Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Minor Musing: Some Easter Cynicism

I'm sure AT&T is only trying to get subscribers and not make social commentary with this ad. The little girl, however, sums up America's basic philosophic sentiment: "We want more." Perhaps it was written by some young hipster whose has irony as his or her primary language.

If so, it's not the first time our desire for stuff has been mocked.

Americans may have laughed with Carlin, but we haven't seemed to change our views.  Last weekend, Lifehacker urged readers to embrace minimalism. The post got 96,000 hits over the course of the past week. Friday's post about the psychology of clothing already has 104,000 hits.

That's why this exchange between Cardinal Dolan and George Stephanopoulos seems to indicate an epidemic of cognitive dissonance.
CARDINAL DOLAN:Easter is always a time for renewed hope, a sense of promise and – and – confidence. But this year's special because this – of Pope Francis. As we watch him – and it's clear to me that the world is watching – you got it, he brings us back to the simplicity, the sincerity, just the raw basic goodness of the Gospel.
Look what he did on Thursday, you know. He washed the feet of – of, who, 12 inmates, 12 young juvenile delinquents, imitating Jesus at the Last Supper and washing the feet of his disciples. And he's constantly reminding us that religion is not only about faith, what we believe – you bet it is – but it's also about how we live, especially in service to the ones Jesus called –
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So this symbolism, this – not – not wearing the fur-lined cape, not wearing the gold cross, living in the – the more simple apartments, you believe that really matters.
CARDINAL DOLAN: I do. And from what I'm hearin', I – that's not part of the substance of the papacy, we know that. But it does – you know, these signs, these symbols have meaning. They wouldn't matter much to me, but from what I hear folks sayin', they matter a lot to people.
And they're sayin', "Wow, we have a pope who – who seems to d – craves simplicity and bein' with people, and the poorer the better." And as one person said to me, "He reminds us a lot of Jesus." And I said, "Well, I hope so, 'cause that's his job description." So, apparently, those things mean a lot to people.
I'm a Protestant farm boy, so I don't always understand the symbolism of the papacy. Maybe Pope Francis will succeed where humor and lifehacking have failed. Something in my cynical soul, however, tells me that raising someone from the dead was an easier task than getting Americans to follow Christ's injunction to “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt." [Luke 9:3].

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