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"Religion, Politics, the Presidency: Commentary by a Mormon, an Evangelical, and an Orthodox Christian"

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Reverence

Posted by: John Schroeder at 10:46 am, March 12th 2013     —    Comment on this post »

Back in February, we commented on Jim Geraghty’s thoughts about the state of sarcasm:

Jim Geraghty writes at length about the sad state of satire in our comedy.  This is a great piece and worthy of attention.  Just one quote:

When everybody’s getting mocked, there’s not much consequence to the mockery. The audience becomes conditioned to just letting the microwave-worthy instant satire wash over them and moving on to the next topic, because they intuitively sense that the figure wasn’t chosen for any particular trait that deserves the mockery.

The older notion of satire as a tool for addressing some wrongdoing or social ill may be falling apart before us. We don’t hold many of our national political or cultural leaders in high regard,….

Think about that for a minute.  Nothing and no one is held in high regard.

I could not help but think about that when I ran across this at Religion News Service:

Ladies and gentlemen, the Bishop of the Bracket, the Victorious Vicar, the People’s Pope is …. Cardinal John Onaiyekan of Nigeria. In the final round of Sweet Sistine, Onaiyekan defeated Cardinal Marc Oullet of Canada 54%-46%.

More than 37,000 votes were cast in our Sweet Sistine tournament, which was covered by the NBC Nightly News, NPR, USA Today and many other media outlets. We owe a big thanks as well to the many readers who voted and shared Sweet Sistine with friends.

A favorite comment came from Fark.com, which we’ll paraphrase as: “The guys from the Knights of Columbus fill out a bunch of brackets, but a nun always win the pool by making her picks according to vestment color.”

I understand the “fun” behind something like this, but does it indicate high regard?  I mean, regardless of where one stands on faith generally and Roman Catholicism specifically, what is happening in Rome right now is very serious business and to be treated with a certain decorum.

Like it or not, the Pope is a world leader.  Yeah, I know, our own presidential elections are also subject to this kind of stuff, but my problem is this came from Religion News Service.  They are supposed to be the real deal.  Their advisory board has some serious evangelical heavyweights on it not to mention Hindus and Jews – but interestingly, no Catholics.

This kind of irreverent treatment is to be expected from irreligious sources, and particularly from those opposed to faith.  (Stories like this, designed purely to inflame opposition are getting really old.)  But in a predominantly secular culture, if one wants one’s own faith to be taken seriously, one must take other faiths seriously as well.

Even when Protestantism dominated the American cultural landscape, and many Protestants thought of Roman Catholicism as the ugly stepchild of Christianity, Catholicism was accorded a certain reverence.  It was, after all, faith – perhaps in the view of the dominant cultural ethos wrongheaded, but it was nonetheless people making their best attempts to be God’s own – and that was worthy of respect. But since we now hold nothing in high regard, the election of a pope is not much different than a basketball tournament.

But it really makes me wonder – if we do not hold their faith in high regard, do we hold our own?  And if we do not hold our own in high regard, how can we expect society and culture to?

Maybe the problem is not just a matter of us v. them – maybe its just us?

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