Arts Desk

A Book I’d Read: The Church of Mercy by Pope Francis

chi-pope-francis-book-20140220

in which the author discusses a book he'd read, if time permitted.

Title: The Church of Mercy: A Vision for the Church

Author: Pope Francis, a.k.a. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a.k.a. the absolute sovereign of the Vatican City State

The Vibe: Pontificating

What It Is: A collection of inspirational scribblings by "The People's Pope" in re: a more accessible Catholic church focused on income inequality and the welcoming message of Jesus rather than, say, how many years an adolescent gets in Purgatory for beating one down after a junior-high dance

Quotable/Novel use of feminine personal pronouns, a semicolon, and an exclamation point: "A Church that is closed in on herself and in the past, a Church that only sees the little rules of behavior, of attitude, is a Church that betrays her own identity; a closed Church betrays her own identity!"

Thought experiment: I had a friend who did not see The Exorcist until he was in his twenties. When he did, he found the film—pea-soup vomit, dildo stuck on statue of the Virgin Mary, the line "your mother sucks cocks in hell"—laughable. This seemed sacrilegious to me, who could once recite the joyful, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries of the rosary. But then it occurred to me: What if Christ himself, had he been able to view that iconic William Friedkin film two millenia ago, also found it laughable? Not laughable in the way that, say, the racist 1915 D.W. Griffith film Birth of a Nation is laughable, but in the way that, say, Airplane or Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol is laughable? It seems to me that, if it could somehow be confirmed that Christ thought The Exorcist was hilarious, that would be a Christ—a loving, irreverent, trickster-ish Christ—that ex-Catholics like me could get behind. And, if Pope Francis is offering a vision of this Christ—a deadly unserious Christ that burps when he eats and laughs at fart jokes—that offers some small measure of hope for not just victims of clerical sex abuse or starving oppressed peoples, but for the human race generally. But I don't think Francis is going to mention Linda Blair—or Bobcat Goldthwait—anytime soon.

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