Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Polling Papal Possibilities: Presumptuous Public Postulations

We have become trained to expect to get what we want.

I know polls are ubiquitous in our culture, but we are becoming the kind of society that expects polls to have some kind of sway over our public life. Our political climate, for instance, has given us the sense that if most people want something, they have a decent shot of getting it. If 58% of people think politicians should crack pink Easter eggs on their heads, then we expect that some will actually do it.

The Vatican, however, is a different matter. Reading about the polls done on what Americans and American Catholics would like to see out of the next Papacy strikes me as a collision of worlds. Politicians tend to look to polls for a good deal of their guidance; I am imagining that if the Vatican catches wind of these polls, the response will be, “who cares?” Who cares if most American Catholics, or just most Americans want the next Pope to be more “liberal” on stem cell research or abortion? The Papal stance on such matters is not a function of public opinion-it is a function of truth.

Most of all, the juxtaposition of these kinds of polls and the role of Catholic theology (or any orthodox theology for that matter) is a powerful reminder of how narcissistic we have become. From political push polls to postmodern churches we are trying very hard to make the world around us look like what we think it should be. We desperately want “them” to look like “us”; we really want God to look like me.

And yet the church goes on through wave after wave of cultural change and call after call for change in the church. And that is exactly how it should be. Too many people to count have prophesied the church must change or die-and the church has buried each and every one of them.


Bob Robinson said...

I agree. Thanks.

The title for your post reminds me of one of my favorite movie lines, from Broadcast News.

After the anchorman overuses alliteration in his reporting the news, the character who dislikes him looks at the TV and says,
"A lot of alliteration from anxious anchors placed in powerful posts."

Whenever I see clever use of alliteration (like your post), I am reminded of that line--a clever use of alliteration!

Catez said...

Good post phil. here's my trackback:
Trackback from Allthings2all:
Victims or Conquerors?

Excerpt:One of the dilemmas that sometimes occupies my mind is that of how to engage the culture of the world around me without falling into either a victim position or a controlling one. This is not a unique problem...

Phil Steiger said...

Thanks for all the kind words!