Word Counts

typewriterI remember in college and grad school how we did word counts for papers the old-fashioned way–with stone knives and bearskins estimating one word for every six typewriter keystrokes. Profs didn’t want to count spaces either, so they usually asked for pages.

With Laudato Si’ in the era of modern tech, it’s easy enough to note 40,000 words, give or take. 200 leaflet pages or 77 in a term paper format–either way Pope Francis gets an A from me.

Not so from one or two sourpuss commentaries I noticed yesterday. Why, the pope doesn’t hardly mention Jesus. And even then not until way into the document–too far for some people to read on day one, embargo or not.

Too bad those ctrl-f folks didn’t try their pc acumen on a document like Humanae Vitae. My word check on Jesus or Christ showed a ratio of 68 to 11 in favor of the later document. Not that anybody’s keeping score.

Is there really much to compare between the two? Each topic involves science. Each has a moral dimension ignored in some quarters. Each involves controversy. Each has a pope spinning the threads of theology into an issue that has wide interest well beyond a gathering of Catholics.

Honestly, I am trying to avoid the innumerable commentaries out there. The aggregator Pewsitter is positively spinning it’s head off on a topic it wouldn’t dare touch otherwise in a million millennia. My advice is to grab a beverage of choice, settle into your favorite piece of furniture, grab a tablet or smartphone and read it yourself.

Many of our spittle-flecked conservative friends bear the same mark of the culture: a disinterest in actually absorbing information first-hand. But it’s a good thing to read. If things get difficult, just pause. It’s no badge of dishonor; I have to do that with JP2 and not a few liturgy documents all the time. Don’t bother with First Things, Commonweal, or any of your gurus–even me. Certainly not me. In fact, as we go through daily posts of Laudato Si, I hope you will come having read the paragraph. Or at least read the green highlighted text before reading any of my commentary.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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