Alternative universe

Under John Paul, the church as a total culture
Where were you on the day John Paul II died? I won’t soon forget, for I was caught in a looking-glass world of improbable encounters and reactions. A friendly neighbor dropped by to deliver his boy for a play date with our son Andy. “Did you hear the pope is dying?” (Yes, I did.) “Can’t see why such a fuss is being made about him.” (I can. I love this pope.) “What did he ever do except apologize to the Jews?” (If that were all, we should have been content.) “He had the chance to do a Gorbachev.” (True, but he helped trigger the downfall of communism in Eastern Europe and planted hope in millions of hearts.) “My wife said he was good-looking in his youth.” (Yes, he was quite dashing: an actor, athlete, playwright, poet, who as a young priest took his flock skiing and camping, and gave them advice on their romantic lives.) “Must have gotten a lot of babes when he was pope, then.” At this point it seemed best to change the subject.


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