Thursday, April 21, 2005

Heaven and Hilton

“He’s not my Pope” -- this post-white-smoke announcement came from my boss yesterday. Actually, “announcement” probably implies too much force. My boss is Methodist, and so I’m guessing the Pope would agree with her. “No, lady, I’m not.” Also, we were standing in front of a mounted television at the Scranton Hilton, where the presence of an all-you-can-eat snack buffet apparently dissolved most people’s interest in the papacy.

I nodded and said something profound such as, “Yeah.” After spending eight straight hours in the Hilton ballroom listening to the lecturer du jour, I could hardly muster the energy to eat my bag of Doritos, let alone discuss the high and mighty Roman-Numeraled.

Ironically enough, the topic of this draining day-long lecture was resilience. Specifically: how can we help children overcome stressful life events? The speaker, Dr. Robert Brooks of McLean Hospital, displayed such a nice sense of humor that I caved and bought one of his books: The Power of Resilience (subheader -- “Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life.” Wish me luck.).

I’m Episcopalian, and while I’ve heard my religion described as “Catholic Lite,” I doubt that Cardinal Ratzinger will ever sprinkle holy water on my doorstep. Yesterday’s New York Times online edition noted of Benedict XVI:

“His well-known stands include the assertion that Catholicism is the ‘truth’ and other religions are ‘deficient;’ the spiritual weakness of the modern, secular world; a sense that Catholicism is in competition with Islam; and opposition to homosexuality, women as priests and stem cell research.”

From this description, I get an image of the new Pope as that really cool kid in high school who would only let certain people sit at his lunch table. The words “weakness,” “competition,” and “opposition” don’t sound too welcoming to me.

Even though Benedict XVI isn’t “my Pope,” I’m disappointed. One of my top-ten favorite things about Jesus is His inclusiveness. Prostitutes? Bless them. Tax collectors? Why not?

I still can’t get over the part of church where Jesus forgives me all of my sins. Every Sunday (when I drag myself out of bed), I recite along with the congregation: “Jesus, we confess that we’ve sinned against You in thought, word, and deed. We have not loved You with our whole hearts. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry, and we humbly repent.” Every Sunday, the priest replies, “Our Lord Jesus Christ forgives you all of your sins, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

I want to say, “Hey, Jesus….You’re making a big mistake. I’ve done some really dumb stuff this week, and it might not be wise to forgive me so easily. For instance, instead of reading about the situation in Dafur, I Googled articles on Britney Spears’ pregnancy. Also, I wasn’t too productive at work. And I played Ludacris at top volume on my iPod. Do you have Ludacris in heaven? I don’t think so.”

In this Hilton lecture, Dr. Brooks linked children’s resilience with the presence of “charismatic adults” in their lives. Charismatic adults are adults from whom a child gathers strength. These grown-ups provide unconditional love and support -- they accept kids’ mistakes and encourage growth and change. As a matter of fact, Dr. Brooks believes we all could use at least three charismatic adults.

I wish the Pope could be one of my charismatic adults. I could use some earthly spiritual guidance. It’s good to know, though, that Jesus wants to be in my top three. He lacks the visibility of the Pope, but I feel fairly certain He’d welcome me at His lunch table. He might even share my chips.


Blogger B said...

I had no idea Jesse Anna was an Anglican Colonist! I'm one too -- and I've even dragged my wife over to this side of the liturgical fence. (Okay, she came pretty willingly, especially after we had a female priest perform our wedding ceremony.)

So if the Catholics' first Pope was Peter I -- does that mean the Episcopalians' first Pope was Henry VIII?

-- Brian (For those who don't know, "Daddy" refers to our baby blog; I'm not trying to be creepy here.)

3:33 PM  
Blogger Jesseanna said...

:-) for a second, I thought my dad had become a blogger.

Is it possible the Episcopalians' first Pope was Henrietta? Okay, maybe that's a stretch...

5:26 PM  

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