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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 12/31/19

Looking Back and Looking Ahead

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) December 31, 2019: Even though we may express our measure and estimate of various persons, places, and things in qualitative terms, we tend to express certain measures in quantifiable (countable) terms (e.g., "December 31, 2019"), and then we also tend to attach significance to certain numerical terms. For example, on my last birthday, I turned 75, which seems like a personal milestone in a way that turning 74 did not.

More recently, I published my 400th OEN article (over roughly ten years in retirement), which also seems like another milestone of a sort in a way that publishing my 399th OEN article did not.

We tend to think of 20/20 vision as the gold-standard for our eyesight, and so the advent of 2020 might be the advent of a special year, eh? Stay tuned.

In any event, it has become customary to use the end of the year as an occasion for looking back over the year. However, the end of the year 2019 also marks the end of a decade and the beginning of a new decade, not just the beginning of a new year.

When I look back over my OEN articles in 2019, I notice that I frequently wrote about Pope Francis and President Donald J. Trump.

When I think back over the decade of the 2010s, during which I published most of my 400 OEN articles, I have to single out for special attention the election on March 13, 2013, of the Italo-Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio (born in 1936 in Buenos Aires to Italian parents who had immigrated to Argentina). He took the name of Pope Francis in honor of the medieval Italian St. Francis of Assisi.

Pope Francis is also the first Jesuit pope. When I was in the Jesuits (1979-1987), Pope John-Paul II was so unhappy with the Jesuits that he appointed a man of his own choice to take over as the head of the order an extraordinary move. Consequently, when I left the Jesuits in 1987, I never expected to see a Jesuit elected as pope. But it happened in 2013.

When I look back over my OEN articles in 2019, I would single out for special attention my OEN article "Pope Francis on Evil and Satan" (dated March 24, 2019):

When I look back over the decade of the 2010s, I would single out Pope Francis' 2015 eco-encyclical as the most urgent book published in the 2010s. I know, I know, it is not customary to refer to lengthy papal encyclicals as books, even though certain encyclicals have been published as books. For example, in 2015, Melville House in Brooklyn and London published the Vatican's official English translation of Pope Francis' eco-encyclical as the book Encyclical on Climate Change & Inequality: On Care for Our Common Home, with an Introduction by Naomi Oreskes of Harvard University (pages vii-xxiv).

As I say, arguably Pope Francis' 2015 eco-encyclical is the most important book published in the 2010s, but Pope Francis has still got his work cut out for him in 2020 as the titular head of the Roman Catholic Church and in the decade ahead as he continues his efforts to counter the understandable disillusionment of practicing Catholics with the bishops' complicity in the priest-sex-abuse and cover-up scandals.

Now, it is still too soon to say how practicing Catholics will react to Frederic Martel's 2019 book in French In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy, translated by Shaun Whiteside (Bloomsbury Continuum). However, even if practicing Catholics take certain gaydar claims made by Martel with a grain of salt, certain other claims he makes are disturbing. See my OEN book review "Perceptive Book About Gay Vatican Clerics" (dated February 25, 2019):

Now, when I look back over the decade of the 2010s in American politics, I have to single out President Barack Obama's tepid campaigning in the 2010 mid-term elections as an enormous blunder, because the Republicans made real gains in the 2010 mid-term elections.

As the 2012 elections approached, the paranoid style of the Republicans (to use Richard Hofstadter's famous terminology) was going full throttle, as Bill Press shows in his 2012 book The Obama Hate Machine: The Lies, Distortions, and Personal Attacks on the President and Who Is Behind Them (Thomas Dunne Books/ St. Martin's Press). Nevertheless, President Obama managed to win re-election in 2012.

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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