I’ve noticed a pattern. I call it “bad advice from people who hate you”. Rather than wallow in the cesspool of election coverage I’ll describe the same process in another venue. Reporting on Papal Conclaves is where I first noticed it.
Bad advice from people who hate you runs ankle deep in the streets whenever a Pope dies. The pattern has been repeated for as many instances as I can remember. It goes like this; the Pope dies (which is a bummer) and then a bunch of guys with pointy hats sequester themselves in a room (doing God knows what) until they decide who the new Pope should be. I’m cool with this; I’m not a particularly religious man but I respect folks’ beliefs. I would never presume to interfere with how a religion chooses its leader (also I think the colored smoke thing is pretty groovy).
Once the new Pope has been selected, the press kicks in with “bad advice from people who hate you”. Earnest looking blowdried airheads with microphones will stand in front of the Vatican and look into the camera. Then they spew advice to the new Pope:
“We here at MSNBC / CNN / New York Times / America’s Pravda (NPR) are glad to hear the new Pope is such an awesome guy. We hear he saves kittens in his spare time and he’s going to look really good in a robe. In no way do we want to remind our viewing public that we spend six hours a day 365 days a year bashing any non-Islamic religion as ‘backwards hicks’. Also we think the new Pope has a great opportunity here…”
Wait for it…
“…what the new Pope needs to do is embrace changes that will increase the popularity of his religion. He should totally chill out with complaining about divorce, or abortion, or drugs, or premarital sex, or homosexuality, etc… Also, our polling suggests that young people think this whole focus on sin is a huge turnoff.”
See where it’s going?
“So if the new Pope just quits complaining about sin and stuff he can really improve the church!”
They do it every time.
Who are these peons? They say words like they have thoughts behind them but they’re just airheads. Worse yet they’re airheads who presume to know what Catholics should do. I mean how much bullshit can be squeezed into a journalism career? What fries a mind until one thinks you’re better than the Pope… at being the Pope?
Even if I could get over the idea of giving advice to a dude who has “direct word of God” on his business card, what about the next assumption; that popularity is the point. I’m not a theologian but I’m sure I read somewhere that the purpose of the church is eternal salvation. It doesn’t say anything about being popular. Perhaps they’re confusing the goals of a centuries old organization with the season finale of “Dancing With The Stars”?
Finally, suppose the Pope takes the advice of America’s Pravda (NPR). Suppose he quits talking about sin and pre-marital sex and tones down all the God stuff? Maybe he starts hanging out with rich Hollywood actors and flies around in a private jet bitching about global warming. Maybe he decides all that celibacy crap is lame and so he picks up a supermodel girlfriend and shacks up for a couple of long weekends. It might make him really popular and he’s done everything they’d advise him to do, but is he really a Pope anymore? How far can he go before he’s just a guy with an epic hat? Isn’t their advice on how to be Pope instructions on how not to be Pope at all?
Obviously nobody in the press is qualitied to say jack about the Pope. He’s got Cardinals and bibles and stuff to advise him. Nor should the Pope give two shits what some moron on TV thinks. Depending on your level of belief he answers exclusively to a higher power.
There’s something very creepy about a hack churning out 800 word articles for the New York Times who presumes to offer “advice” about something that far exceeds their grasp. This is what I mean by “bad advice from people who hate you”.