The Pope whose health condition has overtaken the media airwaves lately is the only Pope I've known. Nothing too spectacular about that; that's true for many people. I can't say I know too much about him personally, not more than the average Catholic or former Catholic knows. Like many former Catholics there are things I disagree with about Catholic church rule, but not the things that many people take issue with: my biggest problem is the distinct lack of humility the Vatican presents itself with. The Seat of the Catholic church, supposedly the direct descendant of Peter, the first "pope", has it's own city, it's own lawyers, it's own law, it's own palace, and near as I can tell, at least as much gold in it's halls and threads as the Taj Mahal. And this is the place that represents Jesus Christ???
I mean, I don't care who you are, whether you believe Jesus Christ was God or not, the contrast between life at the Vatican and Jesus' life is stark to say the least! Jesus didn't even own his own transportation -- he barely owned the clothes on his back!!! Most people today -- well, those of us lucky enough not to be living in Third World conditions -- couldn't even fathom living the way Jesus lived. I think I am one of the humblest people I know, thanks to my mother's raising of me, and I cannot fathom giving up what little I have. I've tried to do it; I spend many a night sitting at home, looking around and just generally contemplating my current situation and wonder, why don't I just give it all up, give everything away and "pick up my cross", as the faith that I belong to asks me to do?
But this is not about me. Pope John Paul II, much like Jesus Christ, chose to lead by example. And from the news bits I've been hearing this week, from what I understand, John Paul fairly liberated the Catholic church during his papacy and wasn't afraid to use modern technology to spread the message about the Good News. And as for myself, I like the fact that he practiced what he preached, at least in the sense of making peace, and making children number one in importance. He did some good things; he made good use of the leadership given to him.
Because of all that, it scares me to think who in the world is going to replace him, who will deign to fill his shoes.. Especially in light of the recent sex abuse scandal, a black mark on Church history if ever there was one, and the shoddy way the Catholic Church as an institution handled it. I predict the next pope is going to go down in corrupt controversy. I hope I am wrong; but the same cardinals, the same legal movers and shakers at the Vatican who basically said, "No, we're not going to adopt a zero tolerance policy against the thousands of priests who sexually molested pre-teen and teenage boys," these are the ones who will be electing the next pope!!! Am I the only one more than a little shaken by this fact? I bet not. It will be interesting to see how the speculation shapes up over the next several weeks as this event plays out.
Again, I must say I am no Catholic expert. Just an aware, concerned citizen.
And no cute Mr. Winkle-type stories to end tonight's tirade. Although we did have some April Fool's Day fun at work tonight: we tried telling Tom Van Howe that he was going to have to stay and do the late updates live, because of the Pope's condition. He didn't buy any of that for one New York minute! :)
In other news, I have officially come down with a very serious case of wanderlust. It has driven me to distraction. But I don't think it's going to be cured with just simply taking a vacation, or even taking a short trip. No, I think I need to start doing some serious research on finding a new place to live, and while I'm at it finding a new life to live, too. At first I was thinking Florida, because we have family down there, but now I'm not so sure. Florida has it's problems just as much as Michigan does.
One thing I do know for certain: I will *NOT* be going back to Ohio. Not no way, not no how. The next place I go to is going to be a swing upward in the quality of life, that much I know for sure, and I also know that I'm going to take my time, visit some places before settling on a new place to live, do some research as much as humanly possible.
Then again, there is something tantalizing about just staying put and trying to improve the quality of life here, not just for myself but for everyone who has to live here... y'know: make a difference. I mean, who am I to pick up and leave and find better living for myself, when there's thousands of people right here in Grand Rapids who cannot do that? Wouldn't it be more honorable to live in service of improving other people's lives, people who probably can't do it on their own? If I just stay put, I could get involved on school boards, city boards, board-y boards, I could live to become an expert, and take the knowledge I glean from researching how other cities live well and apply them here. Or if nothing else I could take great pleasure in just simply being a thorn in people's sides, and keep prodding them to give new ideas a try. Although if I present cold, hard, irrefutable proof that will probably be all the prodding I'll need.
I do think about that. I am immersed every day in the news reports of how bad of shape our schools are in, and getting worse with no relief in sight any time soon, and I feel responsible somehow. I mean, I live in this city, I drive the roads, use the ATMs, shop at the groceries. The fact is, we should *ALL* feel responsible, and not enough of us do. I look at the Pope, whose life has been so much at the forefront these past few days, and Richard Simmons (who I just wrote about recently), and then I look at myself and I have to ask: what am I doing? Am I helping find a solution, or am I just sitting back taking it all in as a spectator? And is that how I want to be remembered?
I want it to be known that I intend to apply myself toward making a difference, for the better, so that people less fortunate than me can live a little better. I could do that.
Suddenly the urge to go out socializing at a place like T.G.I.Friday's is unbelievably strong right now!!! It's Friday night, the place will be jam-packed with people starting their weekend, you can smell the prime ribs cooking, hear the clink of cocktail glasses, and the talk will be about the Big Game tomorrow -- Michigan State Spartans and UNC's Tarheels!!! Hey, that's lordeden's turf -- are ya takin bets??? *I'm* betting on the Spartans. I think my Michigan State Spartans can beat your UNC Tarheels!!! ;) And, I say they're gonna beat 'em by 14 points. I think they'll be neck-in-neck for 3/4 of the game, and then right when the Tarheels start losing steam, that's when the Spartans are going to pull ahead, and pull ahead in a big way and never look back. No overtime this time -- they're going to do it in regulation.
I don't know what the hell I'm talking about, by the way ... but I do enjoy betting!! ;) ;)