Tuesday, September 22, 2015

What We Can Learn from the Pope's Visit

I am ridiculously excited about the pope visiting the US, almost to the point of Royal baby watching days of yore. I don't live in an area Pope Francis will visit, and while I am a lifelong Catholic, I don't agree with half the stuff he says.

Love him, hate him, or feel indifferent about him, he is kind of like a superstar. Everyone knows who he is. If they can't recognize him as a man, they can certainly recognize him by how he dresses. He is the leader of the oldest church (or so I am told by my priest). And, Pope Francis is cool.

He reminds me of Pope John Paul II. He was instrumental in bringing change to the Catholic church with the Vatican II, but he also brought something else....public interest. Like Pope Francis, Pope John Paul II had an air to him, a charisma, that people liked. It made people like the church.

The Catholic church has been losing numbers in droves as new generations lose faith in organized religion and scandal marks the church. Pope Francis breathes new life into the church. Nothing major has changed (there still aren't women priests and that contraception thing continues to be ignored by most of the people attending mass), but the perception has. Pope Francis is likable, and the twitter hashtags and emojis make him feel current.

Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis prove that it isn't so much the message you bring, but the feeling people have with your presence/message. If you bring a feeling of hope, you may be elected president. If you bring a feeling of love and liberation from rigid practices and evil secrets of the past, people may like you as a pope.

I hope he enjoys his stay in the US. I will be following on Twitter. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

More than 50 years after it was first published, "To Kill a Mockingbird" is getting a lot of interest with the release of a new book by author Harper Lee.  This interest is only a reminder that this classic novel is as relevant today as the day it was published with its warmth and delicate handling of racial inequality.  This one is a must read.

The story follows Scout Finch going to school for the first time in Maycolm, Alabama during the Great Depression. This moment in history is captured in perfect detail in the classroom with children with no shoes, no lunches and no baths. Scout and her brother, Jem, become fascinated with a spooky house in the neighborhood and "Boo" Radley, who supposedly has lived inside for years with no one seeing him. Their fascination turns into a friendship of sorts as Jem loses his pants sneaking around the Radley place, only to find them mended on the fence when he comes back for them later and the pair find treasures tucked inside a tree outside the Radley place.

Their father, Atticus Finch is a lawyer who defends a black man accused of rape. There isn't much hope for his client in the atmosphere of time and place, although Atticus provides some convincing testimony of his innocence. The very act of defending Tom Robinson brings repercussions for the Robinson family as well as the Finches.

"To Kill a Mockingbird" has been so successful, winning a Pulitzer Prize and topping the best seller list for many reasons. It is very readable, with relevant topics that are made palpable to children through a very relatable and lovable Scout.