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15 December 2013


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Thomas Alan Parker

Point taken, you are correct and the folks piling on to Benedict was cruel and excessive. My only point is that the new pope really is a breath of fresh air. Why is anyone unhappy about that?

I am not Catholic, but I do have quite a few liberal friends who are. They seem to have a zip in their steps these days. Now if lightning would strike and the Southern Baptist Convention would stop being jerks I might even go back to church.


Exactly so. The Hunger Games is a modern fable. It's beautifully filmed cultural-political fantasy science fiction. I did not read the books, and was pleasantly surprised by the first movie (which I was dragged to). The political subtext is much more obvious in the second movie, which made it even better in my opinion (though many movie reviewers didn't agree with me). There are some weaknesses in the movies but overall, powerful and thought provoking entertainment.

According to this Wikipedia article, Suzanne Collins was inspired by mythology http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mockingjay
[excerpt]Collins has said that the main inspiration for The Hunger Games trilogy came from the classical account of Theseus and the Minotaur. In Greek mythology, as a punishment for the killing of King Minos's son Androgeos, Athens was forced to sacrifice seven youths and seven maidens to Crete, who were then put in the Labyrinth and killed by the Minotaur. After a while, Theseus, the son of the Athenian king, decided to put an end to the Minotaur and Minos's terror, so he volunteered to join the third group of victims, ultimately killing the Minotaur and leading his companions out of the monster's Labyrinth.

Collins has said that there are also many parallels between the Roman Empire and the fictional nation of Panem. She describes the Hunger Games as "an updated version of the Roman gladiator games, which entails a ruthless government forcing people to fight to the death as popular entertainment."


I'd say there is (probably always will be) a tension in the Church between its Christian roots and its Roman ones: when it became the State religion under Constantine it took on much of the hierarchical and authoritarian coloration of the Empire. St. Francis didn't have this, nor does (it appears) his namesake. So I'd agree: this is a rebalancing, but it isn't going to make the Church abandon itself.

BTW, that Matt Yglesias didn't find the parts about Jesus acceptable is unsurprising, since he is Jewish.


I think sometimes, consciously or not, we write about the paradigm we live in.

There's also the very salient fact that the publishing industry is ultra liberal, and getting anything remotely conservative/traditionalist past the gatekeepers is a chore in and of itself. If I was writing a modern day morality fable about what unrestrained progressive decadence leads to, I'd sure as hell couch it in "mythology!" as well.

Hell, the rebels end up getting help from a nuclear armed militant culture to win the war. For all her talk about Roman gladiatorial games, its obvious she thinks highly of Roman discipline.



I must disagree with Collins’ take on mythology. Her work was superficial at best. Theseus slayed the Minotaur and thus ended the Athenian tribute to Minos forever. Minoan material wealth, according to the myth, came about because King Minos betrayed the gods. The Minotaur was created, with the help of Daedalus, by King Minos’ wife betraying the gods as well. In the movie Katnis and company are kill each other, not the Mint oar. They do not liberate society by doing so, they perpetuate the brutality. Many found the artistry pleasant, yet I found children killing each other to be disgraceful. It is yet another of Hollywood’s artistic triumphs. I’m sure that another loyal to her art, Leni Riefenstahl, would be very pleased. Collins is not doing as the makers of myth in ancient Greece tried to do, set an example of behavior to follow, she set out to make money. She’s reinforcing the worst aspects of society, just as Tyler pointed out.

Richard Armstrong

As COL Lang called me, I am a proud lefty Democrat and I find nothing the Pope has said upsets me. I find it marvelous to hear him echo the spirit, if not the actual words of Jesus. As for those who find what he says to be upsetting, as I recall Christ also upset many who thrived in the status quo of the day.

I just hope this Pope has a food taster.

Edward Amame

Viva Francis!

His shift in focus from anti-abortion to the poor is a very welcome relief to a lot of us. Added benefits for Americans: during Francis' tenure at least, we will not be hearing pronouncements from the Vatican Chief Justice about which pro-abortion Catholic politicians should be denied communion; lobbying efforts by the Catholic Church attempting to influence secular law will be curtailed and tentacles to/from the Christian Right will be snipped.

Something else to hope for: a lid on professional gasbag Bill Donohue.

Laura Wilson

I was just using Dorothy Day as an example of a Christian/Catholic "leftist" whose name is held in high esteem by social justice Christians (of a certain age).

And, oh, wouldn't it be nice if I proofread!

Red words! Yes!

Alba Etie

I am wondering if Carl Sandburg "To A Comtemporary Bunkshooter " might be on Pope Francis's reading list .

Nancy K

Richard, I agree with you completely. I am left leaning Democrat and not Catholic but I so admire the Pope for as you said "echoing the spirit, if not the actual words of Jesus."
I realize that while I don't agree with him on issues such as gay marriage, abortions, birth control and role of women in the church, I also realize my opinions on these matters don't matter because I am not a Catholic. He is faithful to his believes and the words of Jesus. Too many of our religious leaders (all religions) care more about taking care of themselves then of the poor and needy.


Benedict's tendency to insert his foot in his mouth is well known, so his bad press was to some degree his own fault. It's true he was an ivory tower type, but communicating with the masses is part of the job. He did pay a price for playing bad cop to JP II's good cop. There was certainly unfairness in that Benedict was held responsible for problems for which his predecessor had been issued a pass - the notorious Father Maciel was protected by JP II, for example, while Benedict went after him as soon as he was in a position to do so.

Friendly assessments of Benedict from The New Republic, a generally liberal magazine. The first notes how Benedict initially disappointed some of the fire-eaters:


A long piece on Caritas in Veritate:


Francis has indeed changed the tone. Part of that is good PR but a change of tone and emphasis is actually a pretty big deal - at least the wailing and rending of garments from the Church's right wing would seem to suggest that.

I think Benedict understood symbolism quite well. He assumed traditional papal vestments that had fallen into disuse for a reason - to evoke a sense of continuity with the past. Nothing wrong with that in theory. It was the wrong symbolism at the wrong time, however, and Benedict was unable to adjust.

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