January 29, 2006

It is poignant...

Richard John Neuhaus must be a truly saintly guy, to be so forbearing in the face of this sort of ignorance...

...With notable exceptions, reporters are people of good will working hard to write a story that will please their editors. It is true that they are not always the sharpest knives in the drawer. These days most of them have gone to journalism school, or j-school, as it is called. In intellectual rankings at universities, journalism is just a notch above education, which is, unfortunately, at the bottom.

An eager young thing with a national paper was interviewing me about yet another instance of political corruption. “Is this something new?” she asked. “No,” I said, “it’s been around ever since that unfortunate afternoon in the garden.” There was a long pause and then she asked, “What garden was that?” It was touching.

What prompts me to mention this today is that I’m just off the phone with a reporter from the same national paper. He’s doing a story on Pope Benedict’s new encyclical. In the course of discussing the pontificate, I referred to the pope as the bishop of Rome. “That raises an interesting point,” he said. “Is it unusual that this pope is also the bishop of Rome?” He obviously thought he was on to a new angle. Once again, I tried to be gentle. Toward the end of our talk, he said with manifest sincerity, “My job is not only to get the story right but to explain what it means.” Ah yes, he is just the fellow to explain what this pontificate and the encyclical really mean. It is poignant...

Reminds me of an employee I had, back when I owned a bookstore. A customer asked if we had a copy of Moby Dick, and he said, "who wrote it?"

As a Word Note, it used to be common among Protestants to refer to the Pope merely as "the Bishop of Rome," implying that the papacy was just a "popish" fraud. The Book of Common Prayer once included the charming prayer: From the Bishop of Rome and all his detestable enormities, good Lord deliver us. (Cranmer's Liturgy 1544, removed from BCP 1599)

Posted by John Weidner at January 29, 2006 5:42 PM
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