The world has fallen in love with Pope Francis, and I can’t say that I can blame it. He’s kind of a cool Pope. He doesn’t want the Church to focus too much on condemning abortion and gay marriage. He wants to talk about the poor and the oppressed. He believes in climate change. He sounds downright progressive.

But once in a while I hear something from him that reminds me why I have a problem with–not him, so much, but the Church that he represents. Such as when he says, in support of large families:

“Every family is a cell of society…but large families are richer and more vital cells.”

Are they? This is why I–and a lot of other people living in our times–feel such a disconnect with the traditional Catholic Church. When it comes to human lives, the Church still values quantity over quality. Does more automatically equal richer and more vital? What about a family which has fewer kids but puts more time and care into raising them? A family which gives them more–and I don’t mean strictly in the material sense, but also in the emotional and intellectual sense? I suspect the Pope sees large families as a bulwark against modern materialism and selfishness. And yet I’ve known childless people who lead very unselfish lives. On the other hand, I remember the abusive town drunk from my childhood days, with his miserable wife and his seven kids, most of them illiterate. That was a rich and vital cell of society? Give me a break.

For so many of us, the rules of “procreate!” and “more!” no longer satisfy. For the same reasons, we are less interested in following the rules of traditional marriage and more interested in the meaning of our relationship with our partner. The content matters more than the framework.

But hey, Francis is still quite the charming guy. And I love the way he confuses and irritates the laissez-faire capitalist Christian conservatives here in America. I will always give him brownie points for that.

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Turns out that scientists have been unable to find any trace of time travellers on the Internet.  I know–I didn’t realize there were scientists looking for signs of online time travel, either.  Physicists at Michigan Technological University decided to adopt the strategy of coming up with two phrases–“Pope Francis” and “Comet Ison”–that were not in popular use before 2012 or 2013, and Googling for any earlier use of these words, to see if a time traveller may have been dropping hints on the Internet.

But nope, nothing.  So either time travel doesn’t exist, or our future selves are so spiritually enlightened that we no longer waste our time endlessly surfing the Web.  Since that second option is unlikely, I’ll go with “time travel doesn’t exist”.  Unless whoever travelled in time just didn’t care about either Pope Francis or comet Ison.  Maybe they were too busy predicting the rise of twerking?

Looks like we’ve got no time travelling, no prophecy–we’re stuck with the good old-fashioned method of guessing what will happen.  Some of our guesses are pretty good.  Presenting this article from back in 2004: 

Remember the name Barack Obama. You’ll be hearing it a lot as this election season unfolds.

Mr. Obama, a Democrat, is tall, thin, youthful and very smart, and he’s running (sometimes literally, depending on the schedule) for a U.S. Senate seat from Illinois.

He’s got a million-dollar smile and he’s charismatic. At the moment he has a substantial lead in the polls. If that lead holds and he wins in November, he’ll be only the third African-American to take a seat in the Senate since Reconstruction.

His partisans describe Mr. Obama as a dream candidate, the point man for a new kind of politics designed to piece together a coalition reminiscent of the one blasted apart by the bullet that killed Robert Kennedy in 1968.

The article describes Barack Obama as the future of politics, but doesn’t get everything right.  The hilarious part of the prediction is that Obama will help the country’s politics be less divisive….I think the writer may have been overestimating the sanity of our nation.  Well, nobody is going to guess correctly 100% of the time…unless you are a time traveller reading this, in which case, tell us what the hell happens with Ted Cruz?

 

“He must open his arms to protect all of God’s people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love:  the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison.”  —  Pope Francis

“The mystic parasites who have, throughout the ages, reviled the traders and held them in contempt, while honoring the beggars and the looters, have known the secret motive of their sneers: a trader is the entity they dread–a man of justice.”  —  Ayn Rand

All right, Paul Ryan.  Enlighten me.  How can you be a follower of both?  I’m having genuine trouble figuring this out.