Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Vatican Revealed

I haven't read The DaVinci Code. The premise for the book seems a bit convoluted and the hype all but assures me I'll be disappointed in the story. I'm not particularly interested in seeing the Movie. Frankly I just don't like Tom Hanks very much. Somewhere along the line he went from being a funny down-to-earth guy to being an elitist prick. He's dull and annoying.

This is odd because I typically enjoy anything that takes a shot at religion and the stir created over this book/movie enterprise makes The DaVinci Code interesting to me. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, but I still don't want to see or read it.

Atheism makes people uncomfortable. Even your casual practicioners of religion bristle at the notion that there are people around who laugh at the notion that there is some divine being floating amongst the clouds keeping a detailed record of who gets into heaven and who burns in hell. God could save some time and just buy Santa's list. It's not the people I dislike, but the institution of religion.

The Vatican made The DaVinci Code a huge hit. Had it not been for all the priests, bishops, cardinals and of course the Pope pitching a fit over the book and the way it represents Catholicism, Brown's tome would have flitted around the bookshelves for a few months before fading into oblivion. Nothing sells like controversy and the cloistered clowns with the Catholic church were all to happy to oblige. Cha-ching.

By the time the movie was released the Vatican realized what a hit it had made out of a mediocre book so they ignored the movie, refusing to provide any hype that might help Tom Hanks snag some award ceremony hardware. They dismissed the movie as mildly interesting at first before it slipped into a dull pseudo-thriller. Had they taken the same approach with the book there probably wouldn't be a movie unless some network executive bought the option for a summer programming filler. Anything would be better than 10.5.

The Vatican proved that it is essentially the headquarters of a very large corporation. The success of the business entity is based largely on public relations and the Catholic church has always been quick to take action based on public appeal. Recently the Vatican demonstrated more of this opportunism when church officials revealed the pontifical position of the church on current social issues.

Riding that wave of fundamentalism that has become so popular, the Vatican nominated a hardline pope with Nazi ties and has firmly staked out a position against gay marriage and birth control. This includes condoms. The church is not OK with rubbers. How's that for a giant step backward? I suppose the next step will be buying the naming rights to the NASCAR championship series when Nextel's contract is up. Catholic Cup.

The Catholic church has been promoting an abstinence only policy for nearly 2000 years. It doesn't work. Devout Catholics can't keep it in their pants. That includes priests, bishops and cardinals. Maybe young boys are part of that abstinence program, but not all clergy members are pedophiles. In this day and age, how can the Catholic church take a stand against birth control? Especially condoms.

Millions of children are born into poverty and disease. AIDS is still rampant in third world countries and other diseases are developing that resist treatment. In Latin America exploding birth rates are overwhelming the education systems and entire countries are being crushed by illiteracy, increasing poverty and a culture of drug cartels that are happily exploiting the situation. Sadly, it is in these countries where the Vatican has tremendous influence that condoms make the most sense. People in these countries have three things to look forward to: sex, drugs and church. Sadly, they take what they want from all three. The Church doesn't stop them from having sex, because they confess the sins and ask for absolution, but the hardline stance against condoms keeps disease spreading and babies coming. Forgive me father for I have sinned...but I didn't wear a rubber!

Jesus Christ was the sort of guy who would have wanted to address the welfare of his fellow man, not petty social issues. It seems that the Vatican would better serve humanity and this God they are so kooky about by implementing strategies that work instead of clinging to the myth of abstinence or railing against a couple of homos getting hitched. Somehow I think Jesus would have been a lot more interested in finding a cure for AIDS, feeding the hungry and putting an end to war than rubbers and lesbian weddings.

But the Vatican isn't in the business of making the world a better place. It's all about putting butts in the seats. They need money and that money comes from the customers. Sure they call them parishioners, but money changes hands. It's a business transaction. That body of Christ isn't free. About 20 years ago the Catholic Church softened its position on issues like birth control. While the Vatican didn't condone it, they did make it clear that using birth control was not a sin. Now, with fire and brimstone becoming popular once again, the Vatican has tinkered with its image to make the church more appealing. People don't want an understanding god these days. They wants wrath and vengeance. The Vatican has seen the paradigm shift and they are moving fast.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Religion leads into other areas like immigration. Since America is becoming more secular, the religious institutions are more than happy to embrace the immigrants. The ultimate irony is that the "non-instituational" evagnelical religions are the ones railing so hard against immigration because it takes a special breed of bigotry (seem to flourish the most in the US and Middle East).