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.


Joe said...

You're looking at this bass-ackwards.

Be grateful Mr. Martin has allowed you such a great opportunity to exercise SO MUCH charitableness. Every time you may feel to cast aspersions on Mr. Martin's mother, or question how far above "dull normal" his IQ hovers but refrain from saying something, you are flinging souls out of Purgatory.

That said, his statement is daft.


Anonymous said...

Martin is paid to present an argument; to provoke you down to his level.

These arguments are not debate worthy; best to ignore this kind of crap.

American secular media has several items on its agenda, one of which is to make war on christianity, in particular Catholicism.

I agree with you, the BBC is much better than CNN.

jimi said...

what do you think of the statement that the church issued about other christian churches either being wrong or that something was somehow the matter with them?

Anonymous said...

just a question really. what do you think about the church saying that catholisism is th only way to salvation and that (paraphrasing), all other christian churches were either wrong or somthing is the matter with them?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you can introduce Mr. Martin to those things called..eemm....FALLACIES! haha.

C. Rakovec

P.S. I'm really liking this blog.

Anonymous said...

I do wish that the Pope had not undone some of what John Paul did. What saddens me is how divisive the Body of Christ has become with denominations - to the point that we are a house divided against itself. The real battle is not which church has the only true doctrine, but how can we battle the evil in today's age. I think that perhaps a better way to attract people to the church is to make sure priests are all accountable for their actions. It saddens me to see millions paid out because of the abuse. I was a victim of abuse at my father's hands (parent, not priest) and everytime I hear of abuse I cringe. That is so life impacting. I know that this too is not just in the Catholic church, but in many of those who call themselves God's servants. It is hard to see the Church as a guilding light for all when there is sin in the house. Just a thought.

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