Links: Symbolism in the Pope’s Journey; a liberal Greek Orthodox archbishop; an important election in Arizona


On the Sacred Heart University-sponsored Go, Rebuild My House blog, Christopher Lamb of The Tablet writes about the powerful symbolism of Pope Francis’ trip to Canada. As profound as these images are for Canadians, they also have universal relevance, especially as we all pursue a more synodal church. “The pope’s emphasis on Aboriginal people in Canada was not on what he said to them, but on learning the wisdom they have to offer,” Lamb writes. “This was symbolized by the fact that Francis wore the headdress of an indigenous chief and was given an indigenous name.”

At Religion News Service, columnist Mark Silk takes a look at Greek Orthodox Archbishop Elpidophoros, who recently caused a stir by presiding over the baptism of a prominent gay couple. This is not the first time that this endearing and pastoral-minded archbishop has ruffled some conservative feathers.

One of America’s most important elections is taking place today in Arizona, where State Representative Mark Finchem is seeking the Republican nomination for Secretary of State. In years past, contests for this office have been snoozers. But Finchem is a Trump-approved Holocaust denier and Arizona will likely remain a swing state for many years to come, so choosing who will administer the election is a big, big deal. Politico has history.

The Guardian reports on public attitudes in the UK to reports that two of the country’s biggest oil and gas companies, Shell and Centrica, have posted record profits and are paying large dividends to shareholders. Meanwhile, stakeholders in both companies – the average Briton – face only increased costs. And the New York Times reports that in this country, record profits for oil and gas companies are translating into massive share buybacks, which also reward shareholders, not stakeholders. It’s not Francesco’s economy!

Sometimes I think our culture seems to be drowning in irony, and that’s deeply disturbing. Other times it’s so rich you have to sit back and enjoy the moment. Fox News has obtained an exclusive video of migrants being taken to a church. Their intrepid reporters noted that the church bulletin asked them for sturdy shoes and sneakers. Imagine this: a church that respects the biblical call to welcome the stranger.

Also nominated for an Oscar in the ‘Unintentional Irony’ category, David Jolly, Christine Todd Whitman and Andrew Yang write in The Washington Post about their decision to create a new third party and why their efforts will succeed where others have failed. It is true that the two parties are currently drawn to their ideological extremes, but they are mistaken when they write: “In a system torn by two increasingly divided extremes, it is necessary to reintroduce choice and competition. The underlying American problem is that the overreliance on “choice and competition” as a means of resolving political, social, and cultural conflict has gotten us to where we are. Pope Francis sees the need for a paradigm shift. Why can’t these three?

Also in the Washington Post, Christine Emba has a great column about a Yale professor who tweeted that President Joe Biden’s decision to continue working while he had COVID was an example of “white supremacy.” Emba worries about the “increasingly indiscriminate deployment of the term ‘white supremacy’ as a critique of various – often non-racial, even innocuous – traits and actions”. She rightly notes that there is something well-meaning at work here, but also that it has the opposite effect of what he hears, and examines how the right-wing media uses these examples of overreaching to convince people that nothing can or should be done about the very real threat of true white supremacists.

Last week I linked a Bach chorale prelude for organ, “Erbarm dich mein”, BWV 721. An attentive reader reminded me that Bach had also composed an aria to the same text, part of his monumental Saint Matthew Passion. Even better, he sent me a link to this work sung by the great Marian Anderson. It’s splendid.


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