Friday, July 6, 2007

The Vatican is all set to publish a papal doctrine, allowing priests to celebrate the Tridentine Mass without prior approval from the local bishop. Benedict is trying to win the prodigal, excommunicated Lefebvrist movement back into the flock (along with devout Christian Mel Gibson), and simultaneously alienating everyone who'd actually want to understand the Word of the Lord. I don't go to church, so none of this really matters to me except that centuries-old ass-backwardness in a world that desperately needs forward momentum in its unjustifiable faith-based dogmata.

See, the Tridentine Mass is the traditional, old-timey mass, where the priest faces the altar, not the congregation, and the priest speaks the mass in Latin, the language of Jesus.... if Jesus lived six hundred years longer than he actually did. Which, even though he was Jesus, he didn't. It's not the mass itself that bothers me, it's the ignorance of the contexts it gets put into. Some octogenerian, remembering the good old days, when church wasn't air-conditioned, gives the media a "man on the street" quote, rambling on about tradition and how the church has strayed. I get the same vibe from Benedict (maybe it's just that he looks like he's 150 years old): the old church was great, and the new church is a moral wasteland of gays, abortionists, and gay abortionists.

I love ecclesiastical history precisely because it's so incredibly debauched. There was a period in the Church's history called the "Pornocracy," for Heaven's sake! Bet you didn't know that, old lady who's mindlessly reciting the Rosary! In fact, two-thousand years of Catholic tradition make our modern vacuous Hollywood culture look almost saintly: orgies, murder, incest, and putting corpses on trial, like the world's longest-running soap opera. The modern church has apologized for much of its sketchy medieval history — of course, it still has its recent history to apologize for — and I think the increased transparency in religious ritual has something to do with that. It's harder to follow something blindly when you can actually see what you're following.

While I'm at it, I'd also like to take on the other argument of mouthpieces for the Church's antediluvian dogma — that the Tridentine Mass somehow restores God's law. On a personal level, I'm agnostic, but I absolutely refuse to believe in the idea of a god who wants his message obfuscated. But to the people who hold this viewpoint: How are you so sure what God's favorite language is? The guy who initiated the vernacular mass, he was a freaking pope! Were you ever pope? I didn't think so.