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The Fish and I

Those who peruse James Carroll's "Pontifications," know that two subjects, in particular, obsess Mr. Carroll: the Pope ... and James Carroll.

As a follow-up to my post on "Gioia's Nightmare," some might care to be made privy to Carroll's Nightmare. It's a fish story -- not for the faint of heart!

About the Author

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is Associate Professor of Theology Emeritus at Boston College.



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James Carroll is an good writer. He sees and has that other talent so few see-ers have. He is able to write them down for others to see. There are those who do not like James Carroll, whether seeing or writing. Like most critics, they can only revert to insults to protect their dislikes, because they see dimly and are unable to write clearly what they see. More better, in this contentious time, to disagree agreeably. In an agreeable way, then, I dislike this pope, as well as his predecessor, for constrained views of Catholicism redolent of the 16th century when others, like us, began questioning Rome, the place whence the term "pontificate" oozed in such a way that a new term had to be found for "Catholic". It became, of course, Roman Catholic.

I think the only thing that James Carroll actually sees very well is himself.I envision him every week sitting in his office at Brandeis asking, "What should I say about me this week?"

This is the kind of faux profundity that impresses people whose take on reality is shaky at best. Dreams, feelings, President Kennedy , Vietnam, Iraq, all mixed together in a malodorous stew intended to induce a moral vertigo, and ultimately, hopelessness. What a dark and joyless world liberals live in!

Can Carroll also read entrails? In addition to being an accomplished interpreter of dreams I suspect he may also be a gifted haruspex.

Folks, is the ad hominem against Carroll really helpful? We're all free to agree or disagree with Carroll's positions, and to like or dislike his writing. And certainly responses to his arguments are appropriate here. But are the snarky comments necessary--and do they undercut the tone of civility and respectful dialogue that generally characterizes this blog?I don't mean to be a scold, but--geez! And this isn't the first time he's been under attack here.

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