Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Enough time has passed…

…that I can at least make a semi-oblique reference to the other side of the Pope story – the side that no one on the other side of the ocean wants to hear about right now.

The Guardian bluntly runs the headline: “The Pope has blood on his hands*” In the article that follows, Terry Eagleton has this to say about the reasons for selecting Karol Wojtyla to the papacy (emph. my own):

The Catholic church had lived through its own brand of
flower power in the 60s, known as the Second Vatican Council; and the time was
now ripe to rein in leftist monks, clap-happy nuns and Latin American Catholic
Marxists. All of this had been set in train by a pope - John XIII - whom the
Catholic conservatives regarded as at best wacky and at worst a Soviet

What was needed for this task was
someone well-trained in the techniques of the cold war. As a prelate from
Poland, Wojtyla hailed from what was probably the most reactionary national
outpost of the Catholic church
, full of maudlin Mary-worship, nationalist
fervour and ferocious anti-communism. Years of dealing with the Polish
communists had turned him and his fellow Polish bishops into consummate
political operators. In fact, it turned the Polish church into a set-up that
was, at times, not easy to distinguish from the Stalinist bureaucracy. Both
institutions were closed, dogmatic, censorious and hierarchical, awash with myth
and personality cults.
It was just that, like many alter egos, they also
happened to be deadly enemies, locked in lethal combat over the soul of the
Polish people.

And guess who won.

Earlier, in my first postings following the death of John Paul II, I suggested that with his passing, maybe Poles could at last examine without guilt the role of the church within their borders. It bears examining.

This true product of postwar Poland, the Pope was conservatively positioned within the church hierarchy, yet he held progressive ideas on everything from the death penalty to positions taken on war and the opression of workers. It is interesting to watch the world unite in their respect for him, given that during his life, neither the right nor left wanted to claim him as their own.

* This refers to the Pope’s was adamant opposition to condom use, even in regions where they would have prevented the spread of AIDS.

In fifteen minutes a bus is leaving for Chicago and I should be on it.

Why? Well, I have a lot of work on my plate for the next forty-eight hours. I could do it on the bus more readily than in a car. I could return in time for tomorrow's afternoon class, happy happy, my reading done, my lectures ready. All because of the four plus hours spent each way on the Van Galder bus.

What’s the draw – a meeting? Conference? Museum? Weather? None of the above. Simply a desire not to be in Madison right now.

I like Madison. I am happy to be here. I like the people, the university. I like spring days and summer nights.

But sometimes, this place just gets to me and I want to take the next available piece of locomotion (in this case a bus, so that I can indeed work; and besides, I fear my old truck of a car would not make it past Beloit and then I would be stranded in Beloit until I could purchase a replacement), out out out, where streets are crowded and you can be in that crazy rushing mass of people and lose yourself completely. Nice!!!!!

Why am I not on the bus then? Because it does not get into the city until 6:10 which would be pretty much past the rush hour. Emptying streets are a sad thing when you're in search of a crowd.


Someone recently told me that the bad thing about spring is that you cannot sleep well with all the bird noises in the morning.

I thought that this was the sorest excuse for waking up early and lapsing into a state of insomnia I ‘d ever heard. Blame it on the birds. And I suppose Not Getting Things Done is also their fault and so is credit card debt.

Still, this morning I cracked the window even more, to enjoy that delicious morning air that makes you pull up the quilt against the chill but revel in the freshness of the breeze. After all, it being Wisconsin, tomorrow it may snow. You never know.

The birds are loud. Really loud. If I screamed like that under their nest, they’d call the police on me for creating a disturbance.

The only thing is, it’s a kind of “loud” that fills you with pleasure.

The road from grief to anger appears to be short

Two of the blogs I regularly link to in Poland have been tampered with, and in one case erased by an angry reader who has not liked the tone of the author, particularly following the death of John Paul II. I'll refrain from linking just now, though sometimes I think it's only a matter of days before I wake up one morning and find Ocean gone from the screen as well.

At the risk of repeating myself -- changes in Poland have not been as easy or wrinkle-free as many here would like to believe. The death of the Pope is a milestone here -- on par with the death of any prominent political figure. It is an entirely different matter in Poland.

The coupling of major events such as this one with great economic insecurity is not a good one. Perhaps it'll take the rest of the week for Poles to shift their attention away from the Vatican. I'm hoping it will only take the rest of the week for this to happen.