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Thursday, 24 January 2008


I received a "talking book" of Peggy Noonan's John Paul the Great for Christmas, and have been listening to it while cleani.... er, while avoiding cleaning the house.
Although I had myself in mind when I cautioned against a "papalatrous" devotion to man rather than God, (http://scelata.blogspot.com/2008/01/problem-of-unity-poses-this-question.html )Noonan's, well, there's no other word for it, gushing reminds me of a certain type I encountered when I first came to the the wide world of the WorldWide...
There were extreme conservative (NOT "traditionalist",) Catholics who hung on the then Pope's every word as if it were Holy Writ, and would declare, in so many words, things such as, "He is Christ on earth," or "John Paul speaks with the voice of God."
No, no, they could not be convinced, as I put it, that "sometimes under very specific conditions he speaks with the voice of God and sometimes he just speaks with the voice of a wise and good old Polish guy."
I'd even allow, with the voice of a VERY wise, and VERY good Old Polish, (and now, Bavarian,) guy, but not perfectly wise (for not every utterance is even intended to be, much less is, infallible,) and not perfectly good, (for he was neither immaculately conceived, nor divine.)
I'm not saying Noonan is in that category of hero worshipper, but there are times that her effusive praise is a bit.... well, almost embarrassing.
It's like hearing a 14 year old talk about her latest crush, and what a remarkable, unique, superlative paragon of masculine humanity her pimply-faced chemistry lab partner is.
Don't misunderstand, I admire many things about the late pope greatly, but her rhapsodizing about him teaching us how to die reminded me of some of her post 9-11 blathering.
Yes, Peggy, I guess if you never saw anyone else age and die with gallantry and pain and perseverance, but you know what? there's an entire world of people you will never write about doing that every day. Most of the world doesn't need a celebrated person to teach them that because they have grandfathers and neighbors and 1st grade teachers and sisters and ministers and grocers who have been teaching them that their whole lives.
She wrote a column once about applauding the blue collar heroes who were making their way to ground zero to do what needed to be done and how no one had ever applauded them before, noticed them before.
What made her think that?
Because she hadn't?
There a silly tendency among 20 year old NYU film students voting for the greatest movie Of All Time to forget that movies were actually made even, difficult though it may be to believe, before they were born.
It finds an echo in the mediocrats of either political leaning, of either coast, of any Hub of the Universe who think that the existence, (of anything, trend, activity, idea,) begins with their notice of it or engaging in it, whether it's admiration of the Common Folk, or pregnancy. (Yes, did you know that was a "trend"?)
Anyway, the sense of noblesse oblige was irritating.
This little rant was probably uncalled for, maybe I'm remembering her old column incorrectly, maybe my reaction is because her voice reminds me of someone I didn't like when I was a toddler.

Maybe I'm just a curmudgeon.

But did she really once say, "I first saw President Reagan as a foot, highly polished brown cordovan wagging merrily on a hassock. I spied it through the door. It was a beautiful foot, sleek. Such casual elegance and clean lines! But not a big foot, not formidable, maybe a little ...frail. I imagined cradling it in my arms, protecting it from unsmooth roads."


Sir Monocle said...

I've wanted to be wise old Polish guy my whole life!

Loved the post.

Scelata said...


(Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

Mary Jane said...

Peggy does regularly take it over the top. That's why I finally stopped reading her columns. For every one that was insightful, there were several of gushy memories - some days Reagan, other days, John Paul II.

I'm with you on this one. (And many of your other commentaries as well.)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for stopping by, Mary Jane.
Your article in Sacred Music has generated quite a bit of buzz, well done.

(Save the Liturgy, Save the World)