Monday, August 22


Imagine, the Vatican feeling compelled on the heels of an uncontestably successful World Youth Day to defend the modest, bookish personality of Pope Benedict from those (apparently among them the "New York Times") whose expectations are for overarching stage presence, charisma with a capital "C," and the extroversion seen in a Jay Leno monologue. Apropos, if you ask me, of a world captured in sound bites and 30-second video clips, in which style reigns over substance, and where thinking is eschewed for experiencing.

Excerpts from today's NYT's piece by Ian Fisher, as he describes the new Pope:

"the emotional charge ... was less evident in this less extroverted, more cerebral pope"

"a bookish ... behind-the-scenes former defender of the faith"

"his (Pope Benedict's) scripts ... unfailingly graceful, erudite and clear, (were) not show-stoppers"

"(his) style accents more the office than the man"

"his public appearances were not electrifying ..."

While the descriptions may be apt, there were enough of these laced through the article to suggest, in their entirety, that Pope Benedict needs entertainment handlers to shape a more buoyant stage presence if his message is to resonate.

I, for one, think the pope's message is more important than the medium; and, I am just as comfortable with and amenable to reading his books, than in seeing him or hearing him, or, worse, watching a pope video replete with inspirational background music and a laser show.

Elders shouldn't have to adjust to the caprice and short attention spans of the young; the young should learn how to listen quietly to their elders and to accomodate patiently a subdued personality or a reserved demeanor. It becomes a key element in their maturation and their ability to discern insight and nuance in a context that doesn't necessarily enthrall them.