From the Archives
(April 2005) Tonight I am brain-dead and am once again lying on the sofa watching television. Am just about sick of hearing about the death of a homophobic, sexist, anti-choice pope whom even NPR is praising as practically a god too.
Nevertheless, it’s cool that the National Geographic channel aired “Inside the Vatican” a little while ago.
There’s no doubt about it, it’s a beautiful structure. The baroque statues are exquisite. And, if you forget for a moment about them being paid for with money coerced out of poor people who were told they had to buy their way into Heaven, then you might even be able to appreciate the opulence without choking on the irony of it all.
Gotta say though, my Southern Baptist church was sure bland in comparison—but then that was part of the point of the schism, wasn’t it?
I wonder how differently I would experience faith—or at least the mystery of faith—if I had grown up attending services in a Catholic sanctuary with soaring lines and flying buttresses and incense and mystique and priests in velvet robes, if the services were in Latin, were mysterious instead of frightening.
Was it Tycho who proposed constructing buildings in the shape of their purpose, which led architects to build churches in the shape of a cross? Yeah, I think so, but it’s been a while since I took all those architectural design courses.
Anyway, footage of the bishops’ ordination was a sight to behold. Those white men were actually wearing crowns—the pope’s was gold—and even the guards wore amazingly intricate outfits.
Pomp and circumstance and Mercedes-Benzes were everywhere.
The processional and music were also high fancy and the bishop candidates actually prostrated themselves on the (marble) floor.
Does the US even have any rituals like these?
I gotta say though, jeez, I don’t know how recently they shot this show, but the pope already looked dead. They rolled him out on a cart and removed his crown for him and then the poor man just slumped over on his little holy go-cart for the entire service and, as near as I could tell, the only time he even moved otherwise was when the bishops knelt before him and he placed his hands on their heads to bless them.
What a sad way to exist, particularly when you’re on display.
Meanwhile, Kansan citizens vote tomorrow on whether or not to amend their state constitution to discriminate against same-sex couples. The state’s so-called marriage protection amendment is one of the most far-reaching amendments, one that would deny all unmarried couples any of the benefits and protections of marriage.