16 April 2008

People who need Papal...

Everything was Pope Crazy today.

Benedict XVI was in town, meeting with our demented manchild of a president before cruising up to Catholic University in that sporty Pope-mobile. What on Earth could those two talk about behind closed doors, I wonder?

If only I were a fly on the wall for THAT meeting...it actually wouldn't matter, because flies (probably) don't understand human speech. They're funny that way.

But it was fascinating to observe the general reaction to all the papal fuss. Most folks seemed to be having fun with it, with jokes at Benedict's expense: Pope-mobiles, sexual scandals, is-he-a-nazi-or-isn't-he, dig those rockin' red shoes, etc... I wondered if the devout Catholics out there were taking it all with reverence and strength, outright embarrassment, or quiet indifference.

I was Catholic-by-association during childhood: Catholic school until 4th grade, mass on Sundays, the whole trip. And frankly, it's no religion for children. That shit scared the liver-flapping hell outta me.

No pun attempted.

As I saw it, God was an old white man with severe "competition" issues, his boy was a blue-eyed hippie fruitcake that was doomed from birth by scripture but had to slog through life anyway (the ultimate 'foregone conclusion'), and these "priest" people were like earthbound lawyers: here to translate and explain the ritual disciplines necessary to be saved, because the whole thing was so bloody complicated.

Oh, and the kicker: Thanks to Original Sin, NOBODY is truly worthy of "salvation" so the best you can hope for is to catch the old man in a good mood when you get to the Reception Desk. Thus, it's a swindle. The books have been cooked by a revolutionary sect that became a worldwide government.

The Holy Roman Empire (who, by the way, stole the concept of urban planning from the Etruscans and took credit for it; just sayin') was to become the most grisly slaughterhouse in human history. And its agents are still with us today.


I left the Catholic scene far behind in the smoking ruins of childhood. Thus, during all this Pope Stuff today, it was almost shocking to find that there was still a Catholic church operating in modern times... Therefore, there must still be real Catholics walking the earth.

Didn't all that just cease to exist when I stopped paying attention?

Now of course this is not a slam against modern Catholics, just some self-indulgent naval-gazing. Benedict's arrival has indeed been thought-provoking.

But I find it interesting that some of the most vibrant and happy agnostics, pagans, Wiccans, Druids, Asatru, Dianics, and Discordians I've ever met started out as Catholics. So maybe it wasn't just ME having nightmares of getting my astral ass kicked by that jealous bearded dude in the clouds.


A TV crew from Eurovision has been camped out at the front door of my office building for the past two days with cameras on Thomas Circle, preparing to film something Pope-ish (Popian? Popoid?). I assume the motorcade passed by today shortly after noon, en route to the Basilica, where Benedict was going to host a big bash for the folks of Catholic University.

If I wasn't up to my neck in magazine deadlines, I would've embedded myself in the madness with camera, notebook, and evil grin. But alas.

Next time, Pope. I'll catch ye next time.


Anonymous said...

Now, I'm no fan of Catholicism myself, but doesn't your venom go against the credo of your faith?

IntangibleArts said...

No venom intended. The Catholic Method seemed like bully tactics to me, and Mass had all the celebratory vibe of a funeral. Where was the vibrant thanks for being alive? Where was the joy?

As for faith, I've got it; but most bible-thumpers would see it as worshipping the 'creation' over the 'creator' which is, of course, splitting hairs bigtime.

It's all a personal thing, right? So in my view, if you cut out the middle-man, Christianity easily becomes earth-based paganism. As long as everybody behaves themselves and uses their turn-signals, we'll all find our own charming paradise.

epota said...

And as another family who, as youngsters, were raised by the heavy-handed Catholic playbook, and as free-thinking adults, moved on to embrace Buddhism, I have to say that your account is pretty much dead-on. It is not venom. It's fact -- with a twist of cynical humor mixed in for effective writing. Well said.

Reya Mellicker said...

What a beautiful post, and such a perfect explanation of the way Catholicism is/was often taught. Poor young Intangible - I bet it was scary as hell.

I have a lot of theories about biblical translations, lost texts, and all the awful things that happened to the wavelength of Christianity during the middle ages. It ain't right.

And I can't help thinking about how hard it must be to try practicing Catholicism at this moment in time.

I love that scary jesus in the Basilica at Catholic Univ. Jesus wearing a Shiva attitude, isn't it?

Also LOVE "demented manchild" as a descriptor of Bushie. Wow. Spot on!

IntangibleArts said...

Epota: There, I knew I forgot to add somebody to that list...the Buddhists!

Reya: Thanks, and absolutely, re: the Shiva vibe in that mosaic. I spent a few Sundays as a kid, freaking out on that face (who knew Christ was the spitting image of a young Donald Sutherland?)

Also about the spin-cycle the various translations have gone through. Far as I can tell, Rome has not accepted the Gospel of Thomas (why would they? It's the most Buddhist-sounding stuff they have), and I understand there's a whole story behind Ruth that didn't make it past the cutting-room floor.

eh. But I do credit St. Jude's church in Rockville for introducing me to COBALT BLUE. If memory serves, the carpet & much of the stained glass was that color. Gorgeous stuff, you can just sink right in.

Mr T in DC said...

Another lapsed Catholic here, too! The two scariest church-related things I remember about childhood were (1) the unnecessarily graphic crucifix hanging in the church and (2) "...if I should die before I wake.." bedtime prayer.