Friday, April 18, 2008

Mass Hysteria

So this week the Pope was in Washington, and yesterday gave a mass at Nationals Park. I am not here to discuss the merits and drawbacks of Catholicism or Organized Religion, as these are personal issues. Though for those who read my previous post about Opening Night at Nationals Park, you probably don't wonder at what altar I worship.

Anyway, please take a good look at the below photo:

Is there not an odder place to have a religous service than at a sports venue? Obviously a city's stadiums are its largest public gathering places, so when you want a large service, this is where you go. Makes total sense. Except for the fact that ballparks, and particularly this one, were built to be palaces of conspicuous consumption. The owners of the Nationals want you to spend as much money as you might have to your name at their ballpark. The place was built to stimulate every sense from well before the first pitch (if you weren't aware, there is a PLAYSTATION PAVILION behind center field, just in case you missed your Halo or Guitar Hero for the four hours you're away from your house) to well after the game. All the while, they are hoping you will empty your wallet for Ben's half-smokes, giant foam fingers, and, my personal favorite, helmet sundaes.

So, theoretically, what is more antithetical to such blatant consumerism (and the yang to its yin: accumulation of wealth) than religion? OK, ignore the fact that the Vatican's wealth in uncountable, and focus on the individuals whose faith provides peace and meaning to life, and whose chance to be near the Pope is an unbridled joy. Is there nothing weirder than conducting their most sacred rite in front of Ben's Chili Bowl, at a place that tries to sell its patrons as much beer as humanly possible? I also don't know how you reconcile the holiness of the event with the Miller Lite and Geico ads on the stadium garages.

(As an aside, I must also mention the guy on his cell phone who can't put off business for 90 minutes so he can attend a service led by God's Representative on Earth. Seriously, this is messed up.)

The Pope is leaving town today, and heading to New York to give a mass there. Where, you ask? Yankee Stadium, of course. From one cathedral to another.

Friday, April 11, 2008