Evangelii Gaudium: The Smorgasbord Theory
The Germans have a beautiful saying; they call it Die LKW-Theorie.
The theory in question says that if you want to avoid close scrutiny for your project, you can submit to the deciders an entire truckload of documents at the last minute, pointing out that the decision is now expected very fast or else the client will walk away. The deciders have therefore the double whammy of time and sheer quantity of material put in front of them, with all the bad news conveniently buried in the middle of the paper avalanche. Only the strongest will resist the trick, but many are those who will cave in, faced with the pressure of angry salesmen threatening to lay at their feet with the powers that be the charge of every misconduct from, and including, Adam. Every time this happens, men are divided from boys; then you discover that just a few men, and a great many boys, walk around in your typical office on any given day.
The theory is there because the time has honoured its application, making of it a staple of German – and, I am sure, not only German – office life. In short, it works.
I had to smile and think of the “LKW-Theory” when I realised the sheer mass of the papal exhortation, exceeding the 50,000 words including the notes. This is more than four times the 12,000 words interview to Civilta’ Cattolica. It would appear that after the scandal caused by the 12,000 words interview a new strategy is employed, based on the drowning of the prospective reader under such a tidal wave of information that he will not be encouraged to read anyway. And who would, on reflection, want to be “encouraged” for hours on end? It would make despondency look appealing.
This is, I think, part of the motivation for an effort reaching Soviet Politburo proportions. Most people will just not touch the document, or shall I say the small book. I can’t imagine this effect was not intended.
Still, from what I could read up to now another theory might be applied. Yours truly would like to name it, following the German habit, the Smorgasbord Theory.
According to this theory, you need to offer a buffet in which absolutely everything and the contrary of everything is present, so that everyone will be able to pick and choose the food he likes most and everyone will be happy in the end. The smoked herring lover will find Francis’ take on the herring absolutely fascinating, whilst the the chocolate mousse fan will declare that Francis is a dessert champion and the apple pie lover will praise the perfect balance of the ingredients, with the pastry just after his liking.
In this never ending exhortation – evidently written in its groundwork by a pen far smarter and more lucid than Francis, as you can see comparing the writing style with Francis’ inordinate and shallow ramblings – there is pretty much everything most V II Catholic hearts – not mine, not mine! – can desire. Vatican II rhetoric is pretty much everywhere, and once again one has the impression these people think that before 1961 we were in the Stone Age. There are the strongest words against abortion ever heard from the non-obsessing, non narrow-minded Francis, drowned somewhere in the mare magnum of the work. Apparently, Pius XI is mentioned in a note (wow! What a blessing! The Holy Ghost truly is making overtime! Give me the tambourine!). The rhetoric of “joy” is everywhere, which should work well with the tipsy readers. Francis the writer contradicts (not corrects) Francis the interviewee with beautiful regularity (say: on “proselytism”), showing that the skilled anonymous ghost writer knows a bit more of Catholicism than Francis; but still remaining within solid V II, peace ‘n joy, inclusive ecumenical stuff. At least one blunder (actually: heresy) is huge: the idea that the covenant with the Jews is still valid and when God tore the veil in the Temple he was merely suggesting to the Jews that it might be wise to build a new version, with electric motors and extensive use of carbon fiber. This, I suspect, is another V II fad that evidently had to be part of the Smorgasbord to please… Francis’ buddy, the pro-homo Rabbi.
For the rest, one would have to dig deep in the paper mountain. Let me tell you that I refuse to do it and reject the idea Francis can use the LKW-theory with me, or take me by sheer exhaustion. The best and worst parts will come out in the press anyway, and I will comment on them as and when I see fit. But I refuse – as I already did with the 12,000 words interview – the logic of “how can you criticise Marxism if you have not read “Das Kapital” “. I do not doubt in the word mountain there will be tons of V II waffle, some well worded phrases, and some horrible statements.
Still, one thing can be said already. For one who doesn’t even want to read the homilies prepared for him, Francis asks us an awful lot of reading.