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    Customizing the pontiff

    My first thought on reading the news that the pope had been selected this morning was, as you might imagine, “Hmm…I wonder whether Andrew Sullivan has torn himself clean in half with rage yet, like Rumpelstilskin, or I’m a little early.” I was just in time, apparently, but QandO already has it covered.

    Camille Paglia dealt with this amply in an essay when I was in college, but it’s not an issue that’s likely to go away soon. To add to what Dale writes at QandO: if you believe that your principles are moral and just, and you believe that external, obdurate reality bears them out without the gloss of wishful thinking, that’s that. Religions don’t have line-item vetos. There are gay-friendly churches around, and I’m at a loss to figure out why gay Christians don’t join them instead of trying to shift thousands of years of tradition to fit their beliefs this very minute.

    That doesn’t mean they should just sit down and shut up if they seriously believe that scripture is being misinterpreted or interpreted too narrowly. It’s just that lasting change happens slowly. If their chief concern is that the long-term trajectory of Christianity be in the direction of truth, they have to accept that their arguments may take hold slowly and not have any effects on doctrine within their lifetimes. And if what they’re arguing really isn’t clearly supported by the Bible, it may never take hold in the church in which they were reared. They must be content with serving God to the honest best of their understanding, and standing firm in the face of earthly disapproval. I still think Andrew Sullivan has contributed a great deal to the public discourse, but I can’t get his position on religion to boil down to anything but “I’ll fuck whoever I damn well please, and the church will love me for it.” That seems to me just a bit off the mark.

    Added on 21 April: Susanna is back to posting more frequently, which is a good thing. She had this to say about the ascension of the new pope and Andrew Sullivan’s reaction to it.

    Also, Michael thinks I’m engaging in pro forma Sullivan-bashing. Well, I’m not. When people attack or belittle Andrew Sullivan as if he were useless, I am more than happy to defend him. But you can defend his overall contribution to the public debate and still conclude that his recent positions are either not well supported or mutually inconsistent, and that the flibbertigibbety way he’s taken to expressing them doesn’t do him any favors, either.

    5 Responses to “Customizing the pontiff”

    1. Michael says:

      And for the record, I do NOT think you are a bigot, as was implied – or flat out SAID, by someone in my comments. Hope you know that. I just disagree with you, almost always, about Sullivan.

    2. Sean Kinsell says:

      I know, man, but thanks for clarifying.

    3. Normal Desmond says:

      Michael Sullivan was interviewed on Michael Medved’s April 20 radio program (12-3pm KRLA in Los Angeles). He claimed that the Bush administration was directly involved in the selection of the new Pope. Sullivan claimed that a delegation was sent to the Vatican for this purpose.

    4. alan says:

      Have you seen Allah’s Sully Freak-out Advisory over at Ace’s? Classic.

    5. Sean Kinsell says:

      Yeah, I almost fell off the sofa. Thanks for the link, though, alan. Not sure that spectrum is quite pastel enough, but you can’t have everything.

      Desmond, did Sullivan elaborate on how this supposed delegation could have been expected to have any influence? I mean, I thought the cardinals had their secret conclave and that was that.

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