Mocking Mormons, Pope Francis, Grace Upon Grace, & A Blessed Lambo
This article was written by Ricardo Huerta. Check out his bio.
1. On Wednesday The Atlantic came out with an article on the American prejudice we’ve all come to accept and one many of us participate in: Mocking Mormons. Mormons, more than any other religion in America, have taken a barrage of mockery from TV shows, a Broadway musical comedy, public figures, and according to Pew Research polls, even the citizenry has expressed doubt about voting for Mormon politicians. As the article points out, this prejudice doesn’t make sense and in turn fails to see the immense worth Mormons hold in a society that has abandoned many of the virtues Latter-Day saints hold dear.
Fun fact for the week; I come from a long line of Mormons stemming from my great-great grandfather’s conversion to the religion in the latter part of the 19th century. Compelled to be in community with those who shared his newfound faith, my great-great grandfather uprooted his life in southern England and resettled in what was then known as the Utah Territory. I mention this because, despite not carrying on my family’s faith, I have skin in the game. Putting aside all my disagreements with Mormon theology, I sympathize with them, mostly because in some visceral sense I feel a kinship to the faith of my fathers.
2. Over at First Things Gerald McDermott has penned this weeks most thought provoking piece. His article, “Is The Pope a Liberal Protestant?” pulls no punches in calling Pope Francis into question. A practicing Anglican, McDermott is distant enough from the Holy See, allowing him to ask the question that Roman Catholics might feel uncomfortable with. McDermott writes:
“I take no pleasure in Rome’s travails. For decades, orthodox Anglicans and other Protestants seeking to resist the apostasies of liberal Christianity have looked to Rome for moral and theological support… During the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, we non-Catholics arguing moral theology could point to learned and compelling arguments coming out of Rome and say, in effect, ‘The oldest and largest part of the Body of Christ agrees with us, and it does so with remarkable sophistication.’”
McDermott, as well as many Catholic theologians and clergy, see Pope Francis as a turning point in how Rome engages the world. In Benedict and John Paul the Catholic Church (and orthodox Christians in general) had two beacons of light that shined on an increasingly darkening world. In Francis orthodox Christians no longer have an ally but instead a pope willing to make concessions to the zeitgeist of the world. Or so McDermott argues. I can’t say I fully agree with his assessment of Pope Francis, mostly because I see him as a step towards grace as suppose to law. And as is often the case, preach too much grace and you’ll start to worry people.
3. Speaking of grace… This week’s must read is from the grace-riddled site that is Mockingbird. In his article “Book Smart and Gospel Stupid” writer Chad Bird gets so much right. He writes:
“Thank God for our intellects and for intellectuals, as well as brainiacs like Aquinas and Augustine. Thank God for scholastic wisdom, linguistic skill, doctrinal doctors, experts on liturgy and architecture and music and all the wild and beautiful mysteries of life in this church and world.But most of all, thank God when we in the church keep first things first. When we remember that all this is in the service of the Gospel.If any intellectual field within the church tries to be its own master, instead of pledging its full loyalty to the Good News of Jesus, it needs a fraternal kick in the ass and a rededication to its Lord.Teachers and preachers, professors and musicians, authors and speakers: we all need the Good News. Whatever paths we’re going down in our unique fields of study, we will at some point intersect with the road to Calvary.”
4. In other news, the accusations and confirmations of sexual assaults continue to pour in. Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., and now Al Franken. Words escape me. I wish I had something thoughtful to write, but I don’t. To write in the face of such atrocities requires abilities and sensitivities that I’m afraid I don’t possess. I can only say: we can and must do better.
5. Finally, over at The Cut is a wildly ironic picture of Pope Francis blessing a $200,000 Lamborghini matching his vestments. In all fairness, the car is being auctioned off and all the proceeds are being donated to persecuted Christians in Iraq. A funny picture with a noble cause. What more could you ask for!?