIDS would not BE a problem if people only had sex within the confines of marriage or else they abstained. Which leads me to wonder what would be his answer to a baby, contracting HIV, who was raped in the mistaken South African belief that having intercourse with a virgin will make you invincible to AIDS. Really, was it the toddler’s fault to tell his/her attacker that “no means no” and he/she is saving virginity for marrige?!

    It’s this blindness that ensures Catholic Church will continue its long, slow decent into uselessness, a modern dinosaur of religion. I was born and raised Catholic, which is why I see fit to criticise so openly, but I see no problem with this. However, I do feel a sadness that a beautiful religion with eons of tradition will go this route.

  11. Anonymous on April 18, 2005 at 6:41 pm

    I really don’e2’80’99t want to write this, but it feels as if I ought to, or something like that, and my English is getting worse, well so is my Spanish for that matter!.
    You see I met him, JP2, I met him when he was here for a week, he was listening aright he did wonders for us in just a week, but then, of course, we have different problems here.
    I can said this, there was a mind behind the carcass, he was a man of a very strong will, and the people around him loved him, that said a lot to me. I did like him, even if I didn’e2’80’99t share some of his views. He was a good man, and I’e2’80’99m sorry that he died, but then, maybe it was the best for him.
    I have being surrounded by nuns and priests and the like, for quite a lot of my life, but that has never clouded my ability to think for myself, I have put my liberty and my life at stake for them, but not once, I have let them do my thinking.
    I’e2’80’99m not a very good catholic, I’e2’80’99m even married to a communist, but God gave me freedom and I love to exercise it! I think that’e2’80’99s important.
    The next pope? I only hope he is a good man.

    Warm, sandy, Caribbean beaches.

  12. the good witch of Mary Tavy on April 20, 2005 at 4:37 am

    Today we have a pope! It looks like nothing will change, since Cardinal Ratzinger, sorry Benedict XVI, will be following in John Paul II’s footsteps.

    I was amused by the comments of a woman in NYC — “It doesn’t matter what the Pope does, we Americans do as we please.” Not an exact quote, but that was her meaning.

  13. mattiemayson on April 20, 2005 at 7:54 pm

    “We Americans do as we please.”

    Which is why we’ll most likely have a schism, large or small, between the American Catholic Church and the Roman one in less than 50 years.

    America is one of the few countries where individual legal rights override the rights of established institutions, i.e. the Catholic Church, and when a scandal comes up- and Rome says “hush it up”, they can’t understand why the American Catholic Church doesn’t just pull strings and silence those kids.

    Thank god for litigation. It may be a monster, but a necessary one.

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