Wednesday, March 13, 2013

One Lung at a Time

Once again I remind myself that writers are generally not responsible for headlines and titles, so Olga Khazan is probably not to blame for "Pope Francis: The First Global Pontiff" at the Atlantic site.  I took my title today from these rather strange remarks later in the article (the second sentence still resists parsing each time I reread it):
Perhaps his largest flaw is that he's somewhat frail for a new pope. Bergoglio is a low-key, slow-moving 76-year-old with one lung at a time when the church needs a vibrant leader.
I have no opinion on Bergoglio, though it appears he's an antigay, antichoice, anti-contraception bigot.  It would be a surprise if he weren't.  This is the Roman Catholic Church we're talking about, after all.  The more it changes, the more it is the same.

What got to me was the number of non-Catholics who were as excited that "we have a new Pope," as they'd be about the outcome of the Oscars or the Superbowl.  Though this meme, shared on Facebook by at least two people I know, was strange too.

What the International Space Station does to contribute to "the promotion of understanding, reverence and human creation" I can't imagine.  And a new commander for the thing seems to me about as exciting as the news that some small town has a new chief dogcatcher.  A commander is a military bureaucrat, though I see that Hadfield will not only be "overseeing the packing and release of the visiting SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule", he's Canadian.  That's about as much of a departure from space-station tradition as electing a new Pope from the Americas is for the Catholic church, but still not particularly meaningful.  Nevertheless, "Watch the historic Transfer of Command ceremony!" gushed the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.  And "'Thank you very much for giving me the keys to the family car,' Hadfield told outgoing station commander Kevin Ford" -- is he planning to go for a joyride in the ISS?