The “Savvy” “Apolitical” Pope & Dingbat “Experts”
In today’s NYTimes (09-28-2015, the front-page article on the pope’s visit quotes a so-called expert in “Catholic Studies”:
<< “I was frankly taken aback at how savvy [pope Francis] was,” said Stephen Schneck, the director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America. “He was clearly aware of all the very divisive issues for Catholics in American public life but talked about them in a way that didn’t give ammunition to either conservatives or progressives in the United States to use in their political wars.” >>
Now hold it right there. Somebody send this bozo a clue, and links to the definitions of “savvy,” “conservative,” & “progressive.”
When the pope names & highlights Dorothy Day & Thomas Merton before an enormous national audience, he is being “savvy” for sure. But not “progressive”? Is thee freekin kidding me??
Sure, both Merton & Day were devout Catholics. And neither were very “hip” (tho both had been Bohemians in their younger days.) But they were also blatant RADICALS. Social, political, economic radicals, and activists too –Merton practically invented his kind of monastic activism, and Dorothy Day got arrested numerous times for civil disobedience against the arms race, for farm workers unions, civil rights etc.
Safe, innocuous middle-of-the-roaders??? I don’t frackin think so; and what kind of “Catholic intellectual” in 2015 could say such blatantly ignorant stuff in public??
To be sure, lots of Americans today don’t know who either Merton or Day were; we live in an age of overwhelming ignorance.
But when the curious begin to find out, they will not find themselves being pushed toward the reactionary, anti-sex-obsessed, pro-war, plutocracy-loving, women-oppressing, pedophile protecting version of Catholic “religion” dominant among the current crop of U.S. Bishops.
In fact, I’m almost certain that practically everything Francis did in his visit here undermined their agenda & pissed them off royally. A clear indicator of this effect was the absence of the Supreme Court’s most obnoxiously right-wing Catholic justices.
The religion of Merton, Day, and –dare I say it?– Francis is well worth learning about, and following up in our own ways.
About Thomas Merton:
<< Thomas Merton (1915-1968) is arguably the most influential American Catholic author of the twentieth century. His autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, has sold over one million copies and has been translated into over fifteen languages. He wrote over sixty other books and hundreds of poems and articles on topics ranging from monastic spirituality to civil rights, nonviolence, and the nuclear arms race. . . .
The twenty-seven years [Merton] spent in [the] Gethsemani [ Monastery] brought about profound changes in his self-understanding. This ongoing conversion impelled him into the political arena, where he became, according to Daniel Berrigan, the conscience of the peace movement of the 1960’s. Referring to race and peace as the two most urgent issues of our time, Merton was a strong supporter of the nonviolent civil rights movement, which he called “certainly the greatest example of Christian faith in action in the social history of the United States.” For his social activism Merton endured severe criticism, from Catholics and non-Catholics alike, who assailed his political writings as unbecoming of a monk. >>
–The Thomas Merton Center, Bellarmine University, Louisville KY http://www.merton.org/