Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mardi Gras, pancakes and sausage & the pope

Wow --- just the other day it was Christmas and here it is Mardi Gras, which translates from the French as "fat Tuesday" and for those who pay attention to such things as the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the penitential season of Lent. Shrove Tuesday is another oft-used way to say it.

Lent used to be a season of fasting --- and still is for some although Lenten austerity nowadays seems to involve giving up chocolate or, if still a smoker, trying to quit. The name came from a need in Roman Catholic families in the old days to empty the house of fat and other ingredients used in preparing rich foods that would not be consumed for the next 40 days. Hence a lot of extravagant eating crammed into one day --- including pancakes.

The term has since been extended to encompass elaborate partying in the days and weeks prior to Ash Wednesday, getting all of that excess out of one's system before the season to be gloomy began.

All of this is the long way around to saying that we'll be serving a Shrove Tuesday pancake and sausage supper (with juice and coffee on the side) from 5 to 7 p.m. today at St. Andrew's Church --- in cooperation with our Girl Scout troop. Everyone welcome to eat as much as they like in return for free-will donations. All the proceeds --- every cent --- will go to the Ministry Center food bank.

Benedict XVI shows off his summer saturno, fetchingly created from straw adorned with embroideries of golden thread and boullion on red silk.

It has been a great challenge for a protestant, especially a queer one, to be nice in the wake of Pope Benedict XVI's Monday announcement that he would abdicate on Feb. 28. I have only cornered Catholic friends a couple of times and accosted them with the borrowed line, "you know I've never been able to think of Pope Benedict without envisioning him bathed in Hollandaise sauce." Much to my sorrow, one of the accosted did not even realize that eggs benedict is tasty breakfast fare involving --- Hollandaise sauce.

Nor have I even once said, "I did Nazi this coming," a snide reference to Benedict's youthful involvement in both Nazi Youth and the German military. Yes, yes, I know he was drafted in both instances.

Nor have I asked, "what do Queen Beatrix (left) of the Netherlands and Benedict XVI have in common other than the fact both wear dresses and have penchants for outlandish headgear?" The answer, of course, is that Beatrix beat Benedict to the punch by announcing earlier that she would abdicate her throne April 20 in favor of her eldest son, Willem-Alexander.

I've enjoyed many of the headlines, despite their excesses. Take, "Pope stuns the world," for example. It just seems unlikely that many Buddhists, Jews, Muslims or Hindus so much as raised an eyebrow.

Or, "Christian World in Shock." Do you really think many Lutherans spilled their morning coffee upon hearing the news? Or Methodists, or Baptists, or Episcopalians, or Presbyterians? We got over the pope long ago.

Will the next pope be kinder, gentler, perhaps more in tune with the 21st Century? Well, probably not --- as M.E.M. pointed out when dashing my dreams, those Cardinals currently in office who did not help elect Benedict XVI have since been appointed by him.

But you just never know. If an organization like the Boy Scouts can even consider dropping its ban on gay scouts and leaders, perhaps there's hope for a pope who might do something for LGBT people, women and others currently marginalized. Maybe there is hope for forward movement in the Roman Church --- within the next thousand years or so.

Although most likely, The Onion's take on this --- which you can read here --- is more realistic. 

"Responding to the widespread outpouring of shock and sadness surrounding his resignation, Benedict issued a brief statement Monday afternoon consoling his followers, assuring them that “the Church’s most ignorant and regressive days still lie ahead of us,” The Onion report concludes.

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