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Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Conspicuous Consumption November 17, 2014

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Rants.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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:

Grovel to me, or I will hurt you forever

Grovel to me, or I will hurt you forever

That mosaic can best be appreciated in context – here’s what it looks like from the seats:

Is this really necessary?

Is this really necessary?

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.”

Creation beer volcano


1. siriusbizinus - November 17, 2014

You know, people gave this church money to build this. It kind of makes me want to start a religion now. No work, and tax free to boot.

And definitely beer volcanoes have to be part of the dogma. “Baptism by Keg Stand” has a nice ring to it too. I love this post.

Liked by 2 people

2. M.M.J. Gregory - November 19, 2014

Oh Holy FSM. I’m laughing so hard. This post is wonderful.

Liked by 1 person

3. makagutu - November 20, 2014

“The FSM Drops the First Two Strippers into the Beer Volcano.”

That there is a classic.
Awesome post

Liked by 1 person

4. cag - November 22, 2014

For a really disgusting, over the top church, google “The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro”. Midst African poverty is a church that cost $300,000,000 to build. That really is giving it to the poor.


ubi dubium - November 23, 2014

Oh my goodness, I looked it up. That thing is surrounded by run-down shacks, and is in a country where the per-capita annual income is $650. That monstrosity has a 40-room mansion on the grounds built for papal visits that has only been used once. It has seats for thousands, but only draws 350 to services.

Just think of how much real housing could have been built with that money. The waste is staggering.


5. Nan - December 10, 2014

Ubi, thanks for stopping by (and following) my blog. Glad you enjoyed my latest posting. 😀

You might be interested in a posting I did some time back about the garb of the Catholic priests (http://sayitnow.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/catholic-leaders-and-their-fancy-clothes/). Not only does the money go toward ostentatious “religious” buildings, but it also goes on the backs of the leaders.

Liked by 1 person

ubi dubium - December 10, 2014

Oh my goodness, I also went and looked at the description page for all those different clothes, and who wears what at which ceremony in which color. And they act like all that is incredibly important somehow. The Catholics certainly love to complicate religion as much as possible, don’t they? In addition to throwing as much money as possible at it, of course.


Nan - December 10, 2014

Having a fundamentalist background, I’m able to look back and see the “persuasion tactics” (also know as brain_____) that convince people to “serve the Lord.” But Catholics? Most are just plain ignorant of their religion. It’s all bells and whistles (dipping holy water, lighting candles, repeating the rosary, going to mass, taking the sacraments, offering confession, etc., etc.) — all (as you said) incredibly important somehow.

Looking forward to reading more of your posts.

Liked by 1 person

6. Ain't No Shrinking Violet - March 11, 2015

“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.”

HA! I had no idea people refer to the crucifix as “dead jesus on a stick.” Why is it the atheists are always the ones with the best sense of humor? I’m getting quite an education hanging out here.

And I’m going to die laughing over that big, flaming jesus mosaic. It’s horrible!

PS you’re correct that the catholic church doesn’t spend time teaching it’s members about it’s more controversial topics…it tucks those away while you’re busy praying the rosary and asking forgiveness for being born. Catholics are ignorant of their religion because they don’t know what they don’t know, and the old white men in power aren’t going to tell them anything that might make their brains activate. I think mormons could be similar to us in this area.


ubi dubium - March 12, 2015

Actually I toned it down a little for this post. I’d usually say “Cosmic Jewish Zombie on a Stick”.

Atheists are funnier, because we don’t have any areas that are declared “off limits” to humor because they are “sacred” (whatever that is supposed to mean.) Have you tried listening to George Carlin’s monologues on religion? They’re some of the best!


7. Ain't No Shrinking Violet - March 12, 2015

I looked george up on youtube and he *was* pretty damn funny. Unsurprisingly, his performances were not part of my catholic education.

Love the Cosmic Jewish Zombie On a Stick phrase, as I’ve always had a love for zombies (and dream about them eating me constantly). I’m finding I missed out on a whole world of comedy being catholic…thank goodness the atheists are here to endlessly entertain me with their religious antics. Your pics of the nordic flaming jesus are the funniest damn thing I’ve seen in a long time…what were they THINKING when they put that up there? And why did no one have the sense to TAKE IT DOWN once they got a look at the finished piece? 😀



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