How interesting, and gently moving too. A Pope, announced on Channel Four News with a touch of science, in that little detail of the Potassium being mixed in with the wood smoke to make it especially white, with a stirring and holy name name too, Pope Francis. A simple and humble man, who put aside the power and pomp of the Episcopal palace, to live among everyday people. Conservative, in the sense of defending marriage, yet also teaching respect for homosexuality. But of course, the first Pope not to come from Europe in 900 years. Then there is his identity as an Argentinian, and what impact that might have on the situation , (for Brits), in The Falklands, and for Argentines, ‘Las Malvinas’. Perhaps a a minor point, when a Pope is no longer a representative of his Nation, but of the Church. In a man who has been criticized for not standing up enough to the Colonels in Argentina, and the horrors of ‘Los Disaparecidos’, yet who has stood up to the Government and stood among the poor too. What could be more appealing though, in a world being torn apart by the growning gap between people, in enormous divides between rich and poor, which simply socially can never come to good, than a new Pope Francis?
John Snow, on Channel Four News, with all his charming enthusiasm, was quick to try and make some definitive statement, such as his appearance on the Roman balcony as not being especially ‘exuberant’. Yet, as soon as Jorge Mario Bergoglio spoke, he was full of gentle smiles and a pastoral, human touch. It is far too soon to say anything at all. Except, as Cardinal Cormack Macarthy said, in talking of this as a blessing, in the resonance of that very singular name, Francis. It was GK Chesterton, a life long Catholic, the creator of the Father Brown detective stories, who wrote a biography of St Francis of Assissi called ‘Brother Son and Sister Moon”. One of the most radical of reforming figures in the entire history of the Church. Who gave up both wealth, and his own martial vigour, to don the brown habit and live a life following the really Christian message, of poverty and love. But also one beautifully involved in nature, hence his communion with birds, flowers, trees and brother sun and sister moon.
Never missing a chance for the happy plug, although certainly not making as much money as those plastic Madonna bottles that line the route to Lourdes, perhaps we can mention a little Phoenix story then, Michelangelo’s Mouse (Available at Amazon) CLICK HERE. Since a Pope was just elected under the ceiling of that Michelangelo Masterpiece, the painted ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Where some think the hung out skin in the hands of one of those archetypal Prophets is the artist himself. The story is really about the creative spirit, but one of its guiding inspiritations, if Keats said “I am convinced of nothing so much as the holiness of the heart’s affections”, is St Francis.
So what of unbaptised Phoenix Ark Press, and all that stuff about the Church? Somewhere we wanted Jonathan Miller in Rome, the arch artist and scientist, committed atheist, to tell more than a billion people it is all nonsense. Yet knowing something intristinsic too, that it is not nonsense at all. The argument in our storytelling is that there are two languages in the world, that need to talk to one another again. The deconstructive, analytical language of Science, so vital to us all, and the poetic, spiritual, human and feeling langaguge of life, love, poetry, literature and metaphor, that so includes the history of religions too. One that cannot be encompassed, simply in terms of human creativity and imagination, by the language of mathematics, Neutrenos, Big Bangs or ‘God Particles’. Or perhaps it can, but that is another argument.
But for the moment, this does feel like a blessing, a touch of real inspiration, and out of those many names, something refreshing and new. Athiest or believer, how can you live in such an extraordianry world without the langauge of love and of blessings? A little mouse of hope is squeeking quietly, Michelangelo’s Mouse, and a feeling that this is a gentle, exciting moment for the Church.
PHOENIX ARK PRESS