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January 27, 1999

The Pope & Bill.

Some say it's inappropriate, offensive.
But the Pope, as though he heard them not...

Well, it's really an old story, you know. So, here is another version of "the Pope Meets Bill," and why it is not only appropriate, but aso emblematic of so much we have yet to learn.

From the Book of John, Chapter 8, verses 1 to 11:
Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

So, you see, it goes on and on. The spiral of weakness and condemnation, of self- righteousness that on the one hand seeks self-gratification at whatever cost, and that, on the other hand, seeks condemnation at whatever cost. There is only one appropriate response to human fraility: a forgiving good example. That has always been and always will be, in all religions, and in all circumstances, the best sermon ever preached. And, in the end, it will not be the self-righteous values we press down on each other in our public polemics, and it won't be the selfish acts we get away with in private, that our children emulate. It will the example we set as a people and as a society in our treatment and understanding of each other, that our children emulate. It will be that example that will be our heritage to the future, just as it was to us from the past.

That's a little scary, isn't it?

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