Sometimes, it’s not what you say, it’s the way you say it.
Recently, there was a small furor about Pope Francis’ restatement of the Catholic position on evolution:
The “Big Bang” and evolution are not only consistent with biblical teachings, Pope Francis told a Vatican gathering – they are essential to understanding God.
“When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything — but that is not so,” the pope told a plenary assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
The Pope’s pronouncement was not a departure; as I understand it, this has been Catholic doctrine for at least 50 years, but the Pope chose an arresting– and indeed, very significant– metaphor to make his point.
I’m not Catholic. For that matter, I’m not religious. But (unlike Catholic conservatives, who are evidently not happy campers) I really like this Pope. He seems to focus on what religion should be about: how people treat each other. His approach to doctrinal issues seems to be a process of engaging with ultimate meaning, and it’s far less rigid and legalistic than his predecessor’s. He’s been a breath of fresh air.
I have many friends who are deeply religious. Some are in the clergy. All of them respect science and accept evolution. All of them approach biblical passages and issues of ultimate concern alike with admirable modesty, looking for life lessons and trying to fathom the essence of moral behavior. None of them worship a cartoonish deity who issues unbending edicts, favors some nation-states (or sexual orientations, or football teams) over others, or otherwise behaves more like Superman (or a magician) than an all-knowing God.
Creating one’s God in one’s own image is really the ultimate blasphemy.
This Pope seems to get that.