POPE and CIRCUMSTANCE
Today I'm sprinting into a place where angels fear to tread and (obviously) fools rush in. I am excited about The Da Vinci Code hitting the big screen next month. I loved the book because the short chapters and brisk pacing were perfect for someone like me who is blessed with the attention span of a gnat.
I have concerns about Forrest Gump playing the lead but I have to trust Opie's judgement on this one. What I really want to see are the historical re-enactments visually presented for my viewing pleasure. Cool! However all of the hub-bub about the Holy Roman Catholic Church Universal and it's plans to douse the party with holy water has my shorts in a knot.
Maybe it's just me but the Vaticanistas should just lighten up a little. The more controversy they raise about the film the more free publicity (no bad publicity in Hollywood & remember The Last Temptation?) they give them will automatically increase ticket sales. I'm not sure that the Vaticanistas have any idea of how little most homo escapeons (OK 5/6ths of the world) care about what they think about anything. Now I should preface this by stating for the record that my paternal grandparents represented the very best in human beings and they were old world Catholics. They were kind, generous and absolutely adorable.
As a small Protestant Anglo child living in a predominantly French Catholic town I can honestly say the Catholicism looked more palatable. Hey weekly absolution, few restrictions on the lifestyle side, ornate churches and costumes, C'Mon! My little clapboard Lutheran church on the bald Prairie stood forlorn and naked against the barren landscape. The pseudo Gothic Catholic Cathedral next door to my Grandparents house in town looked like Versaille or Notre Dame in comparison. It also seemed to me that the two congregations matched their churches.
The easy going Catholics revelled in their freedom to smoke and drink and let a few F sharps fly every now and then. Perhaps the biggest eye opener was the weekly card game with the Priest (who also lived next door) at my Catholic Grandparents house. He could smoke and drink and tell jokes just like a regular human being? He didn't have a wife so he could play cards whenever he wanted to. My shame bombing Lutheran Pastor may have had the Reformation on his side but all I understood was that, even though I was only 6 years old, I was a real SOB and pretty much guaranteed to burn in Hell for all of Eternity if I didn't live like a Puritan!! On the decor side the Catholics had their masterpiece renditions of Christ as a chubby little baby in his Mama's arms or suffering on the cross (always with the cross) and the Protestants had the pasty, white dude (probably British) carrying a lamb in his arms, who for some reason looked like a Hippy? Hey Man, it was the 60s!
One of my favorite memories of being the token Protestant at Ecole Fannystelle was that I was recused from Catechism studies in the morning and was allowed to quietly (secretly) read the comic books that I hid in my text books. Sweet! While the other kids cowered as Mother Superior (great title on a business card) swooped down the halls looking like Darth Vader with her pitch, black cape flowing behind her, I just smiled and said hello. She didn't have a light sabre, but her pointer was always in plain view, ready to correct the tiny, sensitive hands or threadbare butt of any misbehaving child with blinding speed and incredible precision. Except for moi of course. Whether it was in the Geneva Convention or not I do not know, but for whatever reason I had diplomatic immunity somehow. That and the fact that I was concerned that under the right circumstances my diplomatic immunity could be rescinded by the Vatican. Hey, what 6 year old isn't completely terrified of le frap dans le mains et sur le ass OUCH!
Maybe I instinctively kept my nose clean.
So much for my dissection of the Papist Worldview (Perpetual Virginity etc.)
I guess that now I realise how fascinating and easy Catholicism was from the outside ie. sugarcoated of course. As I slogged through the Lutheran confirmation years I daydreamed about the ease of my prereformationist friends; no digging and memorizing through chapter and verse from Genesii to Revelations, no theological dogmatics on fallen angels in the garden handing out apples. Nope. It was simply listen to your Mama (just like Jesus does) and Papa (the one in the Parish) on why you should vote Liberal in the next Election. But the best part was all of the Pope and Circumstance, you know, the costumes, statues, incense and candles WOW! Versaille/Notre Dame 8.5..Little Church On The Prairie 6.5.
PS. I will never, ever forget how all of the Nuns wept throughout the entire day back in '63 when John Kennedy was assassinated. I can still picture that day as if it were yesterday.