Why I am obsessed with the Pope #Pope2013
I can’t actually tell you why. Not because it is a secret or because I don’t trust you, dear reader, I can’t tell you why because I don’t know why. That is how my obsessions work, something mysterious and intriguing has the ability to dominate my thoughts for no rhyme or reason. My obsession with the Pope could have to do with the secrecy of the Pope, the Vatican’s hidden treasures, and the awesome robes they get to wear.
I am an orthodox Jew obsessed with the Pope… yeah it seems weird to me too. It started when The Girlfriend (AKA my girlfriend) confessed her obsession with the Papal office and the secrets it holds. She is also obsessed with secret societies, age-old historical mystery (not aliens because she is not an insomniac who watches as the History Channel has gone down the toilet in recent years…yes I am bitter), and all other secret things. The world is obsessed with the Pope and Catholic religion, just look at the best-selling book of 2003, the Da Vinci Code. My obsession with the Pope comes from somewhere deep within me that I can’t describe (it is not because of the doppelganger-ness that the new Pope has to Pop Pop from Arrested Development). However, I can try my best to explain some of why I have an obsession with the Pope, whether it is because of the mystical reasons, the political reasons, or the religious reasons.
My obsession, or more aptly named infatuation, with the Pope may be because it is a position of the greatest power. After all he is the head of the Catholic Church, possibly the largest and best funded organization in the world. I imagine the Papal office in the Church as the top of a mountain. With an office so high up, it is clouded in mystery. This cloud of mystery, surrounding the office gets thicker and thicker towards the top of the mountain. I am from Seattle and recently visited San Francisco, so I know what fog looks like.The sheer mystery entranced me. I began to think about all of the secrets, the stories, and the ancient cover ups that could be taking place now (please see recent developments – the current Pope’s “stepped down” and the almost 24 hours it took to appoint a successor, as proof that there is something fishy happening in the vatican). The mystery, shrouded in uncertainty and tradition, lives on and only becomes more enticing. However, the Pope may fascinate me for other reasons, like political reasons.
I could write a full post on the political impact that appointing a new Pope brings. It has to do with foreign markets (what an African Pope would have meant) and what it means for American voters (the Pope’s stance on many different social issues). The question of what would it mean for the Pope to come from Africa vs. South America is one with many answers, all of which point to the political importance of this position in not only the Catholic Church but on a world stage. While the only Catholic President we have had was President Kennedy, Catholics still hold a lot of power in this country and can make decisions through their votes. A great example of the power of a religious vote is President Carters election. He made it a point to revolutionize the religious vote and did so by capturing his fellow evangelicals’ votes. The sheer power that the Pope has is something that astounds me. This power does not only have effects in politics, but also with religion (though I often see the two as one in the same (for a later post)).
I am an orthodox Jew, which means that I understand the power that a leader of a congregation, be the congregation 100 families or 1 billion people, can hold. The Pope, one man, as the leader of the Catholic religion is something that fascinates me because it means that everyone can look to one man. It allows for a figure-head, a symbol, that represents the people. In that sense, symbols fascinate me (another nod to the Da Vinci Code). It also may be the case that I love the Pope because I will never have a Pope. The Pope’s power seems astounding but when examining how much power the position holds, the question begs to be asked, does the Pope actually have that power? Is the Pope anything more than a symbol?
I am not sure. Much like the Queen (who I am unabashedly obsessed with as well) the Pope is a symbol. In the case of the Pope it is a symbol which shapes people’s perception, an office surrounded by secrecy and centuries old treasures. It makes me wonder, and the wondering bug can be a precocious one.