I’m not dead yet…

…but being dead to the world is sometimes the best medicine.

When not interacting with friends and family, I spent most of my time over the Thanksgiving break reading, watching comedy, exercising, and tidying up some grade reports. I didn’t blog at my usual capacity, and barely delved into my usual tour of blogs.

Does this mean that I’m going back into blogger’s hibernation? No, but I have decided that, aside from writing about the topics I already had slated, I will pretty much entirely avoid discussing (and perhaps even following) Catholic current events, at least as far as the current papacy is concerned. I’m not dead yet, but I am tremendously exhausted. I am in a deep funk about my job situation and Advent started with a complete flop.

I have been feeling discombobulated for a couple weeks, largely because I often feel radically and painfully out of place in contemporary Catholic discourse, though it used to be my most copacetic environment. I managed to put my troubled state of mind into words yesterday in response to Fr. Blake’s post about “the latest” malapapalism kerfuffle, namely, did Pope Francis claim in a recent homily (NB: via News.va) that Jesus only pretended to be angry? Characteristically enough, however, while Fr. Blake copied and pasted the text from that sermon as follows–“In the Gospel, Jesus does not become angry, but pretends to when the disciples do not understand him”–, the text seems to have been changed, without comment, to read–“In the Gospel, Jesus does become angry, but pretends to when the disciples do not understand him.” I don’t know what the revised sentence is supposed to mean, but the paradoxically good news is that I don’t care!

dr-strangelove-or-how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-the-bomb-original(Incidentally, at Vatican Radio , Vatican Insider, NCReg, and CNA, the homily is still reported as saying, “Jesus does not become angry, but pretends to…” and the original Italian at News.va reads to the same effect: “Gesù non si arrabbia, ma fa finta quando i discepoli non capivano le cose”.)

Here I’ll just reproduce the comments I made at Fr. Blake’s post, which were prompted in part by this “pretentious” malapapalism, and in part by people’s reactions in the combox:

“But he hasn’t changed any official doctrine!”

I spent nearly two months at my blog working through the utter disorientation and desolation I felt at the content and impact of the pope’s early, “big” off-the-cuff remarks and interviews. It was a sort of consolation to have the Scalfari interview removed and to see the pope correct himself, sort of, on some other contentious points, but by now I’m simply exhausted. This kind of thing is going to plague this papacy until it’s over, and my faith, much less my sanity, cannot endure trying to unpack and clarify gaffe after gaffe. Our pope is a coarse man, reckless in his words, vulgar in the most authentic sense, and I’m perfectly happy listening to him only when he speaks authoritatively on clear matters that pertain to his magisterium. The rest is just a torrent of ecclesiologically Peronist soapbox improv, and my attention is better spent elsewhere. Specifically, I have zero interest in reading Evangelii Gaudium.

I’m bemused by some in Fr. Blake’s comment thread who seem to think that this is the first time that Pope Francis has mangled the patent teaching of Scripture (albeit non-dogmatically, so it’s all good, yo); I can think of at least two, or three, other cases, of his exegetical casuistry: his sermon on the multiplication of leaves and his claims about the relative value of the Marian vs. Marthan chrisms (his claim that God never gets angry is a possible third case). And lo–! As if right on cue, thanks to Jonathan in this thread at Bones on the same malapapalism, I became privy to another exegetical epiphany from Pope Francis:

‘[T]he first and the greatest of the commandments, and the one that best identifies us as Christ’s disciples [is]: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you”’. — Evangelii Gaudium §161

Compare this with:

‘“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ — Matthew 22:36-37

I am aware of John 13:34-35–“A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another”–, but the pope’s written assertion in E.G. manifestly conflates our Lord’s words in Matthew 22.

But hey, maybe He was just pretending.

All this will surely just confirm my cynical hunch: It simply does not matter what this pope says, since it is always jesuitical and sounds Christianesey enough to be defended without any qualms by legions of soft ultramontanists with keyboards. The irony, of course, is that Pope Francis knows that he can get away with these astounding statements, and so they will persist. I can’t keep up with this papacy, and I can’t bear to wrangle over the papal midrash among faithful Catholics, so I will be happy to watch the melee from afar. I’d rather be invisible than insane.


About The Codgitator (a cadgertator)

Catholic convert. Quasi-Zorbatic. Freelance interpreter, translator, and web marketer. Former ESL teacher in Taiwan (2003-2012) and former public high school teacher (2012-2014). Married father of three. Multilingual, would-be scholar, and fairly consistent fitness monkey. My research interests include: the interface of religion and science, the history and philosophy of science and technology, ancient and medieval philosophy, and cognitive neuroscience. Please pray for me.
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31 Responses to I’m not dead yet…

  1. Flambeaux says:

    Pretty much where I found myself settling a while back. The last, exhausting, several months have just confirmed the wisdom of that.

  2. I was reading Fr. Ray’s blog entry and the comment thread when I found myself agreeing completely with one commenter in particular, only to note that it was you. I’ve shared that I echo your thoughts on the current situation, and in a way am sorry to see you move on. It’s my job to keep up with it, and it does leave me feeling hollow and questioning many things.

    As far as the Exhortation, even that now is being claimed as a mistranslation. But even if it isn’t, it’s one of the most pessimistic and depressing documents I’ve read since Paul VI was the Pope. Everything beautiful and good in the Church is alternately praised and then dismissed as empty, devoid of life, like a museum. And it’s programmatic in that he wants to change Church structures, schedules, etc, ad nauseum. We’re likely going to witness profound changes, guided by reform of praxis, with little intent on the bothersome aspects of dogma and Tradition which get in the way; the Church can be messy as long as we help the poor.

    Soloveitchik, a rabbinical scholar, wrote beautifully about “The Lonely Man of Faith”, extracting ideas from Genesis 1 and 2. While we’re separated by the Cross of Jesus Christ from his tradition, Genesis does provide an anthropological basis for our being. Walking with this Pope’s agenda is a lonely and empty feeling for many; but that is where grace comes in, and I pray for it daily.

    I’ve appreciated your headtripping and witness with the Francis effect. Thanks for sharing.

  3. It seems as if Pope Francis is saying that while Jesus gets angry in the Gospel (notably the Temple event), when the disciples don’t understand him he ACTS angry to make a point. If I remember correctly hyperbole was a common tool for Jewish rabbis.

  4. Granted but now the claim is that Jesus DOES get angry “but pretends to do so.” Sigh.

  5. “…the Church can be messy as long as we help the poor. “

    I think that is, in a large way, where Pope Francis is going with this, though it’s obviously a simplification.

  6. Right, exactly. He does get angry at times, but in the specific example he was citing Pope Francis is saying that he, at least, thinks Jesus was using hyperbole, acting angrier than he really was to make a point.

  7. At Vatican Radio , Vatican Insider, NCReg, and CNA, the homily is still reported as saying, “Jesus does not become angry, but pretends to…” and the original Italian at News.va reads to the same effect: “Gesù non si arrabbia, ma fa finta quando i discepoli non capivano le cose”.

    This just underscores why I am “done” with this papacy. To official, binding papal teaching–amen! To the rest of this Keystone Koppery–nein, danke.

  8. I mean, fair enough. I’ll just say that a translation isn’t exactly his fault.

  9. Leo says:

    You keep referring to them as “soft ultramontanists” but is there much to recommend the view that they are “soft”? The average modern Papal suck-up seems positively neo-ultramontane.

  10. Leo says:

    That was basically the attitude he brought to bear on his diocese as Abp. of Buenos Aires, which was messy indeed, and in a lot of different ways.

  11. Eh, it is what it is, and I don’t mind being honest about my struggle anymore. The Faith (and my faith) has survived worse. I have a bleak picture of walking amidst the ruins of a once vibrant and lively Church… but I could be wrong. I was a bedwetter as a kid after all. 😉 Life goes on, and it’s for the living.

  12. I call it “soft ultramontanism” to emphasize that it inflates a personal attachment and valorization to the personal style and voice of Pope Francis, whereas I think hard ultramontanism makes radical theological claims about the constitutive rather than merely integrative role of the papacy. Presumably, and hopefully, soft ultramontanists would stop short of saying that the pope, by definition, cannot be in error. It suffices for them to say that, even if he were in error, it’s not within my jurisdiction to criticize him unless he blatantly and persistently teaches heresy. But, hey, maybe you’re right and I’m just trying not admit what we’re seeing.

  13. Leo says:

    Fair enough point for the more intelligent Papal apologists/suck-ups like Mark Shea, although the common sort of mediocre IQ like those that inhabit Catholic Answers Forum very often do have some theological baggage bound up with their casuistry: run your criticisms past them and they’ll ask in horror, “You don’t believe the Holy Spirit is guiding the Church?!”

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  15. I came to the same conclusion recently. This papacy has me exhausted, and I stopped reading the pope. It is difficult enough doing battle with culture of death and atheism without having the pope giving them ammunition. I do have difficulty dealing with not being of one mind with him and it damages my faith. Much to my chagrin, i do think things are only getting started for this pope. I expect that in the next two years he will set a roadmap for deconstructing the primatial and synodical structures of the Church to look like the East. It doesn’t bode well considering his lack of precision in everything else he does.

  16. To say “I’d rather be invisible than insane” sounds smart, but please be visible. You are very, very sane. You have been given an analytical mind, a God-given gift that you must not bury in the ground.

    Please do continue reading what the Pope writes, and to point out his absurdities.
    You owe this above all to Our Lord Jesus Christ, and to His Mother, the Mother of God.

    And you owe it to us. We need you!

  17. Branch says:

    I’m amazed Shea draws a paycheck for his ‘professional’ blogging, given the way he behaves.

  18. wewjude says:

    Hermit Crab is correct…please prayerfully reconsider. Perhaps this will be one of your earthly crosses that you can offer up.

    God bless….you have been a gift. Your postings, on the state of the Church/Papacy, resonate with our thoughts/concerns like few others do!

  19. Ibn Yaqob says:

    So you will criticize the Pope but you won’t accept criticism of yourself or your actions?

    Should we call this ultramontanCodgitatorism? Do you see your mistake here?

    BTW thank you for correcting my grammar in the other post. I appreciate that.

  20. No, Ben, the thing is, I’ve been told that you make it difficult for others to communicate here, so, while I appreciate your change of tone of late, and do take your comments into consideration, I’ll “store” your comments in my archive. My blog, my rules, etc. Thanks for understanding (although I thought you didn’t read blogs that have blocked you). Treat it as a direct line to my conscience. For every minute of writing to me, however, please keep me in prayer for two.

  21. Ibn Yaqob says:

    Actually I don’t read blogs that “ban” me(who cares about blocking) & since you haven’t taken down my ibn Yaqob posts I didn’t take your blocking seriously since you aren’t taking your ban seriously.

    Still I don’t always follow my own rule since I have another rule that says I can disregard the first rule if I feel like it.

    Hence I posted on Law’s blog recently & he took it down because he is still sulking over the fisking I’ve given him on his EGC mishigoss. He can’t take peasants like you & I telling him he doesn’t know what he is talking about.

  22. Ibn Yaqob says:

    Pray for me too.

  23. trof4st says:

    “but the paradoxically good news is that I don’t care!”

    That’s the breakthrough you needed: Bergoglio cannot destroy the Church.

  24. Ibn Yaqob says:

    “If in 1,800 years we clergy have failed to destroy the Church, do you really think that you’ll be able to do it?”—Cardinal Ercole Consalvi to Napoleon Bonaparte.

  25. E.M. Howard says:

    Thank you so much for your most interesting analysis of this strange papacy. You have helped me to cope with my confusion, doubts and fears about the future of my beloved Church. I too am a convert and came to Catholicism for all the reasons that this Pope seems to disdain or downplay i.e. security of doctrine, tradition ( big T and little t) authority of the Magisterium and the unchanging ( so far) moral precepts and of course most of all – the Eucharist and Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I too would like you to continue to post on this at least once in a while although I understand the exhaustion. I too have no interest in anything Pope Francis says anymore or in what happens at the Vatican. But I feel so sad to be in this state. It’s much easier to try and ignore it all but I’m not sure we should be.

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  27. ErnstThalmann says:

    My feelings exactly, particularly so since compounded by years of frustration trying but failing to find a priest that would permit me to bring his parish a book study on the Holy Trinity, a dogma I’ve given at least two decades of my life to studying intensively. Add to that twenty-five years of listening to the most dreadful homilies, experiencing no fellowship to speak of and now, Frank the Hippie Pope! I’m ready for the door.

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