The emperor’s new clothes

This is a picture of Cardinal Raymond Burke (via).

I’m sure that Burke could explain why he is dressed this way. I am not sure that I would understand that explanation.

Yes, I’m a Protestant from a very low-church Baptist tradition. And, yes, I’m sure that explains a measure of my befuddlement over this photograph. But not all of it, because, well, just look at it.

I can only guess that this is a ceremonial costume. It surely does not seem to be anything one might wear for practical reasons.

I mean, lots of professions involve particular or even peculiar and odd-looking outfits. Welders, for instance, wear visors, protective aprons and thick gloves. Surgeons wear masks, latex gloves and scrubs. Those are like costumes, but they serve practical purposes for the tasks that such workers have to do.

What sort of task might require this? What work could one be faced with that would cause one to stop and say, “No. No, I couldn’t possibly do that unless I were wearing a red satin train at least 20 feet long and some kind of antimacassar as a frock”?

So this must be ceremonial, which is to say that this outfit must be meant to be symbolic and meaningful.

I remain just as baffled by it. If this get-up is meaningful, what then is it meant to mean? What does such pageantry symbolize, signify or teach? I think it teaches several things, but I doubt those things are what Burke intends.

I have the unsettling suspicion that Burke’s explanation for this costume would have  something to do with ecclesiology, and thus, fundamentally, with Jesus.

This, even more than the sheer spectacle of the thing, is what confounds me the most. What I’m looking at here is a photograph of a man who, at some basic level, has accepted this calculus: Jesus, therefore 30-feet of flowing red satin and lace.

I imagine there must be many steps involved in that “therefore.” I do not know what all those steps might be, but I am certain of this much: many of them were bad steps — steps in a wrong direction. Or, at best, steps in a very odd direction.

 Update: To clarify, the point here is not to say “Ha-ha-ha — look at that outfit,” but rather one step back from that, which is to wonder how such a thing can be worn without the expectation that it will and must, inevitably, cause others to goggle at it — to marvel at it with questions and reactions that have nothing to do with solemnity or reverence or with the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

I’m not confused by the idea of elaborately impractical ceremonial garb per se, or even by the idea that such garb may require additional explanation. A bishop friend once complained that awestruck witnesses of Pentecost settled on a metaphor of “tongues of fire” and that 2,000 years later that meant he had to wear a funny hat. I get that. The liturgical vestments Burke is pictured in on his Wikipedia page might go against the grain of my low-church iconoclasm, but such lovely symbols don’t bewilder me. The extravagant explosion of red satin and lace in that photo above does.

It seems to be the costume for a role in a story I do not know, yet it is being worn in the telling of a story I do know — and I cannot imagine how it belongs in that story. I suspect that including it in that story changes the story in a way that this story ought not to be changed. This is a costume for a story about money and power. That’s not the story he’s supposed to be telling.

 

  • Damanoid

    See, I look at that photo and come away with a totally different impression.  By Catholic standards, the ensemble is really quite severe.  Where’s the gold thread?  Where’s the jewel-encrusted paraphernalia?   This design is practically Minimalist. 

    Yes, he looks awkward, but that’s because he’s basically dressing up in red curtains and Grandma’s tablecloth.  They may well be expensive curtains, but we don’t even really know that for sure; you can find material just as sumptuous-looking at JoAnn’s Fabric.  Either way, judging by his expression, he’s not exactly thrilled with the outfit either. 

    Really, it’s just a slightly more formalized version of Christmas pageant nativity
    costuming, where bathrobes are understood to spiritually represent the
    garb of Eastern astrologers. All that’s missing is a crozier made out of a cardboard tube.  Arguably, it is also a good example of why you shouldn’t try to symbolically represent the lavish rewards of faith if your available budget can’t actually back it up.

    One thing’s for sure, though: Grandma’s gonna be pissed.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Of course I’m not saying fancy dress for important occasions is contrary to Christianity. I’m saying extravagant spending on that fancy dress is contrary to Christianity. Or at least to the teachings of Christ.

  • Tricksterson

    “If you think “Cardinal” doesn’t still equate to “robber baron”, I reccomend you read Render Unto Rome by Jason Berry.

  • Tricksterson

    Yes, but if that was his intent Fred could have done a better job of conveying that message.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Fair enough.

  • Hilary

    Word.  2 verses of Torah + 2 thousand years of commentary = some very weird stuff, sometimes.  Case point: tefillin, aka phylactories.  I wouldn’t laugh or point at someone using them with real meaning, but I still think they’re weird.

    But for this picture, all I could think of was “You wear that in church, and have the nerve to denigrate real drag queens on stage?” Maybe the church is just jelious of drag queens getting better tailoring? 

    Hilary

  • Carstonio

    Religious organizations shouldn’t have their clergy members in extravagant clothes or lifestyles because that’s money that doesn’t help feed or clothe the needy. It gives the impression that the parishioners’ donations primarily support a pampered ecclesiastical aristocracy. That’s what I perceive when I see outfits like this one, as if the cardinal imagines himself feared and respected by the rabble.

  • Carstonio

    Religious organizations shouldn’t have their clergy members in extravagant clothes or lifestyles because that’s money that doesn’t help feed or clothe the needy. It gives the impression that the parishioners’ donations primarily support a pampered ecclesiastical aristocracy. That’s what I perceive when I see outfits like this one, as if the cardinal imagines himself feared and respected by the rabble.

  • nomen nescio

    It’s also worth saying that good vestments and liturgical items in a Roman Catholic context will see *centuries* of use, just like a Sefer Torah and its case in a synagogue. Moreover, “modest” looking modern-style vestments need not be one whit cheaper than traditional-style vestments; to play devil’s advocate, even cheaper would be just dusting off the better quality pre-Vatican II stuff (as opposed to the kitch, which is legion), insofar as it didn’t get sold off/thrown out/burnt in the 60s and 70s.

    Also, those of us with Catholic peasant and working class family background, especially in relation to Southern or Central Europe, might recall that public liturgy (Mass, Vespers) and paraliturgy (processions, devotions), in addition to providing spiritual nourishment, also offered some of the only aesthetic/sensory nourishment/relief available in the midst of grinding poverty, especially before the time of mass communications and mass production. Hence, the extraordinary efforts of absolutely impoverished people to furnish their church as nobly and beautifully as possible. Of course, this is all an argument, perhaps, in favour of careful and conservative investment in vestments and liturgical paraphernalia, as opposed to, I don’t know, going on a spending spree at Slabbinck’s with every change of incumbent…

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    It gives the impression that the parishioners’ donations primarily support a pampered ecclesiastical aristocracy.

    Mal:  Don’t want to give people the wrong impression.

    Wash:  Or the right one.

    –Firefly, Bushwhacked

  • AnonymousSam

    I would say so, yes. If you have enough money to buy yourself expensive clothing, then you had enough money to be doing good and instead chose to purchase clothing to make yourself look more important.

    Didn’t Jesus say something to the effect of “Give away all you have to the poor, and then follow me”? I’m pretty sure that precludes ostentatious clothing, much less ostentatious clothing that costs tens of thousands of dollars for the purposes of communicating what a far more important man you are than everyone else.

  • EllieMurasaki

    It is worth clarifying that there is nothing wrong with paying extra to get quality. Is it Sam Vimes who put forth the Boots Problem, how a fifty-dollar pair of boots lasts rather longer than five consecutive ten-dollar pairs, but the fifty-dollar pair is out of many folks’ reach? And of course most cheap stuff nowadays is only cheap because the people who make it don’t get paid enough to live on; especially galling when, with no change of price and without making the company unprofitable (less profitable, certainly, but not unprofitable), all those people could be paid considerably more.

    But there is paying extra for quality and paying extra for not exploiting people, and then there is extravagance.

  • Hilary

    That’s a good point.  Our sefer Torah’s at my temple have some very fancy torah covers with complicated needlepoint decoration, and they do last a very long time.  And yes to the need for beauty and color even in the midst of poverty. 

    So some beauty in religious decoration is not a bad thing; what gets me is the hypocrasy of the CC blasting openly out, honest, non-pedophile famboyant gay men, yet wear this without any irony.  Flamboyant and weird religious stuff isn’t a problem  – it’s the Catholic Church thinking they have the right to insist everybody, Catholic or not, play by their rules in the public sandbox when their own moral standing is in the gutter.

    Hilary  

  • thatotherjean

     Somehow I doubt that a Prince of the Church, even in America, is going to be decked out in polyester satin from JoAnn’s.  Out of curiosity, I googled the price of satin for a while.  The cheapest real silk satin in that shade of red that I could come up with was $5o.00 a yard (36″x44″).  Those curtains might well be out of Grandma’s league.

  • mirele

    It’s not even $200+ to look that fancy. that getup probably costs between $10,000 and $20,000 dollars. 

    Remember, this man claims to represent a humble woodworker who died on a cross. I rather doubt in Jesus’ life the only time he saw something that awesomely gaudy was when he was hauled in front of Herod.

  • mirele

    Seeing Burke in this getup (I can’t dignify it with the moniker “robes”) reminds me that I pay more taxes so that his organization can purchase items like this with tax-free monies. 

  • mirele

    Seeing Burke in this getup (I can’t dignify it with the moniker “robes”) reminds me that I pay more taxes so that his organization can purchase items like this with tax-free monies. 

  • AnonymousSam

    Oh, absolutely. I think there’s an acceptable margin of price and quality ratio, with some things which are cheaper in quality and value and some which are more expensive and higher quality, but I have mental caps on both ends. There are things which are too low quality for human use (e.g., pink slime) regardless of how little you charge for them… and then something like this, well. Once you pass a certain margin on the high end, that item effectively becomes the domain of the rich, like luxury yachts and private jets.

    I have a hard time not seeing anyone selling the former to the poor as a bastard for exploiting people and anyone purchasing the latter as a bastard for not seeing a better use of their money.

  • Carstonio

    No disagreement about the need for beauty. That’s not the same as expensive extravagance, and one can have the former without the latter.

  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

    “I’m a sin forgiver,  I’m an apostic Papa coming For You!
     I’m a transubstantiator!, I’ll be a sacramental Bitch for You!
     Keep you mouth shut!  Stop squaking bout some damn lying Kids..
     While I’m dropping my dogma, on the world (If you dig)
     
    Bring your electric lust to me babe!
    Put your mortal stain to my head!
    Press your fallen grace to my love! 
    And Freak out in a Latin Daydream’ oh yeah!

    Don’t fake it baby!
    Lay the real thing on me!
    You know the church of boy love is,
    such a holy place to be!
    Deny it baby! Drop the lawyers money in the till!
    We can blame it all on the, homos still!  (You know we can baby)

    Bring your electric lust to me babe
    Put your mortal stain to my head! 
    Press your fallen grace to my love!
    And Freak out in a Latin Daydream, Oh Yeah!

    Oh, Freak Out!  far out, cash out!”  (face melting guitar outro) 

     
     

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

     I think if they were going for beauty with that particular outfit, they missed.

  • Hilary

    Like, epic fail.  Could be sent to Christian Piatt for a photo list of Religious costumes, epic fail. 

    Although to be fair religious costumes Epic Fail isn’t limited to tacky Catholic Velvet.  I will never fully recover from seeing my rabbi dressed as Barney for a Purim Spiel, but at least that was a deliberate attempt at humor.  Still an epic fail, only slightly relieved by the year 2 rabbis, 2 cantors did the Fab Four Beatles for Purim dress up.  An entire Jewish service scaned to the Beatles - Hey Jew/Hey Jude!

  • Hilary

    Agreed.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    in addition to providing spiritual nourishment, also offered some of
    the only aesthetic/sensory nourishment/relief available in the midst of
    grinding poverty, especially before the time of mass communications and
    mass production. Hence, the extraordinary efforts of absolutely
    impoverished people to furnish their church as nobly and beautifully as
    possible. Of course, this is all an argument, perhaps, in favour of
    careful and conservative investment in vestments and liturgical
    paraphernalia, as opposed to, I don’t

    I really like the way you put this. One thing that the Catholic church has which is sort of special about them is that when *they* give you the talk about how Church is Totally Rad and Way Cooler Than Those Secular Spectacles, they actually make a good-faith effort to *live up to the promise*.

    Sort of a medieval-religious adaptation of one of those big flashy Vegas shows (A thought which is going to keep me chuckling for a while)

  • P J Evans

     Only $10 a yard? I’d have bet that it was specially-dyed silk taffeta and more like $50. The ten-per-yard stuff is at your local fabric store.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Which only emphasizes the point.

  • P J Evans

     That explains the sisters in plain dress in the pews. They apparently get to play the poor peasants.

  • Ursula L

    Likewise, I don’t criticize the Mormon church for magic underwear, for the outfits they wear within their Temple services.  These are their rituals, and that is their business.  Someone’s religious rituals only become subject to mockery when they cause harm to others – see also polygamy (as practiced by the Mormon church in times past) and baptism for the dead.  Those are valid points of mockery and derision, because they are wrong.

    Given that the price of this outfit is being estimated in the tens of thousands of dollars, I’d say he’s hurting people, simply because there are so many good things that could be done with that amount of money.  

    Particularly since it’s likely that this is not his only outfit that’s this extravagant. 

    I can understand poor people working together to create a beautiful church for their shared use, or even to provide beautiful ceremonial outfits for use by their clergy.  (Probably in a way that the ceremonial outfits belong to the church, and remaining with the church even if the individual doing the job of ministering to the church changes.)  When it is their money, used to bring beauty into their lives, that’s good.

    But this is clergy paid by the donations of ordinary church-goers, at a salary that allows them to spend tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars on extravagant clothing for their own use.  

    It’s corruption.  In the same way that CEOs getting billion dollar bonuses while shutting down factories and laying off workers because the company “isn’t making enough” is corruption, or a small-church pastor skimming money from the collection plate is corruption.  Personal gain at the cost of the well-being of people you claim you’re both leading and serving.  

  • Carstonio

    Now I imagine priests and nuns staging a Cirque du Soleil production…

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I don’t get why everyone is treating it as “personal gain” for the cardinal. Those aren’t *his* clothes, that’s not *him* profiting from them. He doesn’t wear them about town on his day off. He doesn’t get to keep them when he retires. This bears little to no resemblance to a CEO taking home a billion dollar bonus. That ludicrous outfit is *ceremonial*. He wears it as part of his *job*. It’s his *uniform*. There’s no “personal” in this “personal” gain.  That “beautiful church for their shared use”? When he puts on those clothes *he is a part of that just as much as the big crucifix hanging on the wall*.   That’s the point of the dress-up: he’s making himself a part of that big beautiful *thing* that is the Church, just like the fancy marble baptismal font or the statues of the saints or the stained glass.

    I’m sure that he’s got an expensive armani suit he keeps in his closet for his days off, and you’re welcome to cite that as proof of corruption.

  • nomen nescio

    Putting aside the sacramental aspects, liturgy in Roman Catholicism (and Anglo-Catholicism), Eastern Orthodoxy, and Oriental Orthodoxy *is* interactive sacred theatre, albeit with the weight of at least fifteen centuries of Tradition (capital T!) behind it. But this would lead one down the rabbit hole (in the context of this discussion) of the what’s and why’s of liturgy in liturgical Christianity.

    But as people have been correctly pointing out, it’s one thing when a parish community furnishes its church with the various odds and ends needed for what it finds to be beautiful and meaningful liturgy, and it’s another thing for the faithful’s money to be blown on a Cardinal’s (non-liturgical!) ceremonial wardrobe, or a Patriarch’s Rolex collection, or even a Pastor’s luxury yacht, for that matter. 

    Well, to be obnoxiously fair to His Eminence, the cappa magna that launched a thousand comments was probably a loaner from the traditionalist group he was visiting, and in turn probably specifically donated by the traditionalist group’s (wealthy and fantastically, monarchistically, legitimistically right-wing) benefactors. But then, that said:
    (1) welcome to the strange, strange world that the French call “Tradiland;”
    (2) that doesn’t let Sua Eminenza off the hook for being quite the big spender back in St. Louis (and La Crosse?).

  • nomen nescio

    But now that I’ve read what I’ve just written, the wealthy monarchists who probably donated the cappa magna &c. to the traditionalist group in question most certainly *do* believe that all the princely trappings vestigially mentioned in the pre-Vatican II Ceremonial of Bishops make for beautiful and meaningful liturgy for their little pure, orthodox community. But then, that’s really a statement about *their* particular, all-encompassing mix of theological and political and social reactionism, in comparison to my poor peasant forebears who were happy enough to scrape up money for a nice Mass set and chalice for their own parish, but were none too happy about all the land they had to farm at the threat of hellfire for the local Franciscan (!) monastery…

  • nomen nescio

    But now that I’ve read what I’ve just written, the wealthy monarchists who probably donated the cappa magna &c. to the traditionalist group in question most certainly *do* believe that all the princely trappings vestigially mentioned in the pre-Vatican II Ceremonial of Bishops make for beautiful and meaningful liturgy for their little pure, orthodox community. But then, that’s really a statement about *their* particular, all-encompassing mix of theological and political and social reactionism, in comparison to my poor peasant forebears who were happy enough to scrape up money for a nice Mass set and chalice for their own parish, but were none too happy about all the land they had to farm at the threat of hellfire for the local Franciscan (!) monastery…

  • P J Evans

     Or the altar cloth that my maternal grandmother made for her (Methodist?) church (embroidered, if I remember my mother’s story correctly). Or the frame my father built (in the back yard) for the stained-glass cross behind the altar in the church we went to.

  • Ursula L

      I don’t get why everyone is treating it as “personal gain” for the cardinal. Those aren’t *his* clothes, that’s not *him* profiting from them. He doesn’t wear them about town on his day off. He doesn’t get to keep them when he retires. This bears little to no resemblance to a CEO taking home a billion dollar bonus. That ludicrous outfit is *ceremonial*. He wears it as part of his *job*. It’s his *uniform*. There’s no “personal” in this “personal” gain.  That “beautiful church for their shared use”? When he puts on those clothes *he is a part of that just as much as the big crucifix hanging on the wall*.   That’s the point of the dress-up: he’s making himself a part of that big beautiful *thing* that is the Church, just like the fancy marble baptismal font or the statues of the saints or the stained glass.

    He is making himself part of the big beautiful thing.   At the expense of the people in the pews. 

    That’s quite different from ordinary, even poor, churchgoers choosing to work hard to make their church beautiful.  

    It is different because different parties are making choices.  Poor churchgoers choosing to work together for their common good, versus one person deciding he should be dressed extravagantly at the expense of others to (supposedly) improve the quality of the worship experience.  The people who donated money to the church never got to vote whether or not this was the right way to spend the money they donated.  And by not taking that vote, the church leadership and anyone in that group using church money for clothes they will personally wear can’t truthfully claim that their extravagant outfit is how the people donating to the church plate wanted the money spent, when they’re also telling people to donate money because it will be used to pay the church’s electric bill and run a food bank.  

    It is different because the money is being spent on things to be used by just one person, rather than things for the common use of the people in the church, such as spending the same amount of money on robes for the entire church choir, their use passing from one choir member to the next as different people join and leave the choir.  

    As others have pointed out, the absurdly long cloak is not part of the ritual clothing for worship.  It is specifically a garment to indicate his personal status within the organization.  

    And it is a garment that is specifically and historically about the conspicuous consumption that someone who is socially, politically, economically, and, in his case, religiously, powerful can afford to indulge in. In the past, people of extraordinary wealth and power wore such garments.  Church leaders started wearing those outfits to show that their status was equal to or better than that of people who weren’t church leaders but chose to wear such things.  They started wearing such cloaks to show they were as rich and as powerful as anyone who could afford such a thing.  

    Uniforms that indicate high rank are not about the uniformity of an organization, they’re about establishing authority within the organization.  Countless privates wear identical uniforms, showing them to be equal and interchangeable.  A general’s uniform indicates rank and authority, power, privilege and status as a unique person of importance.  

    So even if this is his uniform for his job, it is still about explicitly asserting his personal status and power.  The people in the pews in that picture are nameless and interchangeable, but he isn’t.  He’s the person who gets to wear outfits that cost thousands of dollars, paid for by the money the people in the pews put in the offering plate.  No one else in that picture can expect the church to give them either garments that cost thousands of dollars or thousands of dollars to buy clothing so that they can be part of the beautiful thing, and enhance the experience of other churchgoers by having a pleasing appearance and wardrobe.  

    If the point is that the church is using the money in the offering plates to create a beautiful visual experience for the people attending the service, wouldn’t they be better served by dressing 60 people in outfits costing $500 each, rather than one person in an outfit costing $30,000?  If you put sixty people in the most lovely outfits one can get for $500, those are still extremely lovely outfits, and you could position these people so that no matter where one looked, one would see someone dressed so wonderfully.   Rather than having to focus your attention on one person to see what the money you put in the offering plate will buy you.  

    Concentrating that much money and attention on one person’s clothing isn’t about the welfare or pleasure of the ordinary people expected to pay for it.  

    It’s about knowing that you can get that much money from people who will watch you spend tens of thousands of dollars of money they donated to have a well-run church to benefit their community.   Instead spending it on one outfit for one person.  Knowing that a significant majority of those people won’t dare complain.  

    Yes, it is about the personal gain of the cardinal in question.  It’s about him gaining either the use of or the ownership of obscenely expensive clothing. It’s about him claiming that his wearing of obscenely expensive clothing is somehow for the benefit of others. It’s about him using these outfits as a way of demonstrating how powerful he is, compared to other people in that church at that time who can’t expect the church to pay for their clothing.  It’s about him using the wearing of such clothes as a sign that he has moral authority, that others should defer to him because he’s a cardinal, as they can see from his clothes. 

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Kim Kardashian wears a $10,000 piece of clothing, I roll my eyes and shrug.

    Kim Kardashian is not pretending to be a moral leader. Kim Kardashian is not trying to control my body on the most intimate and extreme levels. Kim Kardashian is not working for an organization run of, by, and for the rapists of the Vatican who want to send women back to the dark ages, and who are doing a damn good job of making sure AIDS keeps spreading at a phenomenal rate in Africa.

    Fuck the cardinal and the cape he rode in on. I’d say that stupid costume goes with flying monkeys, but the Wicked Witch of the West was never so evil.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Not at all cool.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Fred, your posts about Catholic tradition/symbols/practices etc remind me why criticism from within is so very different to criticism from without. You say you’re not trying to point and laugh, and apart from the odd disagreement I get the impression that you’re a good guy so I should give you the benefit of the doubt. And perhaps I still have the simmering shits about your US-centric proclamation my country is not free and does not operate under the rule of law, so I may be experiencing some annoyance seepage.
     
    All those caveats noted, this and the throne thing and a few other posts you’ve made leave me with a really nasty echo of “Dumb Micks and their peasant religion”. And every time you do one of these posts some wit jumps in with the always hilarious “priests are all kiddy fuckers HAHAHA”.

    So FWIW, your Catholic posts usually make me feel like shit. Thought it was worth pointing that out cos you seem to generally like to know about that sort of stuff.

  • http://thisculturalchristian.blogspot.com/ michael mcshea

    Love all the comments Fred.  I love to get feedback on my artwork so to speak.  Burke was in a series of posts I did, a flow, a string of thought built on my following through on the use of word “faux”. The “faux” started with Bill Donohue’s over at the Catholic League with his 501(c)3 political statement I thought masquerading as art in his “Obama in faux feces” artwork. Art imitates life I suppose. 

    But with Burke you have got  the head of a major faction within the ruling party of the Vatican, the Crows. As opposed with the Dove Party.  Well anyway, its Bertone vs Burke, two Crows, in the next election for the title of Pius XIII – What you see is what you get above with Burke BTW, sad to say. Same with Bertone and his recently staged faux trial of the pope’s butler.

    http://thisculturalchristian.blogspot.com/2012/06/cardinal-raymond-burke-pius-xiii.htmlAnd last, I am glad to see that some remember the magnanimous gesture of Paul VI in donating his Tiara to the poor.  Good gesture but the Tiara eventually got bought up by the Burkites as a trophy of power and resides as a tourist stop, feature in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Wash DC next to the attached Knights of Columbus Bell Tower, the Knights of course being the only present major competing tax free bank with the Vatican bank etc. within the RC church re money and power and affecting votes $$$ in the next papal election.  Life is politics I suppose.http://thisculturalchristian.blogspot.com/2012/07/papal-tiara-of-paul-vi-last-italian.html

  • nomen nescio

    “Good gesture but the Tiara eventually got bought up by the Burkites as a trophy of power and resides as a tourist stop, feature in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Wash DC next to the attached Knights of Columbus Bell Tower”

    I honestly don’t know whether to laugh or cry…

  • http://thisculturalchristian.blogspot.com/ michael mcshea

    By all means – Laugh darling. And party like it is the year 2 9 9 9 !  The best is yet to come. 

  • Carstonio

    I’ve never gotten a sense that Fred detests adherents of the Catholic religion, or that his criticisms were based in hatred of Irish people. I acknowledge that I may not be attuned to these. Can you cite examples of anti-Irish dog whistles that Fred is using?

    From the outside, the traditions and practices do look different, because of the hierarchy’s behavior suggests that it cares only about its own power, and is exploiting the traditions to maintain its position. In this sense it’s not much different from something like Penn State, except that the latter never claimed moral authority. In another thread I suggested something like Occupy Catholicism, where US Catholics overthrow the local hierarchy and set up a separate religion that keeps the doctrines and traditions. Yes, I know this would mean rejecting apostolic succession and papal infallibility.

    Still, I can understand your reaction to Fred’s posts on the subject. His particular faction of Christianity, US evangelism, has been one of Catholicism’s staunchest opponents, and often this seems to influence his otherwise well-founded criticisms of the Catholic hierarchy. The tone is far different from his condemnations of evangelicals who push authoritarianism and sexism – with the latter, he sounds as if he’s trying to rescue his particular religion.

  • Guest

    “There are ways to phrase your critique of the cardinal’s outfit that do
    not involve shaming young women for dressing in a manner that displeases
    you by its connection to female sexuality.”

    Since the original critique is based on shaming people for how they dress as a thin disguise for shaming them for not believing/behaving as the author would like them too…  That’s pretty hypocritical of you.

  • christopher_young

    MR. BLAKE was a regular out-and-out hardened sinner,
    Who was quite out of the pale of Christianity, so to speak,He was in the habit of smoking a long pipe and drinking a glass of grogon a Sunday after dinner,And seldom thought of going to church more than twice or–if GoodFriday or Christmas Day happened to come in it–three times a week.
    He was quite indifferent as to the particular kinds of dressesThat the clergyman wore at church where he used to go to pray,And whatever he did in the way of relieving a chap’s distresses,He always did in a nasty, sneaking, underhanded, hole-and-corner sort of way.
    I have known him indulge in profane, ungentlemanly emphatics,When the Protestant Church has been divided on the subject of theproper width of a chasuble’s hem;I have even known him to sneer at albs–and as for dalmatics,Words can’t convey an idea of the contempt he expressed for THEM.
    He didn’t believe in persons who, not being well off themselves, areobliged to confine their charitable exertions to collecting money fromwealthier people,And looked upon individuals of the former class as ecclesiasticalhawks;He used to say that he would no more think of interfering with hispriest’s robes than with his church or his steeple,And that he did not consider his soul imperilled because somebody overwhom he had no influence whatever, chose to dress himself up like anexaggerated GUY FAWKES.

    -W.S.Gilbert (without Sullivan)

  • Gelliebean

    “Since the original critique is based on shaming people for how they dress as a thin disguise for shaming them for not believing/behaving as the author would like them too…  That’s pretty hypocritical of you.”

    Somehow I’m not convinced you can equate (1) a ridiculous amount of extravagance on the part of a person whose life is supposedly dedicated to charity and service with (2) a personal expression of sexuality and body ownership for someone who has made no such dedication.

  • Carstonio

    As the father of daughters, I’m 100 percent against the shaming of female sexuality and also 100 percent against treating teenage girls as prey. Seeing Emma Watson on the cover of Glamour creeps me out. Not because of the former Hermione Granger herself but because the magazine seems to be catering to the assholes who lust after former child actresses, like they had been waiting for them to “blossom.” A fan at an NHL game once held up a banner reading “### Days Until Mary-Kate and Ashley Are Legal,” and I shudder to think of how this guy might have been watching Goblet of Fire or Order of the Phoenix. How would one communicate to one’s daughters that some men will wrongly view them as meat without teaching them that their own sexuality is the problem? They’re too young to remember how Britney Spears was more or less marketed as “jailbait” and how a huge percentage of her “fans” were older men who would only buy her albums if they came with nude photo spreads.

  • http://vicwelle.wordpress.com victoria

    (raises hand)
    Lifelong Catholic here (well, currently “lapsed,” but i still claim it as a cultural identity).  I think Fred’s critiques of Catholicism are spot on.  I would also argue that he is no longer as much of an outsider in his critiques at this point, given that he has married someone who is Catholic (he’s blogged about how his family is personally affected by clerical sex abuse in the RCC, to name one example).  I welcome more posts like this.

  • LL

    I’ll voice whatever I want. You are free to not like it. If Fred feels what I write is inappropriate, he’ll remove it. That’s his right. 

    I don’t care what you think. About anything. Again, you’re free to disagree. You’re not free to tell me how to express my thoughts. Whether you feel they are inappropriate is completely irrelevant to me. And again, I’d advise, just for your own peace of mind, to not become so invested in what other people say on a website comment thread that it distresses you terribly to read it. I’m a complete stranger. There’s no reason for you to care what I write or think, either. 

    And you might want to look up the word “joke.” You appear to be unfamiliar with the concept. 

    Self-appointed language police are annoying. 

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I happily will snort at the ridiculous attempts at overawing people that Roman Catholic priests and their superiors readily engage in. Besides, as Becca Stareyes has noted they were once the de facto and nearly de jure power in the absence of strong secular governments and they still hold a great deal of wealth and power today. I highly doubt mocking the powerful is going to suddenly cause a mass attack of the vapors.

    Personally? I was going to snark that Halloweeen has come yet, so dude’s a little early for that.

  • VMink

    Fascinating… I didn’t know there were political parties in the Vatican.  Least of all that they were called Crows and Doves.  I’ll have to research this more.

    Further, it’s fascinating that there’s already jockeying for the next Pontiff.


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