To be clear, Pope Benny, America didn't like you even before this nonsense. Come on, dude. Of all the names, you pick Benedict? Haven't you ever read any American history? And don't you think Pius would suit you better anyway?
I feel for the Catholics. I really do. As an American, I understand what it's like to have a leader who insists that his way is the only way to salvation. I know how it feels to be labeled as defective for disagreeing with a holier than thou attitude. (Woody Guthrie wrote a great song proposing a solution which would solve our joint leadership problems: "Christ for President.")
All joking aside, I'm truly appalled by Pope Benedict's statement, by his reassertion that the Catholic church is the only true Christian church. I can't fathom how the Catholic church (it has earned that lower case 'church') can claim to simultaneously promote world peace while insisting that other churches aren't really Christian. Pope Benedict's recent statement renews my frustrations with Catholicism; it is just a type of fundamentalism. The parallels to Bush rise again: "you're with us or you're against us." In the case of Benedict's Catholicism: "We're right. You're wrong. We all love you here on Earth in the name of our shared Saviour, but good luck in the next world. We're not going to bother saving you a harp." From my perspective, that seems rather closely allied not only with Bush's philosophy, but also with the principles of the Bad Guys that the United States has declared war against.
Part of me wishes that Pope Benedict had issued his declaration while I was on the Camino. There was remarkably little discussion of Catholicism there. I expected to encounter many more individuals whose devotion to Saint James inspired them to do the pilgrimage, but I cannot think of a single person who explained that religion was the primary reason for undertaking the walk. I can't even think of many pilgrims who identified themselves as practicing Catholics.
If I had heard about Pope Benedict's ideas while I was walking, I probably would have thought more deeply about Catholicism. I joke freely about walking to Jimbo's bones to get out of purgatory, but in many ways, that Compostela is not merely a quaint tradition. It represents the dangerous--and contemporary--notion that the hierarchy of the Catholic church can choose to regulate the afterlife. That is no laughing matter. It never has been. It isn't now. The attitude that one church worships a better God in a better way than another church? That's the kind of attitude that starts wars--and sustains them for a good, long time.
What I'm trying to say here, is that I just walked 500 miles in endorsement of Benedict's hateful words. Great.
James isn't very important to me, but Martin Luther is. Luther is no saint; that's for sure. He had his own supply of dangerous religious prejudices. (Don't we all? The irony of the statement is not lost on me.) Still, maybe instead of seeking a parchment pat on the head from the Catholics, I should have turned around and walked to Wittenberg, Germany to the site of the posting of the 95 Theses, which questioned the practice of granting indulgences. Apparently, Luther's revolutionary act is still quite relevant today.
I've been looking for a use for my Compostela. And I think I've found it. At first I thought I'd frame it so that I could remember my Camino, but it's ugly and in Latin. Then I thought I might auction it off on ebay to a less virtuous individual who really needs the purgatory points. Neither of those seemed quite right, though.
Instead, I'd like to use the blank space on the back of my Compostela to write an invitation to Pope Benedict. I'll invite him to walk the Camino de Santiago. I met quite a lot of people there who strove to emulate Christ. I'm not sure if they count as Christians, but I'd like to know his informed opinion about that after he plucks himself out of the Holy See for awhile and shares a few pilgrim menus with them. I have walked a lot of steps to gain access to his heaven. I've had a good, hard look at his faith. I wonder what would happen if he had a good, hard look at his faith, too.
Lace up your boots, Benny. You're going for a walk. You're going to sleep with the bedbugs and drain the pus from your blisters. Don't even try to tell me that you're too old. You're just a hatchling out on the Camino, just another graying German.
And by the time you finish walking from Rome to Santiago, I think you'll realize that if anyone should be denied access to heaven, Pope Benedict, it's not the Protestants. It's the snorers.
- free time
- seven corners
- carless, carfree
- chocolate con churros
- good snaps
- following the yellow arrows
- only a walker
- dear pictorial
- holier than thou attitude
- jiggety jig
- "let's take that little rat thing off the top."
- the compostela
- getting to Santiago
- would i do it again?
- clean sheets? so that's how it is in France . . ....
- "How did you like it?"
- the new world
- the meaning of the English word "sincere"
- mi ritmo--my rhythm
- yo camino
- the things i thought i already knew
- a walk in the park
- not just a mile away
- ▼ July (27)