Thursday, February 28, 2013

On Being Popeless

Though not a Catholic, I watched the departure of Pope Benedict XVI today as  his white helicopter went winging him off to Castel Gandlolfo, the lovely summer residence of Popes for ages. The Catholic Church is currently without its head of state.  There was something poignant about a little man in red shoes finding himself too frail to continue in his work, not that work of everyday, but for the coming scandal, both of the Vatican Bank and the sexual debacle at the highest level.

Today he looked ten years younger, to be out from under such a weight. He is a happy camper. I'd be, too, to live at the lovely castle, if only for a little while. It gave me quiet joy to see an escaped man happy to be free.

The political structure of the Holy See is and has been, throughout its history, politically corrupt, the epitome of the corruption of extreme power. In my lifetime there have been good and bad popes. Not being Catholic, I was not intently aware of the machinations of the Vatican. Having worked for Catholic physicians, I learned quite a bit about the church hierarchy and how it works. It functions like any high level corporation with the same triumphs and pitfalls. And is prey to the same foibles and criticisms.

The sexual scandals of the church are impossible to excuse. Impossible to condone and impossible to tolerate. And therein lies the problem: it is still going on at very high levels but not involving children, or so it seems. As the story unfolds, and the financial and sexual foibles are revealed, the church will sustain serious damage. I am glad this good man, this retired Pope, had the good sense to get out while the getting is good. And still might not survive it. For way too long, the Church has been whistling past the graveyard, that one where all their ghosts are buried.


I think I need to turn off the news. It doesn't matter which news channel I watch, though I admit to a preference, as a conservative. Many of my friends are liberals, most with an intolerance for my different point of view. I have no interest in converting them. I know their opinions are fixed and rigid even as they fervently believe themselves to be open. What amazes me is their intolerance for ANY different point of view. That's a killer for discussion. I'm slow. Took me some time to get that liberals that I know do not want discussion. They want full agreement. Because of it I have divorced several of them. I miss them very much. But it is self-degrading to remain in any relationship where  the parties are not seen as equals. No friendship can survive that.

Finding truth on the telly is very hard to discern. I look for balance, impersonal reporting...I don't frankly care to know the opinions of overpaid people with inflated self importance, telling me skewed information. I'm old enough to recall when that was closer to the norm. Wild eyed hype is the order of the day now. Look. It's the news. Stop trying to make it more. not everything should drive me to hysteria.

I make it my purpose to watch CNN, which is tolerable, and Fox Cable, but never ever MSNBC. Those MSNBC folks are not the least subtle in their pov or their lying. Ham handed, they think I'm a moron. They give me a fake conservative and a truly dumb blonde. Their commercials are more interesting than anything they offer. And when the droning isn't too bad, I watch C Span.

I like to think I have reasonable intelligence. The current Administration thinks I don't. What comes out of that crowd now is designed for newly arrived children who have no clue and no memory. That doesn't work for most people over sixty. We do have experience at living, and still retain our memory. We've actually lived. You know, wars, depressions, job losses, illness, stuff like that. We don't all play bridge all the time. My neurons still fire. But I feel that someone thinks I'm a six year old with no life experience worth recognizing, that I can't think for myself and can't find my way home. You can see I won't do well with the nanny state, nor can I tolerate being politicaly correct. Not me nor anyone else. When did i ever allow anyone to tell me what  to say  or what to think or do?

The hardest thing is to discern truth. That, I find, is elusive. In a newsworld currently seeming to be filled with liars, my best move is not to change the channel, but to unplug the TV set.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Value of Writing Essays

I spend a lot of time writing essays in an on-line class. A whole lot of time, and for a long time besides. My class size is usual five writers and an instructor. We respond to each other's essays and all of our writings are responded to by the instructor. With all that cross-work we learn lots from all those points of view. I have gained a lot as I write for those readers, who look for clarity, structure, and interesting subjects. We reveal a lot to each other. It is a safe place. Some essays are fun, some are instructive, some are filled with pain, some are about all sorts of redemption. All are very worthwhile. It is not about great writing, but about writing it real, which is the actual name of the online class, under the tutelage of Sheila Bender, a much published writer of poetry as an outlet for grief. She is an excellent teacher.she is a superior writer. She is stellar about getting her students over their obstacles and into their best work. I continue this because it helps shape my memoir. I stay with it because it keeps me writing.and in this framework, I grow in my craft. I treasure this outlet for my creativity. And as I recover myself from cancer treatment,so depleting, I hope to pick it up. In the spring, ready to put finishing touches on my life story, I hope to move it forward, correct it's weak places, determine what can stay or go, and get it out to an agent. Prayers for this will help, but in the meantime, my job is to get it done. I probably should drop a vignette or two here on the blog so you who read this might comment on it. Anybody interested?