Thursday, February 28, 2013

A 600 year Event - A Few Thoughts for a Pope and 2,000 year old religion

For the first time in 600 years, a Pope has stepped down from office - instead of dying in office.

I took these two photos of the Coliseum when on a one-day stop in Rome around 1980. I also took some of the Vatican which I have in a box and need to scan. The pictures don't do justice to what it is like being there and feeling it in person.

In the Vatican i saw what seemed like a small chair. After walking awhile I came upon a HUGE chair. As I looked up i realized it was the same chair! The hall is so big that dimensions are distorted. And so has the church gone through distortions.

As part of his exit, the Pope flew to his retreat in a 21st century helicopter over this Roman Coliseum that was finished in 80 A.D. - nearly 2,000 years ago.

So a retired leader of a 2,000 year old church passed over two thousand year old artifacts, while facing an uncertain future. I can opine on this because I was raised in the Catholic church when I was young. I even went to a Catholic school for a year - when i was banned from the library "for reading too much.' But then I married a Lutheran and Episcopalian, and it seemed to be about the same for each. That makes mea religious "Heinz 57" - especially after I ran for Congress and went to Synagogues and Mosques in the district.  I remember hearing the same sermon in each.

As a little kid I thought once I wanted to be a priest - before I discovered GIRLS. I realize what a lucky choice I had made for more than one reason. The church has been hit with serious self-induced scandals from sex to money issues at the Vatican Bank.  It's not a job for 85-year old men. It's a time for change. There was a time when priests were allowed to have wives. I see nothing wrong with that - it's normal for humans.

 I once sat in the stands, looking at the tunnels that once lay below the wood floor where gladiators fought for their lives, many of them Christians founding a new religion. Six hundred years later would come Islam -- the third religion based on one man, Abraham. You have to sit in the Coliseum and the Vatican - and the Roman Pantheon, to get a sense of these incredible sights in our world. It hits you like a ton of bricks. You can't experience it without being there, even for the short time I had.

Good luck ex-Pope. I would like to see him get into inter-faith work. We have to have religions begin to work across the aisle just like we need in Congress - instead of everyone being in their own silo. It should include Jewish and Islamic leaders. I have been in each religion's place of worship--and heard the same sermon in each one. We have more in common than we know.

In other significant news today, Syria was given aid by the U.S. - another country I experienced. This is a GOOD thing. Bashir Assad is MURDERING his own people. Obama is not going to be stupid and put American troops in harm's way, but it is important we help the moderates win - instead of the extremists...
The next two photos are Syria - first one I took. Second one is today: MILLIONS of innocent civilians are being killed or having to flee as refugees. Assad's Syria is Iran's last friend. It needs to fall - the Russians are still arming Assad, along with Iran...

Finally, it could be a basketball player who becomes the Nixon of China but with North Korea. Dennis Rodman with North Korea's young Kim Jung Un was bizarre - and even hopeful. Better to have a basketball diplomacy than a nuclear exchange.

Stay tuned...

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