To whom he was referring is of but very little interest to me, nor is it of any great relevance when considering the significance and validity of the scathing criticism dished out by the pontiff recently.
The words of a man who purports to represent an entire faith have a lot of clout. This is equal parts reasonable and unfortunate. As flocks go, Christians are a pretty diverse bunch – obviously. And what goes for one branch of the faith does not automatically follow for another – slightly less obvious but, well, understandable, I suppose. You’d expect there to be some constant, though, wouldn’t you? Some reliable and bulletproof – I’m loathe to use the term infallible – philosophy underpinning the outlook of an organisation that boasts over 1.25 billion adherents. (Head count brought to you by systems similar to the ones that suggest that 40,000 people were at Nirvana’s last gig before they hit the big time).
There might be a constant. Somewhere, occupying an ethereal space not of this time, is the fixed concept of what it means to be a Christian. Now as concepts become diluted over time, adapted on an ad hoc basis and utilised in a manner that best serves the user, it’s fair to say that there are different Christianities out there in the world today. Having evolved out of one, their shared heritage joins them at the hip, each one striving to illuminate the road to all that is good and right in the world.
But where and what and when is this constant that crosses all boundaries, permeates all schools of thought? From where I’m sitting, it occupies another dimension, is the very epitome of some dystopian nightmare, and seems to have stagnated to a grinding halt at some vague point between the dark ages and the renaissance, its second hand skipping perpetually as it tries to move on from some ill-defined cosmic event that would see it forever attempting to mould society to its ways rather than adjusting its own cast.
It’s true that building walls mightn’t appear to be a very neighbourly act; unChristian, he said. Whatever your political leanings, there’s an inescapable truth to the statement, but that’s for someone better qualified than me to discuss. Most interesting about the pontiff’s denunciation, nay, accusation, is not the raw content, but his unparalleled lack of credibility to make such statements.
No better man for piety, I suppose, but it’s all a bit rich coming from the leader of an organisation that systematically practices oppression.
I fail to see what is Christian about indoctrinating people with the belief that using artificial contraception is somehow wrong. A two-pronged argument there, of course, as sexual health and reproductive rights deserve to be explored separately; and I feel strongly about access to services for the former, and choice and self-sovereignty for latter; but even if we just take sexual health – by the way, repeal the eighth – we can see that this is an organisation that suggested people not use condoms when some parts of the world were in the clutches of an AIDS epidemic.
But, when I think about it, I don’t fail to see what is Christian about it, because according to the good book and the infinite wisdom of the policy makers of different times, that’s what being Christian means. That, along with oppression of, for example, women, the gay community, and the list does indeed go on.
This all begs the question: is being called unChristian an insult? As alluded to already, Christians are a pretty eclectic demographic, and it’s clear that an overwhelming majority of them do not subscribe to this draconian vision of what Christianity should be. But if being a text book Christian means one must adhere to the barbarities of controlling women’s bodies and denying marriage to consenting adults, then maybe being unChristian isn’t such a bad thing after all.
Don’t get me wrong: I not a Trump devotee and have no wish to endorse nor denounce his actions. It just seems to me that there’s a preacher in town and his soapbox is filled with sanctimony, hypocrisy, and a blatant disregard for the common good.
So Pope Francis, if you’re listening, I’d like to give you something, but I’ll need you to sweeten the deal. Perhaps you could hold off on being hypocritical for a while, and I’ll gift you the people’s 21st century decency to replace that draconian Christianity you’re so fond of harping on about.
Please and thanks.