Tuesday, April 10, 2018
Pope Francis has a new "Apostolic Exhortation" (for more on what that is, especially if you are a religion-beat journalist writing about the matter, go here) called "Rejoice and Be Glad" (Gaudete et exsultate). It is discursive, and covers a lot of ground. Among other things, the Pope talks about the challenges posed to joyfulness and "holiness" by some of our social-media and information-gathering technologies. A bit:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God”
87. This Beatitude makes us think of the many endless situations of war in our world. Yet we ourselves are often a cause of conflict or at least of misunderstanding. For example, I may hear something about someone and I go off and repeat it. I may even embellish it the second time around and keep spreading it… And the more harm it does, the more satisfaction I seem to derive from it. The world of gossip, inhabited by negative and destructive people, does not bring peace. Such people are really the enemies of peace; in no way are they “blessed”.
 Detraction and calumny are acts of terrorism: a bomb is thrown, it explodes and the attacker walks away calm and contented. This is completely different from the nobility of those who speak to others face to face, serenely and frankly, out of genuine concern for their good.
115. [We] can be caught up in networks of verbal violence through the internet and the various forums of digital communication. [L]imits can be overstepped, defamation and slander can become commonplace, and all ethical standards and respect for the good name of others can be abandoned. The result is a dangerous dichotomy, since things can be said there that would be unacceptable in public discourse, and people look to compensate for their own discontent by lashing out at others. . . .
116. Inner strength, as the work of grace, prevents us from becoming carried away by the violence that is so much a part of life today, because grace defuses vanity and makes possible meekness of heart. The saints do not waste energy complaining about the failings of others; they can hold their tongue before the faults of their brothers and sisters, and avoid the verbal violence that demeans and mistreats others. Saints hesitate to treat others harshly; they consider others better than themselves (cf. Phil 2:3).
I particularly liked this passage, which seems relevant both to parenting tweens and teenagers and teaching in today's colleges and universities:
167. The gift of discernment has become all the more necessary today, since contemporary life offers immense possibilities for action and distraction, and the world presents all of them as valid and good. All of us, but especially the young, are immersed in a culture of zapping. We can navigate simultaneously on two or more screens and interact at the same time with two or three virtual scenarios. Without the wisdom of discernment, we can easily become prey to every passing trend.
"A culture of zapping." Is the Pope sub-tweeting David Lodge?