I thought I would close out our week of looking at Pope Benedict's contributions to the Church by recalling one of his very early contributions, his 1968 book Introduction to Christianity.
In the very first chapter, Raztinger recalls Kiekegaard's story of the circus tent that catches fire. A clown, already madeup in his costume, runs to the nearby village to warn them that the fire will spread and engulf their homes, but because of his outfit, they only laugh at him and, the more he pleads, the more they laugh. At the time Raztinger was writing, Harvey Cox had invoked this image in his then-recently published book, The Secular City. Both Kierkegaard and Cox were trying to show the situation of theology in the modern world. Here is what Ratzinger does with the story:
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I would submit that this searching, brutally honest and self-critical awareness of the young Ratzinger is largely responsible for his success preaching in the public square. Unlike some bishops, the Bishop of Rome does not see himself set apart from the villagers, but knows their doubts and, just so, can speak in an idiom they can appreciate.