Bill Murchison

A "culture that sees everything as temporary" is, almost by definition, an Anthony Weiner kind of culture. Permanent standards of performance, linked to belief in a higher calling than just the temporary satisfaction of urges and needs, were the mark of cultures addressed by people who wouldn't have known what to make of Weiner. What kind of jerk would, let us say, behave in the manner of New York City's most notorious mayoral candidate? The kind, surely, true to his time and place, who recognizes no behavioral restraints or inhibitions (shivery old 19th-century things, inhibitions). Who recognizes "responsibilities" as things owed mainly to himself, in service to his own goals and ambitions.

Back to the pope and the beach and the 3 million listeners and to the censure leveled at the culture -- namely, that it believes and maintains and lives by the assertion that we're "incapable of responsibility." What do we want (the culture whispers confidingly) with norms and ideals -- stuff dreamed up by dead men, now imposed on live men, not to mention live women, mere instruments of control over others? As for "responsibilities," nobody in an Anthony Weiner world, sets store by dark, stale-smelling stuff that undercuts the potential for fun and a little personal creativity.

Weiner and Francis -- counter-symbols of an age in conflict with itself? I wouldn't necessarily say so. I'd say just this: Those frayed, ragged beliefs the first Latin American pope presents as the treasures of Christianity have -- obviously -- something like mass appeal. When you could be reading about Anthony Weiner, talking about Anthony Weiner, why should you show up at the beach on a Sunday for ... for church?! There's no logic in it, is there? By the standards of the Weiner Culture, not a shred.

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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