Thursday, September 24, 2015

So a Pope Walks Into the Capitol...

I don't often write about religion.  I don't really write about politics either.  I have my own views of both, very strong ones in fact, but for the most part, my choice is to keep those things to myself and support my own beliefs in whatever manner I am able.  To vote for the person in elections who best represents me and how I feel, to look to a Higher Power that I feel is present and true, and to live my life in a way that would make my Dad proud.  That pretty much covers my Haley Guidelines.  This blog?  It's just something I mess with for fun and to get a reaction from people who don't understand that.

I am not Catholic.  I've always been drawn to Catholicism, but I think that is more for the beauty and the history than for anything based on religious beliefs.  I was an English major with a History minor after all, so even at a university in rural Tennessee, we studied about a lot of Catholics.  I have a handful of friends who are Catholic, and I've begged them to "make me a Catholic because it sounds really cool," but they know that I'm joking and that I would make a terrible Catholic because I'm totally supportive of divorce and birth control, and know that Lent is not for me.  I know a handful of other people who are also Catholics, but I wouldn't call them friends because they are assholes-- not because they are Catholic, but just because they are unpleasant to be around.

I tease and I write, but I don't judge anyone.  Well, I DO, but then I usually catch and morally reprimand myself (like right now, for example) because JUDGING ISN'T NICE and I at least I try to keep it to myself.  I mean, I didn't LIST the assholes I mentioned above, right?  And maybe it's more of a comparison than judging, but I don't believe most humans are capable of functioning and not doing this at times. Also,  I don't feel this way because the Bible says you shouldn't judge (although it does) but because I do not believe that my God would want us to judge.  My God supports the greater good of mankind and love, and judging is neither good or loving.

I have a point.  I promise.  Hang in there.

Today, while I was on the elliptical, I listened to Pope Francis address our Congress.

I can tell you about the Pope, from a historical standpoint--basically, things that I was taught in school or read about whomever was Pope at the time.  I've always thought the Pope was highly intriguing, but I'll admit that, based on my limited Pope knowledge and Baptist/Presbyterian/Methodist raisin' in the heart of Protestant Land, the Pope was not a very influential person in my life.  When Pope Francis was elected, I became vaguely more intrigued than usual because he seemed like a very "modern" Pope, for lack of a better word, and this was quite different than what I expected and from what came before him.  (I'm pretty sure that I only first learned that Popes are elected when I read Dan Brown.)  Today, when I watched him being chauffeured in his little Fiat to the Capitol, I thought it was kind of neat, and I knew that his speech to Congress was a big deal.  I mean, the guy doesn't even speak English all that well-- Spanish is his native tongue as he was born in Argentina, although he's fluent in Italian (which is HARD to speak, by the way, as I can tell you from personal experience) due to his ancestry.  Yet he came to America, where we (and our media) are often not that nice, or, maybe Fake Nice is a better description, and spoke to us about how he thinks God wants us to be.  All of the articles I have read since the speech was given have nice things to say, or give a very non-judgy rundown because HE IS THE POPE, YOU DON'T WANT TO PISS HIM OR JESUS OFF BY SAYING BAD STUFF ABOUT HIS SPEECH.  However, I am not the media and I say whatever I want, whether Jesus likes it or not.  And what I want to say is this:

The Pope made me cry.  I don't agree with everything he said.  I don't believe the same that he does in, actually, a lot of things.  Some of this misalignment in beliefs is regarding things about which I feel very strongly.  Hearing them from a figure like him feels like being kicked in the stomach.  Regardless of that, I feel something when I hear him speak that no preacher or pastor has ever made me feel before.  I feel hope.  I feel peace.  I feel like here's a guy who God might TRULY be listening to--not because he's the Pope, but because HE CARES.  He wants the Greater Good.  I can submit to that, even if the specifics aren't the same.  God never touches me in a church unless it is a centuries old church in Europe that I'm touring and certainly not attending for the sermon-- he has touched me out in nature, in my living room with my Dad when he died, in a hospital room when I held my sick 8-week-old baby boy and thought he wouldn't recover--but apparently, he also touches me on the elliptical.  Hallelujah, Evans Fitness Center.

I've traveled and studied and read and learned in my thirty-eight years.  Not as much as a great many people, but much, much more than some.  My Dad is my greatest hero, and he never left the country except for a traumatic day trip to Tijuana once with my Mom before I was ever born.  His blood ran red, white, and blue.  He believed that America was the greatest country in the world, and although I think we are failing in SO MANY WAYS (he would be pissed that I said that) and that we have so many problems (that too), I agree.  I want to make our country better, and for us, in turn, to make the world better.  Not by taking things over and forcing our beliefs upon others (this is not a comment regarding the middle east, but a generalized statement), but through love and goodwill and hope.  I want the whole world to stop being assholes.  I want the whole world to be like Pope Francis.  My Dad would be on board with that.

We need to be better.  I, you, probably even the Pope, all have the capability of being better.  We should embrace that.  We should heal the world.  We probably won't, but I'll be damned if we shouldn't give it a shot.  Failure is OKAY-- what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right?  I've learned that lesson repeatedly in my life.

My Dad always told me, "Work hard every day, and take care of the people you care about."  Maybe we should all start caring about a few more people.

Maybe that's something to think about.

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