The NYT didn’t allow room for comments on this article, but here’s how I wanted to respond to Father James Martin’s apparent kickoff to the beatification of his Holy Father the Pope who seems to resemble, in his mind, their Father in Heaven. . .or at least His Famous Son.
As the beatification of the resigning and resigned pope is gearing up, I find it strange that once again the regal robed “Vicar of Christ” is so quickly elevated in comparison with the tattered robed and lowly lord of the “original” gospel story. What I find particularly curious, especially as a former clerical follower of the very non-Catholic, non-Christian Jesus, is Mr. Martin’s proclamation that Benedict’s “greatest legacy” is his book on Jesus where he addresses, if not answers, “the most important question a Christian can ask: Who is Jesus?”
Curious. Really? That’s the most important question, the answer to which is the Vicar of Christ’s greatest legacy? Hmm. Odd indeed. One could say, if one was being sarcastic (ok, I’m one), that we probably don’t need to read a book by the Holy Representative of Jesus on Earth to guess the answer to the question posed. . .do we? And, stranger still, why would this question be the most important question a “Christian” can ask? Wouldn’t it be the most important a non-Christian can ask? I’d be bewildered, if I wasn’t so. . .unsurprised.
I’ll cut to the chase, since I’m not going to take the bait and chase this one very far. Herein lies the Greatest Distraction in History which is Religion, which is Faith, which is, not so much Jesus, as “the Faith” in him. You see, if the most important question for a believer to ask is “Who is my God?”–then what happens to the “lesser” questions such as, “How do I live a good, ethical, meaningful life whether I believe in one god or another or none at all?”
That may not be the greatest or most important question for a Christian, at least for Mr. Martin, but for the rest of us inside or outside the walls of faith, I would audaciously suggest this is far and away the “most important question” Jesus himself might ask, were he to come out of retirement.