Wednesday, April 20, 2005

It's about religion?

No matter how I manage to neglect my blog, did you really think that the election of a new Pope could pass without me making some sort of comment? The election of a new Pope who seems to be (if possible) even more fundamentalist and narrow-minded than the last Pope? A Pope who has publicly denounced homoesexuality as a debauched sin? And said that the Church had better work a bit harder to minimise the participation of nasty, sinful, distracting females in Mass? A Pope who chastised some of the Catholic clergy of Asia for their belief that the existence of other religions was an acceptable part of God's plan?

But the truth is, I don't really have a proper comment. I have been a recovering Catholic for a long time, but unfortunately old habits die hard, and I am in truth just really disappointed that the Vatican has again shown itself to be utterly backward. Oddly enough I went to church this weekend, though not for religious reasons-- I was in Durham, and the Cathedral is so incredible it nearly reduced me to tears (if I worship anything it is almost certainly Medieval architecture. Possibly cheese). I had an extra hour to kill until Jeff was done with his conference, and they had an evensong mass. So I went along because I like choral singing, even if I don't usually much like what they sing about.

This time was no exception-- everyone sang with great gusto and the cathedral remained gorgeous, but the hymns were about sin, the readings were about sin. The blessing, because we were in northern England, was about Newcastle hopefully winning that afternoon's game. Despite my usual aversion to football this was actually one of my favourite bits, because the continual harping about how undeserving we are, and how evil we are, and how God is so wonderful to forgive us for our disgusting ways was as disillusioning this time as it was throughout my entire childhood. And then the organist felt the power of somebody who wasn't JC and started to miss notes before going into what seemed to be the score of Frankenstein-- written by a fourteen-year-old wearing black nail polish. It degraded from there and I was forcibly reminded of why the last time I went to Mass was nearly three years ago.

It was the low-point of a very good weekend, though, and as far as low-points go it was at least vaguely stimulating, even if the stimulation was such that it made me want to scream. And the Cathedral is still one of the best things I have seen, so perhaps I can be as magnanimous as God, and forgive memebers of the churches for their primary sin, which is, of course, being so concerned with sin.

Other exciting things--
Durham has a really naff 'Oriental' Museum. Actually, it has a lot of interesting stuff in it, but is arranged terribly. Apparently they want to change the name, but can't think of anything better. I think just about anything else would be better.
Northern England is not the idyllic land of farmers and ruddy-cheeked towns-folk that I have invented in my mind. It doesn't really matter how many times I venture 'cross the border-- each time I am utterly gutted that they have Burger King and New Look, too.
In an uncharacteristic moment of Martha Stewart-type cleanliness, I tried to bleach the bathtub on Monday. Tried. What I succeded in doing was squirting Cif Lemon onto the bath and forgetting it for about eight hours. I was reminded that night when Jez came out of the bathroom and said, 'I think I just took a bath in Cif Lemon.' His skin has not yet begun to fall off in chunks, but it may only be a matter of time. My penance (self-assigned) is that I will never clean the bath again.