Priests Are Like Aeroplanes
December 23, 2014 4:12 AM   Subscribe

 
Francis is going to be found dead under not even the slightest bit mysterious circumstances, isn't he.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:18 AM on December 23, 2014 [18 favorites]


Francis is going to be found dead under not even the slightest bit mysterious circumstances, isn't he.

Skateboarding accident.
posted by Etrigan at 4:26 AM on December 23, 2014 [16 favorites]


16) Infiltration by HYDRA. "I'm looking in your direction here, Ratzinger."
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:27 AM on December 23, 2014 [9 favorites]


Francis is going to be found dead under not even the slightest bit mysterious circumstances, isn't he.

As I explained what had happened in this speech to my wife those were her words, verbatim.
posted by chasles at 4:52 AM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of a quote attributed to Pope John the XXIII back around the time of Vatican II when asked by reporter how many people worked in the Curia. "About half." was his response.
posted by KingEdRa at 4:54 AM on December 23, 2014 [21 favorites]


Priests are like aeroplanes? Reminds me of a remark overheard at the Church of England's general Synod: "If arseholes could fly, this place would be an airport."
posted by Devonian at 4:58 AM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


This reminds me of a quote attributed to Pope John the XXIII back around the time of Vatican II when asked by reporter how many people worked in the Curia. "About half." was his response.

A young priest runs up to the Pope and says, "Your Holiness! I just saw Jesus riding up to the gates of the Vatican on a donkey! What do we do?!?"

"Look busy."
posted by Etrigan at 4:58 AM on December 23, 2014 [13 favorites]


"Martha-ism"?
posted by ardgedee at 5:06 AM on December 23, 2014


Luke 10:38-42.
posted by micketymoc at 5:13 AM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I always feel so bad for Martha in that story.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:16 AM on December 23, 2014 [20 favorites]


Yeah, I had thought it might be that, but for some reason latched onto the notion that it referred to Martha Stewart. Which, I suppose, wouldn't be too far off either, depending on how you interpret it.
posted by ardgedee at 5:37 AM on December 23, 2014


"Martha-ism"?

I think this means choosing to do the necessary and helpful and yet ultimately unimportant tasks -- because they make us look conspicuously useful -- instead of doing the hard and meaningful work of loving, connecting, being with the suffering of others, etc., which is difficult and unseen and uncredited.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:43 AM on December 23, 2014 [15 favorites]


the notion that it referred to Martha Stewart.

"Daughter Stewart, can't you see that I am working my fingers to the bone -- to the bone -- over these perfect classroom cupcakes? I have spent hours personalizing each one so every child will feel special! No, I don't have time for a tea party with you, and your crayons just fell in my fondant!"
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:46 AM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


I really liked this. It's basically a reflection on bureaucratic alienation.

I get the sense it's the kind of thing that those self-help books for CEOS talk about, kind of Tony Robbins for the Papal set, but without the "Greed is Good" angle.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:47 AM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I heard a very plausible argument for WHY Francis is being so aggressively Christ-like in Rome. Remember, he was Cardinal in Argentina during the Dirty War, as his own priests were being kidnapped by the death squads. Contemporaries talk about Bergoglio feeling anguished and wanting to speak out, but feeling like he couldn't, that "it wasn't an easy thing to do". So he remained mostly silent.

I think he regrets that very much.

I think he believes that God has given him a chance to atone, and is taking full advantage of whatever time he has left on this earth.
posted by leotrotsky at 5:53 AM on December 23, 2014 [58 favorites]


They're all great but I love this one in particular:
12) “The illness of the funereal face: or rather, that of the gruff and the grim, those who believe that in order to be serious it is necessary to paint their faces with melancholy and severity, and to treat others – especially those they consider inferior – with rigidity, hardness and arrogance. In reality, theatrical severity and sterile pessimism are often symptoms of fear and insecurity.”

I love that he noticed this and called it out. Don't ever leave us Pope Francis.
posted by bleep at 5:58 AM on December 23, 2014 [18 favorites]


After his Curia barnburner, the Pope met with employees of the Holy See:
This morning Pope Francis met with employees of the Holy See, whom he thanked fervently for their work during the last year. ... Francis emphasised the word “care” and explained that “caring means manifesting diligent and thoughtful interest, that directs our heart and our activities towards someone or something; it means looking with attention to those who are in need of care without thinking of anything else; it means accepting to give or receive care”. To “transform this Holy Nativity into a true opportunity to heal every wound and every lack”, he urged those present to take care of their spiritual life, their relationship with God, and to look after their family life and relationships with others. ... The Pope concluded by asking forgiveness for his shortcomings, and those of his colleagues, and also for the various scandals “that do a great deal of damage”, he commented. “Forgive me and, please, pray for me”.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:01 AM on December 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'd kickstarter the bejeebers out of a Hyperbole and a Half version of this list in webcomic form.
posted by pantarei70 at 6:04 AM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


I am catholic by birth and agnostic because it makes sense to me.

I don't like the idea of a Pope or a Guru or an Imam. [Pope] Francis is a very smart person and while I don't like his role I do like the way he is critical of those that would pretend.
posted by vapidave at 6:20 AM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


I get the sense it's the kind of thing that those self-help books for CEOS talk about

"Who Moved My Holy Sees?"; the papal book tour will commence soon.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:39 AM on December 23, 2014 [6 favorites]


I think this means choosing to do the necessary and helpful and yet ultimately unimportant tasks -- because they make us look conspicuously useful -- instead of doing the hard and meaningful work of loving, connecting, being with the suffering of others, etc., which is difficult and unseen and uncredited.

I get that that's the point of the passage, but I'm with Bulgaroktonos: Jesus and Mary get to sit around talking religion and philosophy while Martha does the actual hard work. They probably will happily make use of her "unimportant" work when they eat her food and enjoy the clean quarters she provides.

Reminds me of a particularly sanctimonious roommate I once had.
posted by Sangermaine at 6:41 AM on December 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


I heard a very plausible argument for WHY Francis is being so aggressively Christ-like in Rome.....

Plausible indeed. Although I personally chalk his actions up to "he's a Jesuit, and Jesuits are total freakin' bad-ass." The Former Seminarian (tm) I know was going to be a Jesuit, and a lot of what Pope Francis is doing is all straight out of their playbook.

I will save my friend's comments about Ratzinger for another time, but they were quite vivid in their vitriol.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:42 AM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


Although I personally chalk his actions up to "he's a Jesuit, and Jesuits are total freakin' bad-ass."

James Martin's "The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything," and its explanation of Ignatian spirituality, has been helpful to my understanding of Pope Francis's words and actions. Contemplatives in action, badass!
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:53 AM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


Is this the first Papal listicle ever?
posted by Kabanos at 7:04 AM on December 23, 2014 [10 favorites]


POSIWID, Frank, old chum; POSIWID. Yes, we might've suffered some mission creep since the founder's message, but all that forgiveness, compassion and poverty was so two thousand years ago, and really missed key points on the marketing front. Look — we've got the nifty digs, natty robes, gold up to our earlobes, and we're still turning out billions of new customers-for-life too scared to go anywhere else. It's a great gig; why ruin it now?
posted by scruss at 7:20 AM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


Don't ever leave us Pope Francis.

Don't ever leave us, because it's dollars to donuts that your successor will be even more rigid, reactionary, and doctrinaire than Benedict XVI.
posted by blucevalo at 7:22 AM on December 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


Jesus and Mary get to sit around talking religion and philosophy while Martha does the actual hard work. They probably will happily make use of her "unimportant" work when they eat her food and enjoy the clean quarters she provides.

Now that I have more "work experience", I interpret this passage differently - work will always be there. even if you clean now, you'll need to clean later. but this opportunity to speak to Christ was likely once-in-a-lifetime. If Christ himself, the guest of honour, didn't care about a clean house and good food and soft sheets (did fabric softener exist back then?), then Martha shouldn't have either.

I'm sure that everyone heard, in some form or another, the advice about when you are on your death-bed, you won't regret not working hard enough or not cleaning enough; you'll regret not spending time with your loved ones or missing out on life-changing experiences.

heck we give similar advice to colleagues going on vacation who are worried about work - "don't worry, enjoy your vacation; you'll always have tasks to complete here, but your vacation is once in a blue moon, so take advantage fully"
posted by bitteroldman at 7:49 AM on December 23, 2014 [6 favorites]


The risk of a return to the orthodox and hierarchical culture of previous papal regimes is all too real, yes. This is why Pope Francis' twin tasks are reforming the Vatican in the now; and building a quorum of likeminded Cardinals and other important church functionaries so they are empowered to carry on his legacy beyond his tenure. I see signs he is moving vigorously to achieve this second objective even as he makes strides towards the first. The headlines speak of the removal of this intransigent Cardinal or that outspoken bishop, but I suspect the real story is who is being chosen to replace these old-guard figures.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 7:55 AM on December 23, 2014 [5 favorites]


Yeah, the likelihood of a reactionary papacy post-Francis lessened the more time goes by and the more he brings like-minded people into the College of Cardinals (as well as in the Curia). That's not to say you can never have a surprise - Francis himself is, I think, making bigger changes than many anticipated, and of course, examples can be found outside the church (think David Souter or Earl Warren on the US Supreme Court, for example). But it is less likely the longer Francis has to remold things in his own image. I think there is probably a lot going on behind the scenes we don't hear much about.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:08 AM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


Jesus and Mary get to sit around talking religion and philosophy while Martha does the actual hard work.

That's the Martha-ism trap expressed more succinctly than I ever could. The "actual hard work" that Martha is doing is interpreted (in this parable) as busy work, marginally useful, but low priority. It could have waited. The bible's lesson is don't ignore God by getting lost in trivia. Good intentions aren't an excuse.

However, it's also a frequent problem in bureaucracies, someone gets tied up in rituals of procedure and routine, working on arranging their files, while an important contract sits unattended on the corner of their desk. Francis is calling out those who knowingly or not leave the hard things to falter while keeping "busy" with more trivial tasks.
posted by bonehead at 8:22 AM on December 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


"Jesus and Mary get to sit around talking religion and philosophy while Martha does the actual hard work."

Verily and thusly, Christ instructs us to choose our quadrant of the Impact Effort Matrix wisely.
posted by klarck at 8:33 AM on December 23, 2014 [11 favorites]


The risk of a return to the orthodox and hierarchical culture of previous papal regimes is all too real, yes. This is why Pope Francis' twin tasks are reforming the Vatican in the now; and building a quorum of likeminded Cardinals and other important church functionaries so they are empowered to carry on his legacy beyond his tenure.

I remember when he was elected, among the reasons given that the College of Cardinals went for him specifically is that basically everyone recognizes that the Curia is a complete mess and has been for decades (if not centuries), and it was thought that someone farther removed from the bureaucracy might have a better chance at actually reforming it. Certainly Benedict utterly failed at it, and presumably another pope in his mold would have failed just as much. God knows the Cardinals are a fussy and unpredictable group, but they also realize that reform is desperately needed, so I think support for some changes is already there, or otherwise they wouldn't have elected him in the first place.
posted by Copronymus at 8:41 AM on December 23, 2014 [5 favorites]


However, it's also a frequent problem in bureaucracies, someone gets tied up in rituals of procedure and routine, working on arranging their files, while an important contract sits unattended on the corner of their desk. Francis is calling out those who knowingly or not leave the hard things to falter while keeping "busy" with more trivial tasks.

But there's also the opposite problem: some "visionary" executive swoops in with some grand ideas, and the people who have to do the nitty-gritty, day-to-day work of making it happen are ignored and derided as worthless drones. It's easy for the person at the top to tut-tut and remind them to focus on the bigger picture; they're not the ones who have to do the actual implementing of the vision.

I guess it bothers me because it seems like another way to shit on the "little" people who do the "busy" work, because the busy work really has to get done by someone, and it's usually not the someone calling it busy work. Maybe I've just heard too much of this kind of talk coming from "important" people who think they're so above everyone else and don't care what the peasants are doing to achieve their genius.
posted by Sangermaine at 9:32 AM on December 23, 2014 [9 favorites]


The shitting on the little people factor is perhaps ameliorated by the part where he's explicitly addressing the curia.
posted by The Gaffer at 9:37 AM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


But there's also the opposite problem: some "visionary" executive swoops in with some grand ideas, and the people who have to do the nitty-gritty, day-to-day work of making it happen are ignored and derided as worthless drones. It's easy for the person at the top to tut-tut and remind them to focus on the bigger picture; they're not the ones who have to do the actual implementing of the vision.

Maybe I've just heard too much of this kind of talk coming from "important" people who think they're so above everyone else and don't care what the peasants are doing to achieve their genius.


It's true that pretty much every bit of wise and challenging advice can be twisted into something nasty if you point it in a different direction to address different circumstances.
posted by straight at 10:17 AM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


I hope the concept of infallibility helps him recreate the management of his church, but this is Earth. I truly wish him well, he offers spiritual leadership that could help good political leadership, heal on this sordid world. Funeral Face, the mask of the incompetent, pay no attention to those men behind the green curtains. Francis brings good tidings to most all.
posted by Oyéah at 10:18 AM on December 23, 2014


That's not how the concept of papal infallibility works. It's only applicable in very rare and specific circumstances. Nobody in the Curia thinks that Francis is speaking with God's words when he tells them to file those forms in triplicate.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:30 AM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


Jesus and Mary get to sit around talking religion and philosophy while Martha does the actual hard work. They probably will happily make use of her "unimportant" work when they eat her food and enjoy the clean quarters she provides.

I think Jesus' idea here is that, while the work Martha does enables the others to have a comfortable visit and some tasty snacks, her service is not given in a spirit of joy. Both Mary and Martha are doing hospitable things, but Martha's mounting resentment and jealousy prevents her from being truly hospitable. Martha devalues her own contribution by seeing it as less "special" than sitting at Jesus' feet and listening. Everything done in love for someone else serves God. Resentment blocks the spirit that can transform mundane service into prayer.
posted by cross_impact at 10:39 AM on December 23, 2014 [10 favorites]


Martha's mounting resentment and jealousy prevents her from being truly hospitable

Yes -- work done with "mounting resentment and jealousy" is less valuable/spiritually connecting than the same work done with a generous and faithful spirit. Likewise, work done with gossip, a stern face, and thoughts of advancement -- any of the 15 points elaborated -- is done grudgingly, and not in a way that allows wholeheartedness, or, as cross_impact put it so well, "the spirit that can transform mundane service into prayer."
posted by MonkeyToes at 10:47 AM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


I guess it bothers me because it seems like another way to shit on the "little" people who do the "busy" work, because the busy work really has to get done by someone, and it's usually not the someone calling it busy work. Maybe I've just heard too much of this kind of talk coming from "important" people who think they're so above everyone else and don't care what the peasants are doing to achieve their genius.

I think the problem is that the "little" people Francis is addressing think that their jobs make them more important, not less. The Curia, and all religious, for that matter, cannot forget that they are first and foremost servants. That's what their vows are all about. What little sphere of authority a bureaucrat has is entrusted to them to use for others' sake, not a fiefdom they must defend and expand for the bureaucrats' sake.

I'd say that, if you're calling your job "busy work," you've lost perspective on what you are supposed to be doing and who you are supposed to be serving.
posted by cross_impact at 10:55 AM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


However, it's also a frequent problem in bureaucracies, someone gets tied up in rituals of procedure and routine, working on arranging their files, while an important contract sits unattended on the corner of their desk. Francis is calling out those who knowingly or not leave the hard things to falter while keeping "busy" with more trivial tasks.

So... "Martha" is Stalin?
posted by ennui.bz at 12:05 PM on December 23, 2014


Asses: Kicked.
Names: Taken.
posted by Danf at 12:16 PM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]


Curia, get out the ointment 'cause tibi sunt igni.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 12:47 PM on December 23, 2014 [4 favorites]


Asses: Kicked.
Names: Taken.


Gum: Chewed (?)
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:14 PM on December 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Excessive list making?
posted by IndigoJones at 5:07 PM on December 23, 2014


I still like to picture the look on the cardinals' faces after they elected him and *then* found out he was actually a Christian.
posted by uosuaq at 6:06 PM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


Pope Francis makes me proud to be a (former) Catholic.

That is all.
posted by math at 7:05 PM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


However, it's also a frequent problem in bureaucracies, someone gets tied up in rituals of procedure and routine, working on arranging their files, while an important contract sits unattended on the corner of their desk. Francis is calling out those who knowingly or not leave the hard things to falter while keeping "busy" with more trivial tasks.
Well, these are the hallmarks of any bureaucracy. Every single one of those 'ailments' can be applied to any organisation of sufficient size.
posted by dg at 12:45 AM on December 24, 2014


Nice, talking to a group of men (14 “The ailment of closed circles") in that room with that illustrated table and the huge paintings on the walls and all the probably not-inexpensive robes (13 “The disease of accumulation"). Tax free. No women of course, even though nuns seem to be the best thing about the Catholic church: kind, non-judgemental.

Maybe, just maybe Francis means what he says and he really wants the whole church to change and be nicer and help people and this is like trying to use a handbrake to stop a fully-loaded bus rolling down a hill. Very difficult and slow.

Maybe, just maybe it's all bullshit and whitewashing. None of the practices of the Church have changed, birth control is wrong, nuns should just STFU and let the men make the policies, on gay marriage: "Let’s not be naïve, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God."

There's more here, but mostly he didn't say that he was going to round up the abusers of children, have them scourged, and have their bodies displayed on the Vatican gates as a warning. Instead he said that "The statistics on the phenomenon of violence against children are shocking, but they also clearly show that the great majority of abuses are carried out in family or neighbourhood environments."

"But they also..." "It's not just us" Distancing language and blame-shifting. Whoever the Vatican's hired to do PR and spin control is a master at it.
posted by Zack_Replica at 9:35 AM on December 24, 2014


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