Who would have thought that one of the few bright lights in this bad, sad, mad old world would be some papal shine? Often after I read a quote from Pope Francis, my first thought is, “Is the Pope Catholic?”
And usually, I really am asking. I don’t know if he’s Catholic, but Pope Francis sure is Jesuit. The Jesuit Order’s founding mission – to help the poor and to educate – was based on Jesus’ simple golden rule that we treat others as we wanted to be treated.
I attended Catholic schools from first through twelfth grades. I went to a local Jesuit college after Our Lady of Psychological Warfare High School. After twelve years of a few young, bright nuns and a lot of old, dim, crazy ones, I was ready for an intellectual challenge. For some reason I thought Jesuits were Jewish priests.
My freshman-year religion teacher was an old, often-sober priest and seemed to enjoy blowing my mind. In one class he gleefully insinuated that the parting of the Red Sea might have been caused by drought and not by a God who looked like Charlton Heston wielding a light saber, smiting the red-dyed seas.
The Pope was recently parsing Genesis at the plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and said, “When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so.” He stated further, “Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires creation of beings that evolve.” He suggested that competing beliefs in creation and evolution can co-exist.
Cue the strobe lights!
Only time will tell what effect this kind of talk will have on ticket sales at the Creation Museum in Kentucky. Ken Ham, who also started “Answers in Genesis”, an apologetics ministry helping Christians to defend their faith, founded the Museum/Theme Park six years ago. Rev. Ham believes his Creation Museum and his nearby Ark Encounter project – a life sized replica of Noah’s Ark currently under construction – allows visitors to have fun while they learn scripture.
The Creation Museum features a Dinosaur Den with a “world-class” Allosaurus dinosaur skeleton, Dr. Crawley’s Insectorium, a petting zoo with a “zonkey, a zorse and wallabies,” and a two-hour park zip-line tour, the largest in the tri-state area. The park brochure is a little vague on the zonkey-zorse-scripture-learning connection. In interviews, Rev. Ham’s motivation seems fueled by a frankly unchristian resentment toward the smarty-pants, evolutionists at the Smithsonian who have lots of dinosaurs.
If ticket sales do falter, I worry the Rev. Ham might start a new attraction, The Pope Francis Slapping Booth.