It is certainly no huge revelation for me to come to: The Pope is a traditionalist (especially this particular Pope!). And yet, listening to parts of his speech to the assembled masses in and around DC’s new baseball stadium, I was caught short. He’s in a modern city, in a modern nation-state speaking to thousands of modern people with thoroughly modern lives. But what he’s delivering through that huge, new PA system is a clear call to go back to some era in history, some imaginary preferred past, some glorious age of theology and praxis, when life was good and pure and nice.
Apart from pragmatic concerns (how can we rewind the tape?), I feel myself saddened by such a message. Are our best days behind us? Isn’t there anything to look forward to? Is God stuck, pacing the floor and yearning for the good old days? Or is the Christian faith rather about a recreation of the universe as we move toward God’s fulfillment of all things? Can we move toward the future, rather than pining for the past?