Sunday, August 21, 2016

Church Ladies and Chariots - column, 21 August 2016

Mack Hall, HSG

Church Ladies and Chariots

“School is just around the corner.” No it’s not; it’s a few miles down the road. Simply follow the big yellow bus on which the wheels go ‘round and ‘round, and be a grownup about the amber and red lights. Certain functionaries in the democratically-elected government of the State of Texas regard children as but medical waste, but we know better. Children are precious. Even when they’re making faces at you from the back window.

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Why do internet service providers and computer manufacturers seem to be universally dishonest? My latest famous-name-brand disposable computer and its shadowy operatives in Shanghai keep sending me exclamation-mark notices about important software updates which usually turn out to be camouflaged games. Settings / apps / uninstall.

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The International Olympic Committee is a shadowy organization composed of sinister, secretive, and powerful men operating from inconspicuous bases in Europe – perhaps the I.O.C. is really T.H.R.U.S.H. from The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

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Remember when Bill and Hillary were the cool kids?

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The InterGossip reports that the latest version of Ben-Hur is not doing well at the cinemas. There is much discussion about possible inadequacies in plot, casting, or direction, but few consider two other possible explanations: cartooning and color.

In the previous movie adaptations of General Wallace’s novel crowd scenes really were crowd scenes. Thousands of folks were employed to fill the stadium at Cinecitta Studios in Rome in 1959 for the chariot race. Now, with electronic cartooning, the producers need only hire a few dozen extras and then manipulate the images into unreal thousands. There is nothing ethically or artistically wrong in this, but it just doesn’t feel right. One almost expects Bugs Bunny or Donald Duck to appear in the next chariot, with Elmer Fudd as the Emperor of Rome intoning “Wet the Wames Bewin.” Cartooning is perfect for Frozen, but wrong for live-action.

The Mediterranean world is reported by reliable sources to be in color. Modern movie-makers, however, seem to want to persuade viewers that Creation is mostly sepia-toned, with little sparkle to relieve the gloom. The previews of the new ‘n’ improved Ben-Hur indicate a continuance of this drab fashion. There are two artistic choices in imaging – sharp, crisp black-and-white is one. The other is color, glorious color, color flung energetically onto the screen, color that stands up and yells “Here I am!” and not the doughy, pasty pseudo-color that looks like a palette of date-expired buttermilk.

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On Sunday the beginning of the liturgy at Notre Dame de LaSalette was paused for about thirty seconds while the in-training Nonna / Abuela / Babushka / Oma / Meme’ / Church Lady adjusted the hoods of the habits – the albs, not the behaviors – of the young altar servers. God gives us church ladies because if some things were left to men they simply wouldn’t get done, and Sunday observances would collapse in an existentially bleak wilderness of askew hoods and flowerless altars. In the hierarchy a church lady is superior to a priest (just ask the church lady) but inferior to a bishop, and more knowledgeable than either about how matters of faith and practice ought to be accomplished.

In a world of uncertainties how thankful we should be for the constancy of church ladies and young people who volunteer to serve, and for the freedom of all of us to attend divine services without being shot for doing so.


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