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Plain and Simple for April 4, 2013 / April 04, 2013
I pray that you had a wonderful and meaningful Easter. I feel led to share something on my heart today. I am praying daily for the new pope, Pope Francis. He seems, at least so far, to be a breath of fresh air in the Catholic Church and the Christian church in general. I admire especially his devotion to the poor. My great fear is that he will soon face a backlash from those in the church who do not appreciate change and most surely do not like those symbolic actions that imply that they have not been paying enough attention to the downtrodden.

I have been stirred in my concern by a great revelation that God has shared with me. I have long puzzled over why certain groups respond to certain leaders in particular ways. Let me be more specific. Years ago, in my research for my dissertation on Jimmy Carter, one of Carter’s closest advisors said that he was most disturbed by how their friends treated them. He wrote that women from the National Organization of Women chained themselves to the gates of the White House and embarrassed Carter even after he did so many things to help them. When Reagan was president, they backed off and never confronted him.

I have witnessed the same phenomenon in churches. Vicious, petty people give gracious, kind pastors a devil of a time. Then autocratic, authoritarian pastors come aboard and these same people join the program and settle right down. I know the argument usually is that they simply need a strong person running the show, someone who is not afraid to tell them who is boss. I have come to believe that is not the full story.

I believe that the issue is, as it is so many times, all about power and control. Petty, vicious people want power at any cost. They do not really care if the carpet is green or if the music is contemporary or traditional. They simply want to have the power to say which it is. When the big bad sheriff comes to town, they simply join forces with the strong boy who will give them power and control. Then they can gleefully be on the board that decides who is in and who is out and what color the carpet is when the color is changed. They were mean-spirited before and they are mean-spirited now. They have only changed sides.

The more principled person never seems to catch on. He or she believes that there is something worth standing up for, that there are principles deeper than the color of the carpet. He or she is the same person no matter who is running the show or how the show is run.

Whether Reagan or Carter, Bush or Obama, this person lives by the same rules of conduct. I think Pope Francis is one of these people and I pray he does not get eaten alive by the other kind. Call me silly but I also think these people are the true Christians.

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