Thursday, May 5, 2011

Glitz, Grace & Gore

Noman resists the gravitational pull of the news cycle, though he sometimes falls prey to it.  It was an unusually arresting weekend.  Noman isn't sure what to think about the triumvirate of mega-stories that emerged between Friday and Sunday, but he's sure that God has something Trinitarian in mind.  

First, the royal wedding--not to be confused with the Fred Astaire movie of the same title (which, incidentally, features several spectacular dance routines, including a famous one on the ceiling and walls, and one of No-family's favorite movie dances: "How Could You Believe Me").

A lot has changed in the intervening 64 years since Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip wed.  For one, the bride (and groom) need not even pretend to virginity.  That's lucky for Princess Kate and Prince William, who have been living as "man and wife" for at least seven years.  I guess they thought that they might as well celebrate the arrangement with a bash.  Commoners around the globe lapped it up as if something important had just happened, though it's hard to say why.  At this rate, it wouldn't be long before a "bastard" could assume the throne, anyways, undoubtedly to favorable comment by the media--the arbiter elegantiarum of what constitutes legitimacy.

One constant is that royal nuptials generate frenzy.  As for the British, Noman presumes the enthusiasm stems from an innate sense of belonging to a people and tradition that the institution of monarchy represents.  A marriage points to new life, and signifies that the people will perdure.  As for Americans, and others, Noman doesn't get it.  He didn't wail when Diana and Dody met their violent demises.  He didn't flinch when Prince Charles married his long-time paramour, adulteress and divorcee Camilla Parker Bowles.  Still, one can't help hearing about these things for all the buzz they generate.

Noman wishes the couple (and nation) well, though the odds are steeply against them.  As a child of divorce, William is statistically likelier to have one himself.  One can imagine the deleterious affect on the human heart, and capacity to believe in enduring commitments, that a parents' divorce must inflict.  The same dour fate applies to co-habitating couples that wed.  Despite the intuitive appeal of the premise that a trial marriage helps winnow out the wheat from the chaff, the statistics point in the other direction.  Apparently, when one is used to living in a relationship with one foot out the door, one doesn't adjust one's habits by simply walking down an aisle and uttering words of fidelity in public.  At least, not since the social blessings of no-fault divorce were imposed upon society.  William and Kate aren't slaves of statistics, however, and will make their own reality.  May God bless them.

Speaking of God, the second story was the Sunday morning beatification of Blessed Pope John Paul II.  What a Shepherd.  He's been gone for 6 years, and he's still leading his flock.  Noman was amazed at the praise heaped by journalists on JP II when he died.  After being a stupid Polack to them for decades, they showed that even sexual revolutionaries and other social progressives recognize greatness when they see it in an opponent, and are capable of a magnanimous gesture.  John Paul II was the greatest enemy of the philosophical fashions of his times: relativism, consequentialism, proportionalism, utilitarianism, nihilism, atheism, scientism, secular humanism and the rest.  He was an exemplar of faith, hope and love, and a tireless champion of truth in an age that had ceased to believe in it.
When Karol Wojtyła ascended to the throne of Peter, he brought with him a deep understanding of the difference between Marxism and Christianity, based on their respective visions of man. This was his message: man is the way of the Church, and Christ is the way of man. With this message, which is the great legacy of the Second Vatican Council and of its “helmsman”, the Servant of God Pope Paul VIJohn Paul II led the People of God across the threshold of the Third Millennium, which thanks to Christ he was able to call “the threshold of hope”. Throughout the long journey of preparation for the great Jubilee he directed Christianity once again to the future, the future of God, which transcends history while nonetheless directly affecting it. He rightly reclaimed for Christianity that impulse of hope which had in some sense faltered before Marxism and the ideology of progress. He restored to Christianity its true face as a religion of hope, to be lived in history in an “Advent” spirit, in a personal and communitarian existence directed to Christ, the fullness of humanity and the fulfillment of all our longings for justice and peace.
Though he wrote faster, and more, than many wanted to read, Noman especially revered five encyclicals composed during the '90's, and believes they are a beacon for people of the 21st century,and beyond in their search for the way, the truth and the life.  Centesimus Annus (1991) addressed the Social Doctrine of the Church; Veritatis Splendor (1993) addressed moral philosophy; Evangelium Vitae (1995) addressed the culture of life; Ut Unum Sint (1995) addressed ecumenism; and Fides et Ratio (1998) addressed the interrelation of faith and reason.  Had he written or done nothing more, he would have been a great man, and Pope.  But, of course, he did and wrote much more, which is why many considered him to the greatest man of the 20th Century, and why the faithful referred to him as John Paul the Great even during his lifetime.  The Church now proclaims what many, including Pope Benedict XVI, knew to be the case: he is with God in heaven, which is the greatest honor to which any mortal can aspire.

The third story involved a different kind of prophet, one who preached conquest rather than dialogue; domination rather than service; and death rather than life.  Noman speaks of Osama bin Laden, who met his maker later in the day on which John Paul was beatified.  Live by the sword, die by the sword.  Ironically, bin Laden seemed to be living in semi-retirement squarely in the military nerve center of Pakistan--surprise!  There's not much to say, other than congratulations to the navy seals who brought him to rough justice and settled accounts.  As of the present writing, President Obama is basking in the glory of the moment.  To listen to the coverage, one might think that the President is the wisest and bravest man of all time--a cross between Solomon and Churchill--for deciding to send troops in to kill bin Laden.  The Detroit News headlined its account "Daring Raid Changes History."  Really?  The Democratic party and media have once again discovered the joys of militarism, just as they did when President Clinton was trying to evade responsibility for philandering in the oval office with a junior employee, and to lift his poll numbers.  Pooh, pooh to Cindy Sheehan, and all that.  Can it be long before President Obama orders the bombing of a Sudanese aspirin factory?

Not surprisingly, the most widely ignored story was that of Pope John Paul II's beatification.  But, those who see clearly know that his pontificate is the event that truly changed history, much to the chagrin of those that worship at the altars of conspicuous consumption, pomp and circumstance represented by the royal wedding, or violent liberation represented by bin Laden's entire career.

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