|This may be the next logical step if one can now gain indulgences by following the Pope on twitter.|
For the following excerpt by Andrew Hamilton from Australia's Eureka Street, I need to thank Dennis Coday, editor of NCR's Morning Briefing. Hamilton has written a really insightful piece of the three kinds of intelligence used by Pope Francis and how that separates him from past popes--and most of our bishops. The West tends to over credence rational intelligence at the expense of emotional and symbolic intelligence when the fact is the human brain operates in all three realms of 'knowing'. Pope Francis really seems to get this fact. The following is more or less the meat of Hamilton's article:
Pope Francis' three types of intelligence
Andrew Hamilton - Eureka Street Au - 7/17/2013
.....Giving a lead on controversial issues requires three sorts of intelligence: rational, emotional and symbolic. When policies affect people's lives, Emotional intelligence should come first into play. It is the ability and inclination to see people, not simply as the objects of policy or as problems, but as persons each with their own face and life story. It also supposes the desire to enter their experience. In this respect the Pope was exemplary. He went out to the island to mourn the dead and console the living. And in so doing he stated the priority for others. (Emotional intelligence is that attribute that allows humanity to identify with each other, rather than objectifying or 'othering' those we rationally determine are not of our tribe.)
Rational intelligence guides and offers resources to the movements of the heart. It confers the ability to recognise and to give coherent shape to what matters in a complex situation. The Pope's action rested on the conviction that all human beings are precious, and that their happiness and welfare depend on their connection with one another. Because of that we can make a claim on one another.
For Francis, too, that conviction was grounded in the Christian story of a God who loved the world enough to join humanity, to die as human beings do, and to give life in his rising. This belief shaped the account he gave of the events on Lampedusa. For him the disparity between the societies from which people fled and those to which they came and the hostility to them expressed a lack of solidarity between people. Sinfulness was involved as well as tragedy. The proper response to this globalisation of indifference was penitential.
Leaders need not only to recognise who matters, what matters, and what is to be done, but to communicate this to others honestly and vividly. It requires symbolic intelligence to find the right words, images, silences and gestures that will invite others to reflect and respond generously. Good leadership creates surprising new possibilities that will later seem self-evident. In the Pope's case, the challenge was to choose stories, images and gestures from the resources of Christian tradition and to weave them in a way that resonated powerfully with the people he visited and with the wider audience. (Symbolic intelligence is critical in forming and maturing emotional intelligence. Jesus was a Master at this and virtually all religious ritual is designed to tap into emotional intelligence.)
Because it works through surprise, symbolic intelligence always breaks moulds. That has been Francis' gift. Papal protocol ensures predictability by insisting on distance, formality, strict adherence to rituals, elaborate dress, controlled access and elaborately planned events. The protocol for political leaders is equally tightly scripted. (One could also say it shuts up the rational language of the left neural hemisphere by using the symbolic language of the right hemisphere.)
Pope Francis has proven himself to be one heck of a communicator. People are taking notice precisely because he uses symbolism in a way which engages emotional intelligence. He is not just brain candy for the left hemisphere. I find this difference between Pope Benedict and Pope Francis very striking and most likely indicative of cultural differences between Germanic Catholicism and Latino Catholicism. I have always been fascinated by German theology and found it intellectually challenging, if very dense, but my heart has been engaged by Hispanic Catholicism in a way that seems more integrated. I can see this distinction in reading the best of the Liberation theologians whose use of metaphor and symbolism is more prevalent than in Germanic or Anglo theology. It speaks on a different level and most likely to more people because of that.
I look forward to hearing and reading Pope Francis during this upcoming World Youth Days. I wonder what his message to the youth of the world will be--and I do think it will be to the youth of the world and not necessarily just Catholic youth. I hope he has a message in there somewhere about respecting and listening to the elders of their personal and cultural world. Past youth days seem to have en-cultured a form of youthful self worship in which those of us who have gone before are useless, passe, and should just, you know, dig our own graves and gracefully fall permanently asleep. For all the words that have been written about the divide between left and right in the Church, there is also a widening gap between generations. The cynic in me thinks this was purposefully cultivated by the Vatican of JPII because the lack of experience and maturity in the young is easier to manipulate by those who choose to affirm themselves and their world view in this manner, but it does a great disservice to youth whose enthusiasm is abused by this targeting. I sincerely hope I hear some words from Pope Francis about this particular issue because it's another area in which the Body of Christ is being dismembered.
There is one other thing about WYD that leaves me cold and disbelieving. That is the issue of indulgences. I have never cottoned to the concept that God can be turned into some sort of concession vendor for chits to lessen time in the flames of purgatory, which is itself an invented intellectual construct. It's the kind of thinking that is utterly off putting to intelligent youth of the post modern world. They may read Harry Potter, but they see the world more like the Game of Thrones. I hope Pope Francis can find some words to deal with this disconnect as well, because I just don't see gaining indulgences by following his twitter account as something that's going to hook all those youth of this troubled planet who see little hope in their temporal futures.