Sunday, January 31, 2016

Why Do We Have to Dress Up Like Mommy in Order to Act Like Daddy? Strange Irony of the Catholic Emangelization Project (with Thanks for All Your Comments)

This has been a lively several days of discussion at Bilgrimage (133 comments and counting now, on my previous posting about Cardinal Burke and his emangelization initiative!), and I confess I'm having a bit of trouble catching up with comments. I cherish all of your remarks. I may not have time to acknowledge each of them individually, however. 

I'm working right now on two collaborative book projects simultaneously, and spent Friday doing some intensive writing for one of the two, as Steve and I drove to northwest Arkansas and back again, to take part in a discussion about yet another collaborative book venture that looks as if it will work out (Steve has his own involvement, through his job, in this project) — so that I'll be involved in that project, too, as it develops. Hence my lack of time in the last several days to do much blogging or commenting here, though I am definitely reading the thread of comments and find so much to think about, smile about, and so many valuable links on which to click and learn new things. 

Who on earth knew that some Christian liturgical traditions including the Roman Catholic one had borrowed those ostrich-feather fans from ancient Egypt, which you see Cleopatra's scantily clad slave boys wafting over her in lavish Hollywood productions from the golden age of cinema? I look at photos of flabella online, now that Chris Morley has alerted us to this liturgical accoutrement, and I'm immediately back in New Orleans for Carnival, bands blasting out marching music, people in various stages of undress boogying to the music, trinkets flashing through the air, rivulets of wine and rum flowing in the street . . .

Except that the floats in the photos online, backed by the same huge ostrich-feather fans you'd see with the Krewe of Poseidon or Cleopatra, have popes and cardinals riding on them.

The Catholic emangelization project is fraught with more than a little irony, no? As I've noted several times here, a priest-friend, theologian-colleague of mine has repeatedly asked me, quoting a priest-friend of his, "Why do we have to dress up like Mommy in order to act like Daddy?" (And now wild hair points us to G.K. Chesterton as the provenance of that question, and I once again learn something entirely new from the discussion thread here, casting new light on a question I've been hearing for years now from my priest-friend.)

"Why do we have to dress up like Mommy in order to act like Daddy?": unravel that mystery, and you might find yourself a long way down the road to understanding how an institution that, in its leadership structures, is so saturated with homoeroticism and so fabulously decked out in finery for which a drag queen would die, can simultaneously be so viciously homophobic — with open, self-respecting gay men the primary object of its special venom. 

The graphic: an 1828 painting by Horace Vernet of Pius VIII* being carried on the Sedia Gestatoria with flabella flanking the throne. A photo of the painting, which is in the public domain, has been uploaded to Wikimedia Commons for sharing online.

Thanks to MarkWilliam for correcting my mistake in the original posting. I had written Pius IX when I meant Pius VIII.

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