• Chris Banks

On The Two Popes, Richard Jewell & Our Collective Rush To Judgement..

Updated: May 23

The Two Popes was so well done by Netflix that between this and The Irishman (and the many others) I have to shut up entirely about steaming services vs theaters, etc. I’m just such a big movie theater fanatic. But If it’s good then it should be made-where it’s watched isn’t the concern. Making it is.

I adore Pope Francis, but what I was struck most by was my fascination (and my writing here is focused) with Benedict. Maybe because Hopkins is playing him, but don’t get me wrong Pryce does a phenomenal job as Francis, don’t let the focus on Hopkins/Benedict make you think otherwise. Watch it! I just find the story of Pope Benedict to be more fascinating now than ever before.

This man was a man of faith, a man of the church, a man of God. Make no mistake, Pope Benedict was a good man. His decision to step down highlights this. He put the church ahead of himself. He put the institution ahead of his agenda.

My, how we sorely need that kind of selflessness in this country today.

Benedict for all of his faults and all of his mistakes and miscalculations - did the right thing. He did what God would want him to do. That’s how he became a priest in the first place, by listening to the voice of God. When we cast him out as an ostracized disgraced former bla bla bla, we miss reality. Hyperbole has a way of doing that.

Instead of hyperbole we must pause, and focus on the facts.

The fact here is that Pope Benedict was a man of God who put the church ahead of himself, and in doing so allowed the institution, which he loved so much and dedicated his entire life to, a way to grow-the way the world demanded it to.

That’s leadership. That’s love.

It’s easy for us to rush to judgement when news reports come out about a cover up having to do with sexually assaulting children. Of all people to be subjected to the horror and irreversible damage sexual assault brings, we were talking about the most vulnerable amongst us. It’s easy to flip out and hyperbolize, It’s easy to do that, because we are angry. We are sad. We are enraged. Because we were betrayed. But that doesn’t mean someone was complicit in that, although it’s obvious that he was dismissive. Letting it happen, and being is disbelief are two very different states of emotion. One is full of feeling and one is void of any.

Allowing abuse to happen in front of your eyes or behind your back, when you know of it’s fact, is callous disheartening, shameful and wrong. But refusing to believe fellow men of God could be capable of such evil is the inability to suspend belief. And believing is why Priests are paid. You see the difference there? I’m sorry if I’m not clear enough with the distinction, but there’s a reality there that we missed in ‘the heat of the moment’ Pope Benedict was cast as a callous enabler when in fact he was a true believer. He should have done more, I think he would be the first to admit as such, but he was not this evil monster the media portrayed him to be or that the people ended up believing him to be.

Benedict stepped aside because he knew he had to, for the future and for the health of the Church. The thing he loved most.

Catholicism, and faith in general in 2020, have a hard time sustaining and an even harder time growing. Having such a controversial figure head at the top of that would only make growing it harder. Benedict knew this. So he stepped down.

That’s love.




Richard Jewell on the other hand, a beautiful and rightly timed film, is the first I’ve seen that left a legitimate sour taste in my mouth. A lot of movies this year highlighted systemic issues and abuses of power. Queen and Slim to name one. But the events that involved Richard Jewell occurred pre 911, so one can only imagine how much worse that extreme event warped the idea of how much power a government or law enforcement apparatus can have. That singular event, 9/11, lead our government and law enforcement/prevention apparatus to explode into being the callous bureaucratic megalith that has lead to such public distrust we see today regarding the job that government is intended to do and law enforcement is there to do. Paul does such a phenomenal job at getting at the root of truth with Richard, and how frustrating, terrifying and sad those events must have been. The film is so well done you must see it at some point, not only to digest another great Clint Eastwood film, but to become a better citizen.

The media, the law, and the government on federal state and city level make decisions (sometimes rudimentary often times by the book) and then every subsequent decision is made in a container to make the predicated decision make sense. This way of doing things would work if we kept passing laws that kept improving the quality of life and eased access to levers of social mobility. But we haven’t, one political group in the country over the last close to 100 years have been pulling us backward, an organized assault on the rule of law and way of passing laws to maintain progress and modernity of American life. It was wrong. And it’s weakened our entire system of everything. Does that mean that every law passed in the last 100 years have improved the quality of peoples lives? Of course not, but this is democracy - we keep trying.

That way of thinking highlighted in Richard Jewell, and still evident today, misses the mark of finding the truth in search of the facts.

Facts only lead to truth when they are consistent and good. Deductive logic taught me this. Good means true. Not half facts or foggy facts or convenient facts. Not half cut up facts or half processed and half made sense of. When you take nuggets of fact instead of the whole chicken, you seriously undermine the search for truth. Our entire system of justice is predicated on truth. So instead of reaching a true truth you will reach a truth that is not. It will be your truth.

Not the truth.

Knowing the truth requires a consistent, stringent assessment of essentially everything. people are just too busy to do this, each and every day. That’s why we elected people who had law degrees, practiced law, medicine or other practices.

That’s (one of) the problem(s) with this country right now. Our elected officials, for a very long time, have failed us. Both parties. They have injured our perception of ourselves, our neighbors, our country and our collective futures. That’s what makes being a citizen so hard. Fox News, I’m looking at you.

It’s 2020, and with the internet and the potholes of information that are out there-it honestly makes being a citizen exhausting. Like we are all not already tired. There is more disinformation out there today than there ever has been before.

Even coming out of our own governments mouth. (I thought WE fought the cold war?)

And no, that didn’t begin with this administration.

But this administration put that practice on steroids. And It made everything worse.

That’s why he is so poisonous to us as a people.

He is making people believe that in fact, their fears are valid-When they are not.

Does that mean that government always does it’s job? No

Do police officers always do their job? No

Let me ask you,

Do you always do your job?

Or do you have days where you slack or have a bad day or make a bad decision or make a mistake?

Or are you disinterested? Or is someone else really more qualified than you are?

Or once you find yourself in a position of authority, do you look for ways to consolidate that, to benefit only yourself? Or do you look for ways of improving others ways of doing things? You’re not supposed to be in government with views like power first. You’re not supposed to be in government or law enforcement if you have a thirst for power. The only people who deserve to be voted in our government are people of purpose. People who want to help others, smart people. People who put others before themselves. Good Samaritans. Those with hearts of service not self interest. Men and woman and trans people of value honor and integrity. Not spineless leeches who only look to benefit themselves their friends and those like minded. That’s not who the American Government was ever created to serve. It exists to serve the people, to serve the will of the people. And right now, since citizen united, the will of the people is getting ignored and actually injured by those of self interest who only seek to solidify power, not those interested in helping ooo others, improving quality of life and access to things or doing good.

That’s where we went wrong as Americans.

We voted for the wrong people,

for many generations.

And we have an election coming up that can correct America, and our course -

or further harm her...

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