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Along the Watchtower: Meditating on Bob Dylan and Pope Francis

Seconds after the "white-smoke alert" was sent, people who couldn't or didn't want to rush to the Vatican poured instead into the "Twitter Square." As posts flooded the site, I couldn't help thinking of these words from Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower":

There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke. But you and I, we've been through that, and this is not our fate.

It was Fr. Robert Barron, the rector of the largest seminary in the United States and director of the New Evangeliziation, who got me listening to Dylan. The lyrics above describe perfectly the cacophony of sentiments expressed as the world waited to meet the new pope.

Many of us here feel life is but a joke.

There were the usual, tired Catholic-bashing Tweets. There were also honest, tragically justified condemnations of heinous human acts hidden under the cloak of religion badly lived. Women, angry the pope was not female, joined others who, like Piers Morgan, parasitically used the news to wave their arms for attention.

Genuinely sad, annoying, often understandable. And yet... they were there waiting too; instinctively grasping that beyond their cynicism, the Catholic pope is more than a punchline; somehow above the crime of being male, not truly synonymous with sex scandals.

But you and me, we've been through all that and this is not our fate.