|General Wrangel FOB|
(Friend of Bear).
Nothing to do with
The Bear might continue in this fashion, just giving you a short summary of points made in each chapter or other suitable divisions. This won't be every day, but, maybe, eventually, you'll know everything that Amoris Laetitia contains without having to read it.
The Bear is interested in hearing whether this is useful, as it requires a ludicrous amount of time and patience for a Bear, especially when he could be writing something much more exciting.
For instance, did you know that in 1920 he received the Order of St. Nicholas Thaumaturgust from General Wrangel himself, for valor against the Bolsheviks? The Bear had originally served with the Bolsheviks, but as a German agent, you may recall, at least in the beginning. But human politics are confusing, and, in any case, Bears are pretty flexible. In any event, the Bear hit the WWI trifecta, winning the Iron Cross, 2nd Class; Hero of the Bolshevik Revolution; and the aforementioned White Russian Order from General Wrangel.
But forget the interesting stuff the Bear could be writing about, i.e. himself. Let's knock out Chapter 1 of Amoris Laetitia. It's like eating your vegetables. How the mighty have fallen, indeed.
The "S" Word
Pope Francis, like Victorians who would avoid saying the word "legs" in reference to a chair lest it call to mind the lower limbs of a woman, speaks of "an invitation to mercy and the pastoral discernment of those situations that fall short of what the Lord demands of us." Already in paragraph 6, he is invoking "mercy and pastoral discernment" for what the rest of us plainly call "sin." Bear supposes we should be glad he used "demands of," rather than "suggests to."
Next, giving the Bear a chuckle, he invites ordinary families to read Amoris Laetitia "patiently and prayerfully." Asking ordinary families to read these 247 pages would indeed require patience that few families possess. It's not exactly Hunger Games.
Not All Bad
The first chapter, with the exception of paragraph 3, already discussed, is largely unobjectionable, even nice, as when he describes the couple's "fruitful relationship." The family is beautifully treated with reference to Holy Scripture. (Of course he unnecessarily inserts Wellhausen's Documentary Hypothesis which eliminates Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, but what are you going to do? Catholic Biblical scholarship is behind the times, and rife with Modernism, but virtually everywhere Catholics teach scripture, this is what you get, and worse.)
Pope Francis correctly engages in some nice exegesis of the Hebrew word negeb, which has connotations of "face-to-face" for Adam's relationship with Eve.
He reminds us that children are first instructed in the faith at home. But then he makes the rather odd statement that, "the Gospel goes on to remind us that children are not the property of the family, but have their own lives to lead."
As the Bear was reading this idyllic description of the family, he kept thinking about the Pope Videos, which always start out happy, with soaring music, then suddenly descend into a nightmare. Sure enough, paragraph 19 marks the turning point, as the uniformly dysfunctional families of the Patriarchs are discussed. (If you think your family is screwed up, read up on Judah and his sons, and why you should never visit a prostitute without lifting the veil.)
Paragraph 23 talks about employment, which is fair enough, but then he veers off course into a bizarre little paragraph about "selfishly and even brutally ravaging [nature]." He unconvincingly tries to link sayings of Old Testament prophets and even Jesus to our present destruction of the planet.
We learn that Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to "try to lead a more worthy life." The Bear seems to remember something about "sin no more," but really likes the thought that as long as he's just trying to lead an even more worthy life than he already is, that's all Jesus expects.
Pope Francis wraps up Chapter 1 with more lovely language tied to Scripture, and a reminder that Mary can assist families.