Two Popes and a Jewish Philosopher

No Joke

Are you Catholic?
Jewish?

I’m neither.

Do you find it interesting how the mind draws all sorts of conclusions at the mention of a label?

Catholic conjures childhood Saturday afternoons when my neighborhood friends popped into their church at the end of mass to collect a bulletin—so that they’d have proof of attendance for their parents.
Ironic? Church cheating?
Catholic
means kneelers attached to pews, a truncated Lord’s Prayer (compared to my Lutheran version), shaking hands to offer peace, and….church….on Saturday?

For most of my life, Jewish wasn’t on my radar screen. If there were Jews in my small town, I didn’t know it.
Jewish and Holocaust walk hand in hand. I’ve watched Schindler’s List, visited the museum in Washington DC three times, read Anne Frank’s diary, and The Book Thief.
There’s Israel, and the Holy Lands—little hats and beards. Bar and bat mitzvahs.

The internet and writing have given me the gift of many Jewish friends.
I’m embarrassed to admit that despite repeated descriptions of holidays and traditions, I can’t keep them straight in my head.
It’s truly hard to remember things when you haven’t felt them.
What’s knowledge without belief?


So there was this Orthodox Jew named Martin Buber who believed God was found in our relationships with one another. When we treat relationship as dialogue,
You, Me, and God makes three?

Finding God takes work—to first notice, and then set aside, all of the label pictures we have in our minds. To open.
If I treat you as an It, delivering a monologue, God doesn’t join us.

I like Buber’s philosophy.

Many of my favorite stories share the power of two disparate bodies building life together through I/Thou—Me/You conversations.

Let’s see…Hoke and Miss Daisy, Nathaniel and Steve, Charles and Edward, and my most recent find, Benedict and Francis—The Two Popes.

The Netflix movie is based on anchoring events, and colored in with a whole lot of imagination.
Kind of like our own lives?

Jorge Mario Bergoglio wrote a letter to Pope Benedict requesting retirement from his Argentinian Cardinal position. Bergoglio was conflicted about the direction of the church. Benedict summoned Bergoglio to the Vatican. The film portrays two men who see the world through very different glasses. When God joined them, a new world opened to view.

When is the last time you invited God into your conversations?
Can you silence your inner voice so that you can hear?