Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Conspicuous Consumption November 17, 2014Posted by Ubi Dubium in Rants.
Tags: Angry Jesus, atheism, Basilica, Catholic, church, Mosaic, religion, Shrine, stupidity
I spent part of this past weekend at an event at, get ready for it, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. No expense has been spared in making this the most ostentatious show of piety possible. This is one of the largest churches in the world, built in a Byzantine style with small windows and lots of domes, and the interior is completely covered with expensive polished marble, and mosaics.
And not just your average mosaics, either. For a lot of them, the background is done in clear glass backed by gold leaf, so that it glitters. The place full of nooks and chapels, each of which has some statue or icon or glittery mosaic, and the open spaces are likewise filled with statuary and memorials. (And places where you can pay to light candles. In the center of the basement is a big rack where they ask $4.00 to light one candle.) There are walls full of engraved names of the people who donated money to build this thing.
The people around me were Oooohing and Aaaahing about how pretty and impressive this place was. Since I was a guest there, I did a good job of holding my tongue, but I just wanted to scream. Or maybe hurl. Or both. Here’s a religion where the founder made a point of being humble, told his followers not to make a show of public prayer, and to sell all they had and give it to the poor, and this is what they build? A monument to the wealth of their bureaucracy? All the time I was there, I kept thinking “They could have spent a tenth as much, built themselves a really nice church, and then spent the rest on low-income housing. Or feeding the poor. Or buying a mosquito net for every person in Africa, with enough left over to, I don’t know, cure AIDS or something.”
Right at the front of the church is a huge mosaic of Jesus. Not the normal catholic Dead Jesus on a Stick. Not comforting Good Shepherd Jesus welcoming believers into paradise. No, this is Angry Nordic Flaming Jesus! This is what stares down on the congregation:
That mosaic can best be appreciated in context – here’s what it looks like from the seats:
Now my general opinion of gods is that they are projections of the human ego, ourselves – just bigger and more powerful. That’s why they have wants and needs, and why their opinions line up so neatly with what their followers already think. Then we build big pointy temples to them to glorify our egos, often as if we’re compensating for something. The men (and I’m pretty sure it’s men in this case) who built this monstrosity certainly seem to have a lot to compensate for!
There was one mosaic that I didn’t completely hate. I think they meant it as “The creation of the world”, or some such, but I’m going to call it “The FSM Drops the First Two Strippers into the Beer Volcano.”