I just read that 2019 was the futuristic year – at least in relative terms – in which the films Blade Runner (1982) and The Running Man (1987) were set, both envisioning dystopic futures of oppression, poverty, pollution and artificial intelligence run amok. Not far off the mark, even if the stories, as is the wont in the genre, were more fiction than science.
Of course, there is much they neglected and omitted, that fits not into the narrow, secular, atheistic metaphysical narrative of Hollywood, the real plagues of widespread abortion, transgenderism, euthanasia, the breakdown of the family, demographic implosion, and the rise of radical Islam, to name but a few of the real tragedies facing us. Neither dystopia has much time for these themes, for they would bring troubling thoughts to mind, like God, the moral law and such, thoughts that have been buried deep in most of the Western hemisphere, as more people, especially the young, eschew their religious duties for a vague ‘spirituality’ that imposes no demands on us at all, leaving us ironically free to enslave ourselves to the fickle nature of our passions.
And, on religion and Islam, the Holy Father is in the United Arab Emirates, one of the more ‘liberal’ of Islamic nations, where many non-Muslims, especially Asians and Phillipinnos, go to work, in relative freedom, with emphasis on ‘relative’. Building bridges with the religion of the ‘Prophet’ is a noble endeavour, so long as such opens a door to conversion for those willing – and brave enough – to take it. For apostasy in the religion of peace is punishable by death, a rather formidable obstacle to those pondering an Islam-to-Catholicism updated version of Newman’s Apologia pro Vita Sua. More like an apologia pro mea fatwa.
There are more than a few who would like to inflict such a punishment on the Pope, which is likely one reason why Francis is the first pontiff to visit the Arabian peninsula. I am glad to hear that he will offer the first outdoor Mass there (for all other such liturgical celebrations must be indoor and sort of ‘secret’, so as not to offend sensibilities). Pray for the grace of metanoia – that changing of the heart – of many, away from whatever is false and towards the fullness of truth.
And another Super Bowl come and gone, like most of the ephemera in this passing life, and more ephemeral than most, already described as the Super Bore. In accord the principle that most professional sports are an over-rated boondoggle, I did not watch. Not only was it the lowest scoring Super Bowl in history, but football – an ironic name for an American sport where one’s foot rarely touches the ball, and which really should be called hand-running-passing ball – is one of the most boring of sports. As I wrote meditating on this theme a few years ago now, in the average 2-hour plus ‘football’ game, there are, on average, about 11 minutes of actual playing of football. Almost all of what you watch in the other 169 minutes or so are players dawdling around, cheerleaders bouncing around, replays, commentaries and commercials. To paraphrase the Bard, much ado about not all that much. But if it offers some note of hope and inspiration to people – Tom Brady, six-time champion with his wife and children in tow – so be it. People need heroes, and we must often take what solace we might get in this troubled and fractious world, as the all-too-real evolving – or devolving – 2019 dystopia closes in around us. God has it all in hand, far more so than Brady.