05 February 2011

Macabre souvenirs

Three weeks ago I was making fun of Christian rituals, like people suspending ship models from the ceiling of their cathedral to ask for good luck. This blog's mission is irreverence but it seems this got a reaction in High Places.

So Our Lord God was Not Amused and sent two of His Angels to earth to lead me to The Right Path so the Heavens will Rejoice and the Angels will Sing and Justice will Smite This Blog. The Angels were two Well-Dressed Young Men bearing The Message of God, in the form of the Book or Mormon, and Spoke mostly in Capital Letters. I felt like Lot except I didn't have any virgin daughters to send out to "be known" by the mob, and I am not into repeated incest. (Read the story in the bible but keep reading after the salt pillar bit. That's the only righteous god-fearing man in Sodom? You'll be shocked; proves that the bible should be X-rated and pulled from Amazon's shelves.)

Anyway, I had a very lively discussion with the angels, who spoke English. I firmly believe that the claims made by those people are not above rational analysis and religion does not have a special exemption from probing questions. My two poor angels didn't do too well I am afraid, their arguments were completely circular and whenever one of their claims collapsed they were sandbagging behind some really weird convictions "they knew in their hearts to be true". Wishful thinking, all of it. After half an hour they remembered an important appointment and left in a hurry. I hope they won't get their wings clipped. Maybe if the gods blogged more we wouldn't have this problem.

(Reminds me of a similar event when I was a student and some Jehovah's Witnesses stood at my door and asked, "what would you do if you had but one day to live", and I crashed their brains by answering, "die.")

So I packed my camera equipment and sought spiritual guidance, or, failing that, some good photo opportunities, at the church of Saint-Victoire south of the old harbor. It's a massive fortress without too much in the way of decoration. But they have a lovingly arranged collection of relics mounted in gold and velvet containers, including a skull and a varied collection of bones and bone fragments.

Now is this stuff weird or what? No wonder people brought up with this sort of thing aren't thinking too clearly. But the Marseillaise are almost spartan when tuppering their relics, look at this monstrosity I found in Siena, Italy: