Reading a history of the Vatican
[Ed. Note: I'm starting to post all the columns that I didn't put on line after Mary died. Forgive the hiatus, but it's taken a while to get my life back into some semblance of order ]
MEA MAXIMA CULPA … Interesting to the see the Holy Mother Church of my childhood disintegrate into scandal, repression and recriminations. The ex-seminary listserve that I belong to from a California long gone (circa 1963) featured a Maryknoll priest last week (their seminarians walked down the hill to study with us diocesans at St. Joe’s, Mountain View, before the ’89 Loma Prieta earthquake rocked the campus apart at the seams) by the name of Roy Bourgeois – a well known peace activist of the Berrigan brothers’ wing of radical Catholicism. Father Roy has been excommunicated by the Vatican and kicked out of his order for advocated for women priests … And this week there’s a damning review of Alex Gibney’s cinematically documented exposé of the scandalous pedophilia tolerated by the Church’s all-male hierarchy, Mea Maxima Culpa … Often that phrase is translated as “through my most grievous fault” and was an incantation, the Confiteor (“Confession”) that altar boys had to make during one section of the old Latin mass, where -- on one’s knees before the stairs to the altar – an acolyte had to bow over, just short of prostration, beside the priest, and repeat, two of us in unison, “Through my fault, my fault, my most grievous fault.” Quite dramatic … The film has no less drama, and a lot of induced revulsion over what the Church has allowed and sometimes even tolerated (in exchange for money). And while shocking, and quite disturbing to modern sensibilities (let alone ethics), it fits a pattern … I just finished studying (one’s education should never end) British Canonical scholar J.N.D. Kelly’s The Oxford Dictionary of Popes (Oxford Univ. Press, 1986). It’s a fascinating read, from saints like St. Victor the First (189-198) who excommunicated churches in Asia Minor for celebrating Easter on a day different than the Romans did and Christians and Gnostics for suggesting Jesus was a good man but not god and St. Damasus the First (366-384) who hired gangs of thugs for rampages against supporters of a rival for the papal robes that left hundreds dead on Rome’s streets, to warrior popes who rewarded their sons and nephews with cardinal hats, maintained lavish palaces with mistresses and/or young boys and employed flagrant bribery, like Julius the Second (1503-1513) and Paul the Third (1534-1549). It’s a tainted history that makes mincemeat of any foundation for papal infallibility … So, while sad, the current state of spiritual disarray at the Vatican, is, quite frankly, nothing new.
SETH … Denver’s Open Ranger maestro of music & spoken word has published his collected, A Black Odyssey (Mercury HeartLink, Albuquerque, 2012). As friend and Western Slope Poet Laureate, he asked me to do a backcover blurb -- de rigueur in the world of published poetry (a small niche world composed of paper, dreams and metaphor) … “Every day it’s that blank page / a smooth flat placid white man / of a face” … ός μάλα πολλά … Here’s what I wrote for him … “SETH has always been an experimenter willing to push the cultural boundaries, happy to take the Apollonian crowd on tour of society’s Dionysian underground. His improv poetry jams at Denver Merc are legendary. Poetry plays. Performance art. Expect to be surprised.”
NORWOOD … I love living in a town so small that the teller at the bank knows where my lost wallet is because her daughter clerk at the market told her about it, and a checker at the same market alerts me to my photo in the current issue of High Times that I hadn’t seen yet.
WEEKLY QUOTA … “Every now and then an astronomer needs to leave the office behind, travel somewhere remote, away from an urban hullaballoo, preferably somewhere with high elevation – and confront the night sky in all its naked beauty.” – Anna Frebel, assistant professor of physics at the MIT, “Four Starry Nights.” Scientific American (December, 25012)
WHITE DRAGON SOCIETY … I don’t know if it exists, but one almost wishes it did. National socialism or Reagan/Bush capitalism -- where the Fed and industry run government -- seems an unwise version of democracy. I think of myself as a Green farmer/democrat, or maybe a Jeffersonian citizen politician (though I have to ask myself, how could a lover of freedom own slaves, or run a carpenter nail business on the whipped backs of young black boys to finance his colonial Monticello lifestyle?) … Rather than count on any White Dragon deus ex machine saving us from our world leading military industrial complex, I’m shooting in my small sphere locally to nudge the middle over to the left, ever so gently … Radical change, done quickly, rarely sticks, and only invites a disastrous pendulum swing. Luckily this last election it swung left, and gives us a chance to work beyond spinning conspiracy theories.
THE TALKING GOURD
Amid a Storm of Clear Skies
|Wilson Peaks (photo by Carl Marcus)|
mf danced off
in my arms
as i ommed
to an almost full moon
above a raging sea of mountains