What else did that day see?

Given Adolfo Nicolás’ almost five decades of ministry in Japan — and their effect on his outlook — the day since his election has seen the 30th “Black Pope” being repeatedly compared to the 28th.

Yes.  That would be the newly elected “general” of the Jesuits.  Like the 28th, Pedro Arrupe, he spent much time in Japan.  Much more is noted by blogger Rocco Palmo, a much published Philadelphian who writes from America for The Tablet, the international Catholic weekly published in London.

Fine.  But I expect there’s another likeness, that as a Jesuit novice blogged a year or so ago, in his first half year as a Jesuit, a Jesuit general “literally has his finger on the pulse of the planet.”

He doesn’t, of course, and I entered into dialog with the young man in order to remind him gently that he may literally has his finger on the pulse of a novice but not of the planet.  Alas, by the time he cut me off from comment on his blog, he had made it brutally clear that he had no idea of the meaning of “literal,” nor any sense of its being the opposite of “figurative.”

He’d come to the Society fresh off a respectable state university campus and had apparently met usual Jesuit requirements as to gray matter and literacy but nonetheless thought the Jesuit general took global pulses.

  This I found more disheartening than if he’d denied the Trinity, which he may yet do, who knows?


He will help us find ourselves?

New head man for Jesuits has non-Western tilt?

It’s been 46 years since Father Adolfo Nicolás first traveled to Japan as a missionary from Spain. His has been a long conversation, first in Japan, but also in Korea and more recently in the Philippines. It’s left him convinced that the West does not have a monopoly on meaning and spirituality, and can learn a lot from the experience of Asian cultures.

He’s Spanish-born Adolfo Nicolas,

ordained in Tokyo in 1967 and spent most of his career in the Far East – directing a pastoral institute in Manila, in the Philippines, and holding leadership positions in Japan.

Let us not rush to judgment, but let us confess our bias toward Western values and suspicion of those who lean East.

Martha, Martha . . .

This book-writing lady did a bad thing, per U. of N. Carolina-Greensboro prof David A. Cook, in a letter to Times [of London] Literary Supplement 1/4/08:

In 1972, I was preparing to write an essay on [John Cowper] Powys’s Owen Glendower (1940), a two-volume, massively researched novel of the Welsh prince’s revolt against Henry IV, and I learned that a historical novel on the same subject had been published that year [1972] by G. P. Putnams.

This was Martha Rofheart’s Fortune Made His Sword (published in 1973 in the UK as Cry God for Harry). I quickly got my hands on a copy to see if Powys and Rofheart had used the same sources, but what I discovered was page after page of verbatim plagiarism. This was no accident: I counted more than a hundred such instances, extending over about 150 pages in the middle of the novel.

Martha gets a respectful hearing elsewhere however, especially at Randolph-Macon College, where an Honors 141 student observed that her 1976 novel The Alexandrian was “fun to read,” being “told from Cleopatra’s voice” and thus “interesting.”  This novel also “allowed the readers to feel like they were Cleopatra.”

That’s nothing.  Writing Fortune Made His Sword made her feel like John Cowper Powys.  It must have been a wonderful experience.