New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - June 7, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas
Page BA — HeraLD-ZeitUNG — Saturday, June 7, 2003Religion
Contact Features Editor Brian Grant, 625-9144 ext. 222
Globe-trotting pope marks 100th foreign tour
Spiritual junk food makes world obese
A recent article about obe-8ity caught my attention. It suggested that the waistline of the world’s population continues to increase. This is due to factors beyond mere caloric intake.
This is old news. More intriguing is the even larger |X)ssibility that obesity is not limited to one’s physical condition. The not-so-subtle parallel between physical and spiritual fatness is far more fascinating.
One reason given for the overweight condition of the world Is “cheap, mass-produced processed foods."
This condition is matched in our Christian experience. Spirit ual diets of most Christians are unhealthy at best, destructive at worst.
flunk food or “church candy’’ is standard fare, and it is distributed by pulpiteers each Sunday morning. Sermons that consist of cheap and mass-produced processed material lead the consumer to believe not only that the* food being offered Is good for them, but that it is the best food available. The .result is spiritual obesity.
■ ‘ * A second reason given for global obesity is “advertising jepid marketing of junk food.”
' inquest ionably, junk food is both more attractive and tastier than vegetables. This ..strategy is certainly not for-* Tyign to the church world.
Churches find themselves advertising and marketing spiritual junk food rn order to attract “customers.” Programs and preachers titillate and tease with cake and ice cream because promoting peas and carrots rarely draws a crowd. We have become experts at disguising vegetables under a mound of whipped cream.
The third piece of advice offered to reverse this trend toward expanded waistlines was “get people moving any way |X)ssible.” This is a tab order in a world that generally has embraced a very sedate and inactive lifestyle in and out of the church.
Personal spiritual health suffers from the same dilemma. Pew potatoes who live their spirituality vicariously through ministers enlarge their spiritual girth. Flabbiness has no chance where Jesus is allowed to lead and live in our lives.
We are active because He is active.
As an obese person cannot get in shape by merely watching exercise programs on TV, neither can a Christian be spiritually fit by watching ministers and musicians perform on Sunday. At some point they must engage in spiritual activity that burns the excess spiritual fat that collects around the soul.
The paper said the world has as many obese people as starving people. Sadly, I cannot help but think that the same could bt1 said about the spiritual world as well.
(I lie lieu. 'lim Judkins is the teaching minister at First Protestant Church.)
By Victor L. Simpson
Associated Press Writer
VATICAN CITY — He has shuffled to tribal music, stared down dictators and taken on journalists anxious to hear the views of St. Peter’s successor.
Almost nothing has defined Pope John Paul lls pontificate as much as his foreign tours. Despite his age and infirmities, John Paul sets out Thursday on No. IOO, five days in Croatia, a Roman Catholic stronghold in the Balkans.
With the Croatia trip, the 83-year-old pope will have been on the road for an amazing 575 days — nearly I 1/2 years of his pontificate, according to Vatican Radio, which keeps statistics on papal travel.
From the start of his papacy, he made clear that in this global age, global travel was required. Almost immediately upon his election in October 1978, he accepted an invitation to the Dominican Republic and Mexico for a trip his predecessor, John Paul I, had turned down. That was trip No. I in January 1979, the stall of travel to 129 countries.
Upon arriving, he would kneel and kiss the ground, a practice he has given up because Parkinson’s disease and hip and knee ailments have made him too weak to bend down. On recent trips, he has blessed a pot of soil held up to him.
Aboard the chartered Alitalia jetliner, he began the tradition of airborne news conferences. Walking down the aisles in the press section in the rear of the plane, John
Agence France Presse Photo
Pope John Paul ll waves to the crowd gathered in the harbor of Rijeka, Croatia, as he disembarks from a catamaran upon his arrival Thursday. The Pope started his 100th overseas trip.
Paul answered questions posed in half dozen languages, raising eyebrows among Vatican officials who thought the exercise undignified.
Flying to South America, he defined Chile under Auguste Pinochet as “dictatorial” and said it was the pope’s “task” to speak out against human rights abuses.
On another trip, asked what he thought of Pope Pius XII, the controversial World War II pontiff, he responded without a pause, “A great pope.”
Pressed why he received Austrian President Kurt Waldheim, who was accused of complicity in war crimes, he snapped, “He was elected democratically in a democratic country.”
Returning from a grueling two-week trip to Bangladesh, Singapore, the F'iji Islands,
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New Zealand and Australia in 1986, this correspondent was asked to join the pope at dinner in the first-class section of the Qantas jumbo jet A weary John Paul persistently asked questions about his pilgrimage and expressed fascination that Australians seemed more American than British.
The news conference, like the ground-kissing ceremony, has been dropped, with Vatican officials blaming the pope’s lack of mobility.
John Paul has always drawn huge crowds, but no pilgrimage has drawn the raw emotion or had the political impact as the first of his nine trips to his native Poland. It was the height of the Cold War: Soviet-made armored vehicles, in a show of disrespect, trampled flowers strewn on the motorcade route. John Paul winced every time police pushed back Poles seeking to greet him.
His presence rallied Poles, giving them the courage to form the Solidarity trade union, which sowed the seeds for collapse of communism across eastern Europe a decade later.
As he left the country last August, teary-eyed Poles at his last public appearance pleaded “stay with us.”
John Paul, an actor as a young man and also a playwright, seemed to thrive on such moments, whether it was celebrating Mass in Havana beneath giant portraits of
Christ and Che Guevera or praying at Jerusalem’s Western Wall.
There were also the moments off center stage, such as a visit to a steamy hospital in Santo Domingo or to an outpost of Catholicism on dusty Flores island in mainly Muslim Indonesia, assuring the tiny flock they, too, were important to the church.
The 100th trip has come in a year of milestones for John Paul. He recently became the fourth-longest-serving pope in history and will mark his 25th year as pontiff in October.
He intends to keep going, even if it means using lifts to get on and off planes, elevators to reach the altar and hydraulic chairs to celebrate Mass while seated.
Ahead of him this year are a June 22 day trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina and a late-August pilgrimage to Mongolia, a mainly Buddhist country with a Catholic population of only 170.
“Going that far for so few would really symbolize this papacy,” said his spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls.
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