Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Pope, the Toppled (Catholic) House Speaker Mr. Boehner, and White Evangelicals As the GOP: Commentary for Your Edification and Amusement

This is partly for fun. As you know, I'm not political — just a theologian. Just as Pope Francis or Jesus is not political (and I'm not comparing myself to either of them in terms of substance and character), I'm not political. Just a theologian writing about theological issues.  

And so I'm truly not really caught up by a lot of the commentary I read about events like John Boehner's resignation as House majority leader. Even so, as someone constantly monitoring the interface of religion and culture in the U.S. — a massive subject, given the kind of people we Americans are — I can't  help being, well, downright amused by some of the incisive, witty things folks are saying in the past two days about the synchronicity of Boehner's decision to step down and the pope's visit to D.C.

In the hope that some of this might amuse you, too, I thought I'd share some quips/observations about this topic that have caught my eye in the past day or so. Here goes:

Damn. Haven't seen a pope-induced regime change like this since JP2 hit Poland.

Way I figure it is this. In their private chat yesterday, Boehner explained to the pope the problems he was having with the flying monkey caucus, and Papa Francesco who, after all, heads a bureaucracy with a long history as a seething cauldron of ambition, scandal, murder and betrayal, as well as a unique tradition of crazy institutional proceedings (See: Cadaver Synod), listened to Boehner's plight and said, mildly, "Jesus H. Christ in a Fiat, my son, these people crazy. Get out while you can." That's the way I'm going to figure it, anyway. 
Welcome to the monkeyhouse, America.

Occupy Democrats on Facebook (and they cite Democratic Underground as their source for the picture):

Thursday was a moment of highs and lows for the speaker of the House. The former altar boy who attended Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Reading, Ohio, hosted the Pope. He’d been working on that project for 20 years. 'It’s a pretty big deal for a little Catholic boy like me,' he said. After experiencing the eternal questions in the Pope’s presence and the soul-examining questions in his address, Boehner then spent that hour with restive members of his conference discussing the details of funding the government and defunding Planned Parenthood. The descent from high to low happened at a velocity that could have been clocked by NASA.

We know that Pope Francis made House Majority Leader John Boehner cry with his address to Congress yesterday, but now the question is, did it cause him to resign as well? 
In what would be remarkable coincidence, Boehner’s unexpected resignation comes just one day after Francis exhorted Congress to put aside partisan differences for the good of the nation. Francis reminded lawmakers, "Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation. …You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics."

And Andrew Prokop at Vox, who notes the following tweet by Steve Peoples that shows why, many people assume, Boehner resigned:

Peoples is tweeting about the Values Voters Summit now taking place in D.C., the big gathering of right-wing evangelicals (overwhelmingly white), who now drive the Republican party's car, and who were overjoyed to see Boehner toppled. As Mark Silk noted yesterday, crunching the numbers in several recent polls about Trump supporters, Republican voters, and white evangelicals, these folks are now the Republican party. It's coextensive with them: as Mark writes, "As of today, the Republican vote is, for all intents and purposes, the white evangelical vote."

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