Baker Academic

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

2013 Man of the Year

Today Pope Francis I won Time's Person of the Year. Now, the cynic in me wonders who we might see if the cameras were turned off. But I can't help but hope that the rumors are true. Truth be told, I care very little about who wins "Person of the Year". But I do care that people with power use it to serve the powerless.

At the risk of evoking "Jesus" during the most Jesusy time of the year on the most Jesusy blog that I know of, I care that the Pope is attentive to the longstanding portrait of a humbled and humbling Jesus. I am not the sort of fellow who forgets easily. A couple years of good PR and happy distraction cannot cover centuries of shame.

But in the face of systemic evil, a simple act of courage can do wonders.



  1. Dear Anthony,

    Could you spell out what you mean by this post? Why in a post on Pope Francis do you link to a book about the crimes of the Nazis and speak about "centuries of shame"? What is the connection with the Nazis are you trying to make? And what exactly is the "systemic evil" to which you are referring?

    We Catholics out here are wondering.

  2. Brant, thank you for asking. I am a big fan of Francis I (what I know of him, anyway). Moreover, I do not see him as an outsider to my faith. Indeed his face more than any other represents contemporary Christianity, and this includes me.

    I am also convinced that Christians tend to have short and self-serving memories. Just today I was reading this from Katharina von Hellenbach’s magnificent book, _The Mark of Cain_ (link provided above) :

    The much-invoked resistance of the churches turned out to have been much less principled than the official narrative allowed. The churches were much more receptive and appreciative of the anticommunist, antisemitic, nationalist, and law-and-order policies of National Socialism than they cared to remember after 1945. Historians have now roundly rejected the self-serving story line that formed the basis of these early [narratives]. This message actively overlooked the failure of Christianity not only on the personal level but also on the institutional and doctrinal levels. (42)

    I wish that I could provide more of her book here. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in a realistic picture of how we Christians tend to celebrate our accomplishments in the present while diminishing or deleting our failures of the immediate past.

    In this, we Protestants stand together with our Catholic siblings. Remembering our common failures together can be an important move toward healing.


  3. He's just Francis, not Francis I.

  4. What are your thoughts on the Pope's more radical (at least in the eyes of some) statements, such as in his homily when he at least seemed to infer that good works brought about redemption, or in his interview with La Repubblica where he was quoted as saying, "Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place." I do quite admire Pope Francis, and it is refreshing to see loving, Christ-like Christians rather than the small minority of scornful ones focused on by the media. On the other hand, theologically he causes me to question, but I also may be misinterpreting what he is meaning to say. Do you find error in some of the things he has said or do you support him in these statements?