Published on: March 15, 2013
I've gotten a few emails from folks who, considering the occasional religious discussions that come up on MNB from time to time, wondered what I thought of the new Pope, Francis I.
So here goes...
Not being Catholic, I have no dog in this hunt. But, being a graduate of Loyola Marymount University, not to mention the product of 16 years of Catholic education, I'm glad he's a Jesuit (the Catholic religious order that actually encourages thinking and questioning), though I'm less happy - though not at all surprised - with what appears to be his doctrinal conservatism. At his age, he is probably a short-term and transitional figure; however, one of the most influential popes of the 20th century was Pope John XXIII, also a short term pope who was elected largely as a transitional figure. Go figure.
While I am pleased with the fact that Pope Francis I does not seem to be impressed with himself, and seems properly focused on the dispossessed, I do think that he's got a few months to gain credibility in one critical area. Before too long, Pope Francis I essentially has to say that there's a new sheriff in town, and say that any priest found to have abused any child will be immediately defrocked, stripped of any role in the church, and turned over to authorities for full, fast and vigilant prosecution. No questions, no debate, no doubt.
Because if he does not do that, he will have allowed the diminution of what is left of the church's moral authority to continue. There are plenty of areas in which many people would like to see Pope Francis I act - elevating the official role of women in the Church, a more accepting attitude toward gays, rethinking celibacy in the priesthood, reforming the Curia. But that stuff strikes me as far less likely, and it is in addressing the abuse scandals that have roiled the Church that Francis I has an opportunity to seize the historical moment.
At least, that's what I think.
I saw two movies over the past week that could not be any different, and that ranged from the ridiculous to the sublime.
The ridiculous was Ted
, the Seth MacFarlane comedy about the teddy bear brought to life by a young boy's wish, and who grows up into a foul-mouthed, pot smoking, hooker-chasing bear that inhibits the boy's ability to grow up even when he turns into the thirtysomething Mark Wahlberg.
Maybe I'm just getting old, but I found the humor a little wearying ... it just seems to be pretty much one-note, with the primary goal being to scandalize. That said, it is pretty funny ... and Wahlberg continues to be one of those actors making consistently interesting choices. And I'm fast becoming a big Mila Kunis fan - not only is she gorgeous, but she seems willing to make fun of herself, which I like. So I can recommend it, with reservations and warnings.
The sublime was Beasts of the Southern Wild
, the Oscar-nominated film about a young girl growing up in a Louisiana bayou area called the "bathtub," which is physically and culturally cut off from the rest of the world and the 21st century. The entire film is seen though the eyes and imagination of the girl, called Hushpuppy, as she deals with a missing mother and a sick father, all the while mixing up reality with her fantasies about prehistoric creatures being freed from frozen captivity with the melting of the ice caps. Beasts of the Southern Wild
is a strange and captivating piece of work about the clash of cultures, filled with metaphor and wonder, and featuring a lovely performance by the Quvenzhané Wallis as Hushpuppy.
I have several wines to recommend to you this week...
To start with, the 2011 Proposal Rock Sauvignon Blanc from Carlton Cellars in Oregon - one of my favorite wineries, a bright and cheerful wine that just seems made for spring days that aren't quite here yet, but are around the corner and filled with possibility.
I also enjoyed, during my visit to Southern California this week, the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand's Craggy Range winery - terrific, if I may say so, with the fish tacos from Simmzy's Pub in Manhattan Beach.
And finally, thanks to the folks at VinMotion Wines, who sent me the 2009 Rainstorm Pinot Noir - a nice light pinot that is an enjoyable sipping wine.
That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.