Sunday, November 05, 2006

Back Link An Interesting and Provoking Idea

I am reading the book, Teacher Man, by Frank McCourt. As with Angela’s Ashes, I am overwhelmed with the eloquence of style and his forgiving nature. It is hard to imagine someone who has suffered a childhood such as his growing up and becoming an elderly (he was 66 years old when he published Angela’s Ashes) man with such a grand and generous heart.

He wrote one of the most brilliant prologues in Teacher Man. It starts with:

“If I knew anything about Sigmund Freud and psychoanalysis I’d be able to trace all my troubles to my miserable childhood in Ireland. That miserable childhood deprived me of self-esteem, triggered spasms of self pity, paralysed my emotions, made me cranky, envious and disrespectful of authority, retarded my development, crippled my doings with the opposite sex, kept me from rising in the world and made me unfit, almost for human society…

… I could lay blame. The miserable childhood doesn’t simply happen. It is brought about. There are dark forces. If I am to lay blame it is in a spirit of forgiveness. Therefore, I forgive the following: Pope Pius XII, the English in general and King George VI in particular…”

Frank McCourt

When I read this part of the prologue I was totally intrigued and provoked by the idea that we, the little guys, have to learn to forgive the Pope. Forgive this man the misuse of his powers that kept/keeps many people living in servitude and ignorance. My forefathers were Irish Catholics. I was raised in Quebec at a time when the priests still told their congregations who to vote for (amongst other things). And my Italian mother-in-law had nine children even though, after the birth of her first child, the mid-wife warned my father-in-law that she might not survive another labour and he should content himself with one child.

I am just fascinated with the concept that perhaps what is needed in this time of the AIDS epidemic, over-population, no consideration to allow women to become priests, continued insistence of celibacy, etc. is for all of us little people to practice a collective act of forgiveness.


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