Recently we witnessed the election of a new pope. Since his election, I was surprised that, contrary to many of his predecessors, he rejected the opulence of his office, and tried to inspire by example. In the Vatican dripping with gold and priceless works of art, that is a rare trait indeed.
I want my readers to know that my comments about the Church are limited only to the Church’s claim to expertise in matters pertaining to the teaching of Christ.
The last 2000 years made it abundantly clear that the Church has absolutely no interest in any treasures stored in heaven. On the other hand, the brazen agglomeration of priceless wealth which I suspect exceeds even that of the British Empire which R. Buckminster Fuller once called: “...history’s most successful world-outlaw organization...” is obvious.
On the other hand, I have nothing but admiration and undying gratitude to the Church, present and past, in many other areas that are also dear to me. The Church is responsible for my countless moments of joy, of visual, aural and tactile pleasure that contribute greatly to the fabric of my daily life.
I held my breath as I entered the Basilica of Saint Peter. What magnificent space, what resplendent vistas! I dare anyone, of any faith or religion, not to derive pleasure, not to admire the euphoric splendor (spiritual decadence only if you are a spoilsport) of the central building of the Church. The sensuously polished marbles, the forests of columns—forthright and upright, soaring towards heavenly domes. Or from the armies of sculptured saints, the galleries of paintings of more saintly figures, all immortalized right here, on earth, for posterity. The greatest names of the 16th century, Bramante, Michelangelo and Raphael have been mustered to contribute their genius to this monument of human endeavor. And all this thanks to but one man, Pope Julius II. Admittedly there are those who call his reign “the decadence of papacy,” but there is another way of looking at this period. Without Julius, St. Peter’s would never have happened.
And then there is the Sistine Chapel ceiling, the papal apartments, the papal portrait galleries, the inexhaustible works of art in the Vatican Museum, the consummate splendor of other Vatican buildings, the gardens... and, last but not least, the superb archives of the Vatican library...
Who else could provide us with such unprecedented riches?
And this is just the headquarters.
And then there is music.
I defy anyone to point to any other source as abundant as the Church in commanding composers to produce their best for the good of all. From the aria antiqua, through the doleful canticles to the Ambrosian and Gregorian chants echoing among the stone walls of ancient monasteries, to Handel’s Messiah and other Oratorios. And who could claim that Bach wasn’t first and foremost a church’s composer?
And there is more—much more...
Is there another way? Perhaps. Read my Headless World—The Vatican Incident and tell me what you think.
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Headless World—The Vatican Incident
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