Dalai Lama in the Senate; pope in Rolling Stone

“An Italian publisher known for celebrity gossip promises respectful weekly coverage — plus a poster — of Pope Francis in Il Mio Papa (My Pope),” reads the lead in a New York Times article this week titled “New Magazine for fans of the Vatican's biggest star.”

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No longer the sublime figure anointed to the tradition of Peter; no longer the ineffable guide through the labyrinth to the Father in Heaven. You might have to find that elsewhere if you are so inclined in an age of compulsive and devastating extroversion. He is one of us now, on the cover of Rolling Stone, hipster incarnate, down with the people. The age rising was said to be an age of Titans. Picture Bismark, Victoria and Jefferson, or Tolstoy, William Blake, Luther or Elizabeth. But it is not. No kings, no popes, no country, no religion too. Just Daryl and Merle and us and the pope.

And the Pope is not just for Roman Catholics anymore, he, like Charlie Sheen, the Spice Girls and that guy on the Old Spice deodorant commercial, is for everyone now. And as everyone in the world is American to some slight degree, we must all be Catholic now just a little.

The Vatican complained when Pope Francis made the cover of Rolling Stone, the epiphany moment for a rock star. But it is what they looked for, a popular pope.

Now there is competition from the East. It is a remarkable and historic moment in the annals of the West when the leader of Tibetan Buddhism gives the prayer in the Senate, as he does so today.

The Holy Father is well behind in pop competition with His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama. Number 14 is said to start a new cycle and apparently, driven from his homeland by communist China, a cycle very likely to rise here in America. The Dalai Lama has long had friends in the Senate, Jesse Helms of North Carolina, Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island and New York’s Daniel Moynihan, in particular. And he has clearly been the favorite of Hollywood.

But his popularity goes back among the Beautiful People to the Surrealist cycle. Antonin Artaud offered a prayer to the 13th Dalai Lama in La Révolution Surréaliste in 1925.

In 1971, Salvador Dali, a devout Catholic, made a prediction for the rising age. Tibetans will recognize the famous wind horse which marks the age awakening, and Christians will note the chest wound of the Christ, from which descends a Buddhist monk into a desert, very possibly one in America. Quite conspicuously he titled his painting, “The Second Coming of Christ.”

It's kind of kooky. But make no mistake, unlike the fatally extroverted and heavily marketed Christian churches today, including Francis’s, it does indeed offer the suggestion of a path inward, as the old Christian churches once did, for those on the edge and striving to find a path to the center who want to believe.

Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. For 20 years he has been an amateur farmer, raising Tunis sheep and organic vegetables. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at quigley1985@gmail.com.