The Pope and the People

This entry is part 23 of 73 in the series 2015

Sept 29, 2015

The Pope and the People

I’ve noted that there is a danger of a spiritual leader with much power attempting to influence the political direction of this country. This should be a concern, whether we agree with his views or not. If one agrees with the Pope he is likely to think, “Great, my political views are getting a shot in the arm!”

That may seem well and good at the time, but then after this protocol is established the next Pope may attempt to push some quite different and alarming views.

It wouldn’t be too troubling if the Pope wasn’t using the power of his great authority with the people to push his political agenda. If he is going to jump into the political fray then he should make it clear that he is speaking as an individual and not on behalf of Christ. He should make it clear that there is no risk for a member’s salvation to disagree with him on politics.

As it is, some are going along with his political views just to make sure God won’t be frowning on them when their souls are taken.

It is interesting to watch the power of authority at work. When a person gives to a fellow human some or all the authority that should only be given to the inner Voice, the impact of their words are greatly amplified. The power of glamour makes the ordinary seem extraordinary.

I noticed this with the Mormon prophet and other church authorities when I was a member decades ago. Even though I supported the church at that time I was repulsed by how the members seemed tremendously more impressed with the words of the authorities than should have been the case.

It has always been my approach to judge the greatness of words by the words themselves, not by who said them. Outer authority does not create greatness in words. Instead, it is intelligence and spirit in the words that gives them their value and impact.

Consider this, one of my favorite quotes:

Be like the bird who, pausing in her flight

Awhile on boughs too slight,

Feels them give way beneath her,

And yet sings, knowing she hath wings.

A thought expressed so eloquently needs no authority to give it value. It carries an inspiring living thought no matter who originated it. In this case it was Victor Hugo.

I remember when I was in the church – that faithful members looked forward to hearing the prophet speak in conference in the hope that some new revelation, teaching or profound thought would be expressed.

Instead of some new deep thought we heard repetition of what was said before – things like.

Keep the commandments

Read the scriptures.

Obey the Sabbath

Pay your tithing

Attend church

Support the church authorities.

Then came a time that the prophet at the time (Spencer W. Kimball) said something new. He boldly told the members to clean up their homes and make them more presentable, specifically telling members to paint their houses and groom their yards.

That is probably good general advice, but what amazed me was that many members took this for a great revelation.

On the other hand, if your next door neighbor told these same members to clean up their homes and yards they would not see such advice as profound at all. They’d be inclined to tell the guy to mind his own business.

I see the same thing happening with the Pope as I did the Mormon prophet. He gives us advice that one could easily find in Joe’s Bar and Grill, but because he supposedly speaks for Jesus his words are seen as much more profound than the same thing said by your friends at the bar or over dinner.

Here I paraphrased several things that were seen as so profound that they made John Boehner and others weep.

We shouldn’t pollute and work to keep the earth in a healthy condition.

Well, yeah… we all believe that. How to accomplish such a thing without creating tyranny is an idea where some profoundness could enter in.

Seek unity, not division.

Good advice you could also get at Joe’s Bar and Grill, but what specific steps are we to take?

Well he does say this:

“We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.”

I don’t think anyone would disagree with that feel-good statement as an ideal goal that we all have but does not materialize.

Be accepting of immigrants.
The Pope is preaching to the choir here as almost all of us are very accepting of immigrants. He didn’t say anything about accepting those who break our laws and are here, but have not immigrated.

Love your neighbor.

Good plan, but we have heard this before.

Fight poverty and share your wealth.

You can hear a sermon on this in most any church.

Families and family life are good to have.

I think we are all on board with this thought.

Lots of bad guys misuse wealth and power. This must stop.

Yeah, we’ve heard this before many times, but how is it to be achieved?

So, it is interesting that a powerful authority does not have to say anything that profound or new, but if he presents it with the aura that God is speaking through him then true believers will provide their own embellishment.

So, what do I think of pope Francis? Is he a good guy or bad guy?

I see him as a man who is further along on the path than other Popes in my lifetime, except for John Paul I, who I believe was poisoned after only 33 days in office.

Pope Francis is a man of strong personal discipline, strong beliefs and strong adherence to what he sees as the right path. He is making some changes of direction which shows he has some power to initiate

He strongly identifies with people in need and wants to help them. His intentions are good and he is doing his best to make a difference in a positive way.

BUT… Good intentions does not make a person correct. Chamberlain was a decent fellow who did his best in negotiating with Hitler. After he secured an agreement that seemed to secure “peace in our time” they held a ticker tape parade for him and the media praised him more than they currently are the Pope. Then, just a short time later, after Hitler invaded Poland, his judgment was seen as the greatest folly of the age.

Just because the Pope is a spiritual leader and reaffirms the pleasant platitudes of the past and admonishes us to attain the goals set by religion does not mean that we should shut down our minds and not critically examine what he says.

Few leaders in history have mastered illusion and until this is mastered the best of intentions can take us toward disaster instead of the Promised Land. Even after illusion is dispelled the person is still fallible, for none of us have perfect judgment. We always need to use our own minds in discerning whether a thing is true, or the best course of action.

So what is he doing that is right or wrong in my judgment?

As far as his spiritual calling goes he is doing a good job. He is relaxing the discipline on the outdated doctrines of the church on birth control, divorce and the attitudes of exclusion of the past. He’s emphasizing tolerance and forgiveness, even for those who have had abortions. All this is good and may result in a permanent positive advance for the church.

On the other hand, it appears that his political views, if established, could do a lot more harm than good as they seem to have a lot of illusion in them. Why do I say this?

Let us just look at his full endorsement of the orthodox global warming approach. If he had mastered illusion he would have not made a judgment on the matter unless he had investigated both sides of the issue and it is pretty obvious he has not. He’s just tuned into what appears to be the majority view of the authorities and goes with it.

Unfortunately, this is how most people decide what they will support. They will listen to the authorities “on their side” and just go with that, ignoring the key of Judgment.

Should the Pope not have political views then?

We all have political views and should have the freedom to express them. The trouble is that when someone who is seen as speaking for God, such as the Pope, the Mormon prophet or the Ayatollah Ali Khamene, then the power of his words take on other worldly influence that can lead to undue influence in a wrong direction.

The safe route is for all of us, no matter how inspired we think we are, to express our political views as coming from our own minds and judgment and that the listeners are free to take or leave what we say.

Actually, this should also be our approach in spiritual teachings as well, as all of us are fallible and all of us have the power to check the truth of matters with the Spirit of God within us.

Copyright 2015 by J J Dewey

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