Saturday, April 10, 2004


Just as Holy Week leads to the extremes of theology, this tree leads to the extremes of botany. There are realms beyond daily bread and daily trees.

The thorny execrescences erupt from the tree. Are they disease ? Mutation ? Possession ? Transmogrification ? Christ's thorns were imposed, an instrument of what Simone Weil calls "penal suffering."

Fearful of losing their position of privilege, the political and religious authorities of Christ's day -- the hierarchy, the power-brokers -- killed Christ. They were protecting their turf, and their texts and their perks. How dare that radical make such outrageous claims ! Son of God ? Abolish the law, condense the whole canon to "Love God and Love your neighbor" ? What dangerous, seditious nonsense ! How dare he stir up the underclass, the disenfranchised -- there could be serious unrest !

This Holy Week, Archbishop O'Malley pointedly did not wash the feet of women as there were no woman apostles. In his homily last Sunday he listed "feminism" among this century's cultural ills. No women must defile the sacred turf of the priesthood. Every letter of the sacred text must be followed. Heaven ? Not for Protestants, Buddhists, atheists. Marriage ? One man, one woman. Sex ? For making babies only. Divorced ? You are -- I am -- a "scandal." Our lips must not defile the host.

The prickly Archbishop defends his turf, his texts, his perks.

What are these thorns ?

I can only stand and wonder.

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