The Man Who Would Not Be Pope (Habemus Papam)

I used to go to the movies several times a month.  As independent cinemas closed and viewing opportunities moved in-home (where I don’t have a television), my desire to go to the movies ebbed.  In the past year or two, I am lucky if I see a movie once every several weeks, preferring to spend my time in practice and study or conversation.  I still keep my eye out for a film that looks like an invitation to beauty or engaged thinking.  I was called earlier this week to see Habemus Papam by this:

“The unanswerable question at [Habemus Papam’s] heart is this: How does a leader hold onto his sense of self when the job he is about to take both demands and denies his own humanity?”  Michael O’Sullivan for the Washington Post.

Habemus Papum is at one level a small story; it is just a few days in the life of a select group of individuals.  It is rendered with charm and love, but it asks some very big questions and ones highly relevant to any who contemplate (in this country that makes a cult of celebrity and celebrities in politics and spirituality and not just on stage and screen) what it means for an individual or a ruling body to have or to seek leadership, power, or worship, or to be given it in greater quantity than the one(s) on whom they are conferred can handle.

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