Friday, April 22, 2005

A Religious Experience

As you may know, the Catholic Student Center held a Memorial Mass for our late pontiff, John Paul II, two weeks ago. Almost 500 students came, as well as some other university chaplains. But, though Fr. Bill had extended a very nice invitation to them, not one member of the administration showed up. Not one. It was rude, to say the least.

At first I thought that despite the fact the Catholic Church is the most diverse body in the world, we weren't diverse enough for the administration, since that's their big kick. But less than a week later, I found out that's only part of the problem. The other half is that the administration, however smart individual members may be in their own fields, have little wisdom when it comes to things spiritual.

A was invited to represent the journalism college at a "Celebration of Scholarships" luncheon the administration hosted at the new Samuel Riggs Alumni Center last week. In addition to showing off some of my work, I got a free lunch, which was attended by 500 other people. During the lunch, basketball coach Gary Williams spoke and then university President Dan Mote did.

You can't see it in the drawings on the website, by the Alumni Center has a big stained glass window of Maryland's flag on one wall. The luncheon was the first event held at the center.

During the event, President Mote remarked: "Isn't this new building just beautiful. It's amazing. With the stained glass, it's almost a religious experience. It's just fanastic. Really like a religious experience."

I started laughing at the ridiculousness of it all, and my iced tea almost came flying out of my mouth. Mote thinks stained glass = religious experience. Dr. Mote may be one of the world's leading experts on the physics of skiing, but that doesn't absolve him from stupidity.

As Thomas A. of Catholicae Testudines said when I told them the story...People have such an innate desire for liturgy that when they reject the authentic liturgy (the Mass, most importantly), they compensate for it by creating their own pseudo liturgies, like putting a stained glass flag in the wall of an alumni center to give the building the feeling of a "religious experience."