Saturday, May 07, 2005

Reese's Pieces

The chill falling over worldwide theological discourse ran right up my spine as I read the New York Times’ story “Vatican Is Said to Push Jesuit Off Magazine.” “An American Jesuit ... resigned yesterday under orders from the Vatican as editor of the Catholic magazine America . . . In recent years America has featured articles representing more than one side on sensitive issues like same-sex marriage, relations with Islam and whether Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should be given communion.” It’s a shame that all this had to happen before America could publish its twelve-part series presenting arguments for and against the articles of the creed. But such are the times we live in. Readers of Thumos, alert to the new career of Fr. Richard McBrien, were probably not surprised to see America’s former editor, Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J., singing on David Letterman’s show last night. Since the St. Louis Jesuits had been silenced only three days before, Paul Schaefer backed him up on piano. . .

Both Sides Then
(as sung by Thomas Reese)

Tears through years of magazines,
religious women venting spleens,
and gray SJs who think they’re teens:
I’ve looked at life that way.
But now it’s just a memory.
The guy in Rome caught up with me
and then he took the papacy
one sad and mournful day.

I looked at Church from both sides then,
both pro and con, and con again.
We’re centrists of your fondest dreams
as long as we set the right extremes.

An editor’s an iron chef,
foregoing sweet or sour pref,
must sing in bass and treble clef,
if editing be true.
I chose the middle course to steer
by running pro- and anti-queer
and Card’nal Dulles twice a year,
then stirring up the stew.

I looked at Church from both sides then,
both pro and con, and con again.
I’m centrist in my fondest dreams
as long as I set the far extremes.

For seven years I raised up hopes
by lionizing former popes.
Both Paul and John were hardly dopes,
once they were safely dead.
At last we came to Pope JP
and saw his good belatedly
by reading him selectively,
the blue, but not the red.

I looked at Church from both sides then,
both pro and con, and con again.
I’m centrist in my fondest dreams
as long as I set the far extremes.

“The Problem with Ordaining Men,”
“Commandments? Seven Out of Ten!”
“Ignatian Masters Touting Zen” --
It’s all within the fold.
But now it’s not the thing for me.
It’s someone else’s ministry.
Perhaps a creed he’ll sometimes see
far from my mean of gold.

I’ve looked at Church from both sides, then,
with girls and guys and girly men.
It’s time this man put down his pen
and never took it up again.
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