Ridin' for the brand
Thinking lately about Louis L'Amour, my favorite conservative philosopher. L'Amour is hard to quote, because he wrote parables instead of pithy epigrams. Every story was about advancing civilization against entropy and savagery. One constant theme was 'riding for the brand', which meant loyalty to the purposes of your employer or belief. Why be loyal? Because that's the best way to improve the breed. Each rancher, storekeeper, town, and religion has its own way of doing things. If too many of the riders, clerks, citizens or parishioners apply those principles loosely or moderately, we'll never learn
which way gives us civilization and which way should be avoided.
So I'm gloriously happy that the Roman Church is ridin' tall in the saddle with its own brand. Over the centuries, this big spread has given us a whole lot of grade-A prime culture and learning, while occasionally palming off some rotten stock. Looks like their new foreman aims to show what the brand stands for, fattening up the good stock and culling the bad. Good for him, good for the church, good for the world.
Update: a couple of irrelevant/irreverent comments upon watching Benedict's first mass in the Sistine Chapel.
Benedict has an interesting face. Something like intellectual fire in those eyes. You don't often see such sharpness in high officials, secular or sacred; the process of rising in a large organization tends to squash it.
Benedict is evidently at home in Latin; crisp pronunciation in the German style, and obviously knows what he's saying. Not so with most of the Cardinals. They looked just as forlorn and lost as any random group of modern church-goers.
Losing Latin was bad for the brand. Church should bring it back. Also, the Vatican really should hire a cantor who can carry a tune, and make a professional-quality hat for the Pope. Leave the guitars and mediocrity to the Protestants; focus on conveying beauty and majesty.