Saturday, July 14, 2007

Newflash: The Pope is Meaningless! (It's news to me, too!)

For those of you who read, you'll have probably seen this charming little piece by journalist Roland S. Martin.

You really have to read the whole article for yourself, but it is really quite interesting. But the analytic part of my brain did a double-take at his line of argument:

Yet as I reflect on my years as a Catholic, it pretty much was a wasted experience, as there was more identification with the church, and not with Christ.

And that's why Pope Benedict XVI is meaningless, along with his decision to re-state the primacy of the Catholic Church.

Now, I think his whole piece is completely stupid. But tell me how this argument hangs together? Writing out of HIS experience, he feels that HIS experience of Catholicism led more to an identification with the Church than with Christ. THEREFORE, the Pope is meaningless.

In MY experience, I am a complete failure at tackle football. In MY experience, it led more to an identification with a Crash-Test Dummy than it did with Don Shula or Peyton Manning. And yet does it follow that football, or Roger Goodell (the commissioner of the NFL) is meaningless? While there are certainly some who will say that it is without meaning, I suspect there are enough Americans who might disagree.

My main point is that his argument just doesn't work, because there is no argument. He's writing more out of emotion than logic and while it makes for an interesting read, it makes him seem tremendously foolish.

And I'll forgo the discussion of his (woefully inadequate) use of scripture. Perhaps I should cut him some slack as he's ONLY had 13 years to understand the Bible sins break free from the fetters of Roman Catholicism.

But my favorite line of the text is this:

It doesn't matter what Pope Benedict XVI has to say, or for that matter, any other religious leader. A Christian believes in Jesus Christ and what He had to say, not what a man of God has to say. This is not an attempt to completely dismiss religious leaders, but is further evidence of what happens when ego is more important than the work of Christ.

I completely agree that we should harbor suspicion against potentially ego-maniacal religious figures. Egotists who would dare to make any sort of pronouncement, self-important individuals who want only the spotlight and attention, to have the whole world gaze upon them. We definitely must look askance at anyone who keeps "running off at the mouth mouth and making pointless declarations". I'm sure his publisher will agree, too:

Oh, perhaps my fatigue with German study has led me to be a little less-than-charitable. Believe me, I'm holding back a lot of venom on this post.

Again, as I tried to make clear when I wrote an analysis of Regina Brett's column several months ago, I'm not against dialogue and debate. I am against, however, shoddy arguments and appeals to emotion that go absolutely nowhere and are more displays of rhetorical skill than they are at sound analysis.

The theological debate that this calls for is inappropriate for my blog. The most I feel I can offer in this setting is just a quick appraisal of Mr. Martin's argument which I find to be completely erroneous. His assessment of the Pope as "meaningless" makes me question his skill as a journalist and leaves me even more grateful that I watch the BBC rather than CNN.
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