“Pope Benedict seems to be thinking like a novelist or screenwriter here, in getting into the mind of a person who is living a life steeped in sin, but who comes to experience a gradual moral awakening. It’s a common story element in the works of authors like Flannery O’Connor or Graham Greene, and in some modern cinema.
For instance, in her novel Wise Blood, Flannery O’Connor creates the character of Hazel Motes, who rejects the Christianity of his grandfather and wants “to be converted to nothing instead of to evil.” To pursue that goal and mock the beliefs of those around him, he founds the Church Without Christ “where the blind don’t see and the lame don’t walk and what’s dead stays that way.” The irony is that, in pursuing a life that opposes the existence and teachings of Christ, he is slowly moved closer toward Him. Though Motes’ initial actions and intentions are misguided, grace is nevertheless moving his heart, mind, and will in the right direction. You could even say that he is sinning his way toward faith.
A more recent example that comes to mind is the Ivan Reitman movie Up in the Air, starring George Clooney. The story begins with Clooney’s character, Ryan Bingham, believing that love and human connections should be avoided at all costs because they’re unnecessary burdens that hold one back from living a fun and accomplished life. As a result, he spends his days engaging in sexual relationships with lots of women, essentially focused on his own pleasure. Through the course of the film, however, Bingham unintentionally develops bonds with two very different women and discovers that his views become skewed; he begins to actually yearn for the sort of love and stability he has previously denounced.
While still willing to engage in sex outside of marriage, he no longer sees it as the meaningless, self-centered biological act, as he had. In that sense, Clooney’s character is in the type of situation the pope is referring to in his example. He’s still doing something wrong, but he’s on the road to acknowledging that it is actually wrong and therefore, he is making progress. Again, a gradual moral awakening — after a long and culturally-approved slumber — is a positive move in the right direction. This is what Benedict is discussing.” The post is an interesting take on the non controversy. Find it here.
Exactly. Conversion sometimes is a road to Damascus event. More often it is a gradual, baby step by baby step journey.
There has been a lot of good commentary on the Catholic blogosphere. Surely the MSM is not unaware. They just don’t care. They have their agenda and ideology to peddle. Willful ignorance might even improve ratings, increase web site traffic, and sell newspapers.
Lord have Mercy!