Politicians and Bishops in an Age of Absurdity and Bumper Stickers | Carl E. Olson | CWR
Nancy Pelosi's attempt to stop Archbishop Cordileone from being Catholic and a bishop indicates we are living in a confused, insane time
"Politicians have to be progressive; that is, they have to live in the future, because they know they have done nothing but evil in the past." — G. K. Chesterton, Avowals and Denials, 1935.
"The last citadel in the Western world of God-given moral prescriptions concerning man's use of his sexual faculties is the Catholic Church." — Monsignor George A. Kelly, The Battle for the American Church, 1979.
"Question authority." This well-known slogan, which has a Socratic heritage (more on that later), also has roots in Benjamin Franklin's statement, "It is the first right of every citizen to question authority."
My guess, having lived in Eugene, Oregon, for almost twenty years, is that most people in these progressive part of the woods understand "Question authority" as a call to reject authority, and I suspect that holds true for most Americans. I've joked on occasion of how fun it could be to track down a car with the "Question authority" bumper sticker and ask the owner, "By what authority do you advocate that others question authority?" The inherent humor of such subversive inversion is appealing—"See, I'm questioning your authority to tell others to question authority..."—but I doubt the conversation that would likely follow would live up to the irony of it all. Besides, and let me be perfectly clear, most progressives aren't openminded enough to tolerate the question of their authority.
In fact, most people who communicate by bumper stickers aren't usually given to thinking through the logic of those mostly trite, if occasionally funny, statements. But in an age of soundbites, slogans, and snarky one-liners, they can pass for cleverness, even wisdom. They also, in many situations, are meant to stop any and all real thought, a sort of "Oh, yeah!? Take this!" type of remark.
Which brings me to the Most Famous Papal Statement of the Past Three Thousand Years: "Who Am I To Judge?" Of course, as countless folks have noted, Pope Francis originally said something a bit more qualified and specific than that. Even taken out of the larger context, which is quite essential to the sentence in question (made at the end of his July 28, 2013, interview while returning from World Youth Day), the difference should be obvious: