Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Pope Francis like Gandalf

Last night I read that latest interview of Pope Francis, which is really more like a dialogue. Before reading this interview/dialogue I always had a mild aversion to the word "dialogue". Not anymore.

Pope Francis is like Gandalf - Gandalf the Grey. I found myself inclining my ear to his words, just listening, and listening, and listening. Inclining the ear. And I thought: how many of us actually listen? For I realized how little I myself actually listen.

It's like people are completely occupied with the echoes reverberating in their own echo chambers.

He is like Gandalf:

"I was always struck by a saying that describes the vision of Ignatius: non coerceri a maximo, sed contineri a minimo divinum est (“not to be limited by the greatest and yet to be contained in the tiniest—this is the divine”). I thought a lot about this phrase in connection with the issue of different roles in the government of the church, about becoming the superior of somebody else: it is important not to be restricted by a larger space, and it is important to be able to stay in restricted spaces. This virtue of the large and small is magnanimity. Thanks to magnanimity, we can always look at the horizon from the position where we are. That means being able to do the little things of every day with a big heart open to God and to others. That means being able to appreciate the small things inside large horizons, those of the kingdom of God."  

"Only in narrative form do you discern, not in a philosophical or theological explanation, which allows you rather to discuss." 

"The mystical dimension of discernment never defines its edges and does not complete the thought. The Jesuit must be a person whose thought is incomplete, in the sense of open-ended thinking."

“No, the Jesuit always thinks, again and again, looking at the horizon toward which he must go, with Christ at the center. This is his real strength. And that pushes the Society to be searching, creative and generous." 

“God manifests himself in historical revelation, in history. Time initiates processes, and space crystallizes them. God is in history, in the processes." 

“We must not focus on occupying the spaces where power is exercised, but rather on starting long-run historical processes. We must initiate processes rather than occupy spaces. God manifests himself in time and is present in the processes of history. This gives priority to actions that give birth to new historical dynamics. And it requires patience, waiting."  

"You cannot bring home the frontier, but you have to live on the border and be audacious."

--Lines taken from Pope Francis' interview in America Magazine

Like Gandalf, Pope Francis sees the approaching far horizon, sees the vistas, working to bring their denouement in the present - working as one who knows his task and who lives so well on the ground running, on his feet, initiating historical processes.

Like Gandalf, he speaks with a forthrightness and plainness that is met with the fuzzy thinking of other people who respond only to reveal the fact that they did not really listen.

And, like Gandalf, in response to someone's quizzical questioning of his wisdom, he surprises you with a keen insistence on the subtlety of what he said, showing his absolute faith in the reality of that which he speaks of. Which can come across to various ears as both alternately jarring and foolish, which is of course people only seeing themselves and the shallowness and fickleness of their faith and belief. Which they then project onto him.

Like Gandalf, he finds himself in this position: "Sometimes discernment instead urges us to do precisely what you had at first thought you would do later. And that is what has happened to me in recent months."

Like Gandalf, he is derided and slandered for being foolishly occupied with the little people, the Hobbits, for being an opportunist, for being an ambitious usurper, for being a deserter, for going behind people's backs, for being a storm-bringer, for his weather-stained homely grey raiment (by the superior and condemning Saruman, who dresses with far greater decorum, who also mocks and derides Radagast - somewhat of a "Francis" figure amongst the Istari).

He is like Gandalf.

But this is a picture of Denethor looking into the palantir

"You have an air too, sir, that reminds me of, of—well, Gandalf, of wizards." —Sam to Faramir

Faramir is, as far as Men go, the epitome of discernment. Pope Francis is like Faramir.

"Maybe Sam sensed the same character traits like pity, understanding, and wisdom of heart in both Gandalf and Faramir." --One going by the moniker "Thorin Oakenshield" in a Tolkien forum

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