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Profaning The Sacred At The Met Gala

In the autumn of 1989, or maybe 1990, I was looking for a Halloween costume. I had it in my head to costume as a cleric for some reason. I was nominally Christian, and curious about Roman Catholicism, but not religious in any real sense. I decided to go to a rectory at an older inner city parish, to see if they had any old cassocks they weren’t using. Maybe they’ll sell me one.

The old man who received me at the rectory door might have been a priest. He wasn’t dressed as one, but I assume he was one. He was visibly shocked by my request. “You can’t wear those as costumes,” he said. “They’re sacred. They’re only for church.”

He was polite, no doubt seeing in me what I was: an ignorant man in his early 20s who meant no harm. I apologized to the old man, said I didn’t realize this, and told him goodbye. I was so embarrassed by it, though, that I hand-wrote a letter of apology, and sent it to the rectory. I remember in the letter, thanking the old man (whose name I never knew) for teaching me something about sacredness, and how the Roman Catholic church treats garments used in religious life. I told him that this sense of the sacred is something I, as an outsider, admired about Catholicism, and that, to be honest, drew me to it.

Within three or four years, I would be a Catholic.

I thought about that old man — surely he was a priest — this morning when Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Catholic archbishop of New York, joked that he allowed the pop star Rihanna to borrow one of his mitres [1] for the big Metropolitan Museum gala this week:

To top it all off, Rihanna wore a bejeweled headpiece that was similar to the papal crowns of the middle ages, prompting Cardinal Timothy Dolan to joke on Tuesday that she had borrowed one of his mitres for the evening.

Mitres can only be worn by individuals who have achieved the rank of bishop or abbot in the church.

He spoke about the evening on SiriusXM’s The Catholic Channel [2] and brought up the look when someone mentioned Rihanna’s showstopping coronet, saying: ‘Yes, in fact the news said she was wearing a tiara, which no she was wearing a mitre and she gave it back to me this morning.’

Cardinal Dolan’s announcement led to much laughter, and he did not stop there, revealing that the pop star had also made him a sacred promise.

‘I was teasing my auxiliaries, bishops, who were teasing me about Rihanna and I said, “hey you guys should not complain because she’s volunteered to do some confirmation,”‘ said Cardinal Dolan.

‘She was very gracious, everybody was I couldn’t believe it.’

Dolan was kidding. The mitre worn by the pop star was a creation of the fashion designer John Galliano. Rihanna, a pop superstar, is known for her, um, forward lyrics. For example, this excerpt from her 2016 single “Sex With Me”:

You know I got the sauce (sauce)
You know I’m saucy
And it’s always wet
A bitch never ever had to use lip gloss on it
I’ma need you deeper than six, not a coffin
We’re not making love, tryna get nasty
Grab up your drugs, that make me happy
Sex with me is amazing, with her it’ll feel alright
The sex doesn’t get any better, make it long, let it be all night
I know, I know, I make it hard to let go
Tonight, all night, I’ma roll
Even if I’m alone

And there’s this charming verse from her 2010 ditty, “S&M”:

‘Cause I may be bad but I’m perfectly good at it
Sex in the air, I don’t care, I love the smell of it
Sticks and stones may break my bones
But chains and whips excite me

Cardinal Dolan’s big friend. “She’s volunteered to do some confirmation.” Bwahahahahaha!

A prince of the Church. The Jesuits were represented too.

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The occasion was the formal opening of a new exhibit, “Heavenly Bodies,” which concerns clothing and accoutrements in Catholicism. A writer for America magazine said that Catholics shouldn’t waste their time being offended [6]. Excerpts:

In that sense, the gala achieved what the exhibition could not, since there was no separation of “church” and “world” there. Cardinal Dolan attended, as did America’s James Martin, S.J., and they roamed among Catholics like Stephen Colbert and former altar boys Jimmy Fallon and George Clooney, in addition to celebrities of all sorts of viewpoints and faith traditions showing their interpretations [7] (and celebrations [8]) of the faith. Lena Waithe  [9]donned a rainbow cape, explaining [10]: “The theme to me is like be yourself. You were made in God’s image, right?”

For many attendees, meeting Cardinal Dolan and Father Martin was a rare interaction with clergy. “There were a quarter of people who had no clue, seemingly, what a priest was,” said Father Martin, “and said all sorts of crazy things to me like like, ‘Hey bro, you’ve got the best costume of the night! Are you a real priest?’”

“I don’t think they were trying to be offensive,” Father Martin told America. “[As] Pope Francis likes to say, you try to meet people where they are, right? And that night they were at the Met Gala. So you meet them there.”

Presumably he said that with a straight face. The Times‘s coverage [10]appeared under this headline:

Which tells you something.

Backslapping Cardinal Dolan embarrassed himself, at least according to Kyle Smith: [11]

“The basic unseriousness of modern life is exemplified by the fact that New York Catholics are not rioting to shut down the Met Gala,” tweeted the conservative Harvard Law School professor Adrian Vermeule. I wouldn’t go that far. How about a little light condemnation, though? Failing that, how about senior Catholics at least declining to cooperate? Yet the Church’s senior official in the area, the archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, effectively blessed the event.

“You may be asking what is the Church doing, why is the Church part of all of this?” Dolan said during a press conference before attending the gala. “You may be asking, what is the cardinal archbishop of New York doing here?”

Yes, that is exactly what I’m asking. With each passing year, the Catholic Church becomes more of a target of derision and scorn from Western elites. There used to be pushback from the Church itself. As recently as 1989, Madonna’s profanation of Christian imagery in her “Like a Prayer” video caused so much disgust that Pepsi canceled a commercial starring her and backed out of sponsoring her tour. Gradually, as Madonna moved on to provocations like the disco-crucifixion act in her 2006 tour, the Church began to sense that any attention it paid to such matters would amount to free publicity and grew less vocal about pop culture.

For the Met Gala, though, the Church took the side of its enemies. In his press conference, Dolan made a cringe-inducing attempt to declare common ground with the gala’s ethos of gaudy, narcissistic, sin-loving materialism. “The church and the Catholic imagination — the theme of this exhibit — are all about three things: truth, goodness and beauty,” Dolan said. “That’s why we’re into things such as art, culture, music, literature, and, yes, even fashion.”

Being “into” modern things seems to be the new party line as set by the Vatican, which threw open its doors to New York curators to create the new Met exhibit associated with the gala, “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.” The Monday-night blowout was just the latest worrying sign that the current pontificate is trying to ingratiate itself with outsiders who reject the Church’s goals. Eager to be “welcoming” and not “judgmental,” Pope Francis is reforming it according to its enemies’ vision.

This is a recipe for self-destruction. Serially removing each of the characteristics that make Catholicism unique will hollow out the Church until it collapses. This is entirely the goal for those who hate the Catholic Church. They want to extinguish the last bits of its influence and twerk on the remains. Do I really have to explain that Kim Kardashian’s path is not the path forward for the Church? Why encourage mixing enduring symbols with the shallow ostentation of Katy Perry or RiRi

There is very little that is less appealing than a clergyman trying to be hip.

Ross Douthat’s take on the Met gala in interesting. [12] Douthat points out that in the Vatican II era, the Roman church tossed out the aesthetics that made it distinctly Catholic, and instead stripped down its liturgy and everything else to accommodate modernity. It has been a failure, aesthetically and otherwise. Douthat:

Instead, the quest for accommodation seems to encourage moderns to divide their sense of what Catholicism represents in two — into an Old Church that’s frightening and fascinating in equal measure, and a New Church that’s a little more liked but much more easily ignored.

Francis and other would-be modernizers are right, and have always been right, that Catholic Christianity should not trade on fear. But a religion that claims to be divinely established cannot persuade without a lot of fascination, and far too much of that has been given up, consigned to the museum, as Western Catholicism has traced its slow decline.

Here the Met Gala should offer the faith from which it took its theme a little bit of inspiration. The path forward for the Catholic Church in the modern world is extraordinarily uncertain. But there is no plausible path that does not involve more of what was displayed and appropriated and blasphemed against in New York City Monday night, more of what once made Catholicism both great and weird, and could yet make it both again.

This is an astute column. Douthat — who is Catholic, as you will recall — acknowledges that the gala was to some degree blasphemous, but the fact that it existed at all is a backhanded tribute to the power of traditional Catholic culture. The Metropolitan Museum will not have an exhibit or a gala to celebrate Protestant adornments, or to celebrate post-Vatican II Catholic aesthetics. There’s not enough there to blaspheme against.

Philosophy begins in wonder, said Aristotle. It’s even more true of religion. That’s what Douthat is getting at. In Christianity, the material culture produced by historic Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christianity evokes that kind of wonder. In the year 987, Vladimir, pagan Prince of the Kievan Rus, sent out ambassadors to investigate the religions of nearby lands, to see if there was something in those faiths for his own people. They found the Christianity of the Germans to be too dour. Islam wasn’t appealing either. But then they went to Constantinople, to the Hagia Sophia, and reported back:

“And we went into the Greek lands, and we were led into a place where they serve their God, and we did not know where we were, on heaven or on earth; and do not know how to tell about this. All we know is that God lives there with people and their service is better than in any other country. We cannot forget that beauty since each person, if he eats something sweet, will not take something bitter afterwards; so we cannot remain any more in paganism.”

That is why Russia is Orthodox today. Beauty matters.

Speaking of wonder, I do wonder what the hell a cardinal archbishop of the Catholic Church was doing giving his imprimatur to that mockery of the sacred, and even gushing on Catholic radio about how cool it is that Miss Chains-And-Whips-Excite-Me was nice to him.

I can see wanting to be part of the religion that, in the guise of that little old unknown Catholic priest, refused to let a heathen like me wear its cassock as a party costume, because that would be sacrilegious. I can’t see wanting to be part of a religion whose priests encourage that kind of sacrilege as a blessing from the world that in fact hates it.

UPDATE: What the gala-goers gorged on:

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UPDATE.2: Erin Manning:

Thank you for this, Rod. I made the mistake of talking about this on Facebook, and have been sternly corrected by my Catholic betters for not looking at this like Jesus, since He would apparently have been totally cool with the whole thing.

Lest anybody think I’m talking about liberal Catholics–nope. A couple of deacons, self-described “orthodox” lay people, all of them rushing to Facebook to tell everybody that, why, they have NO opinion about this whatsoever and can’t understand why anybody else cares about it at all, because really it’s no big deal or anything for Catholicism to be mocked like this, and after all Cardinal Dolan and Father Martin were there and clearly the Church has no problem with this sort of thing, so all of us who do care are Pharisees.

I’m at the point where I think that if somebody put a fumie down in front of this crowd, their main concerns would be 1. Was it ethically sourced? 2. Does everybody have a helmet to wear while stepping on it? and 3. Have we already clapped for the visitors and those celebrating birthdays? Then everybody’d be good to go.

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138 Comments (Open | Close)

138 Comments To "Profaning The Sacred At The Met Gala"

#1 Comment By mrscracker On May 10, 2018 @ 10:33 am

I saw this today on the UK Catholic Herald site:

“… Don’t dignify any perceived irreverence by getting angry, but don’t debase the Church by playing along too readily, either.
Just keep being weird. Scandalise them with truth, goodness, and beauty. A self-possessed and unyielding Catholicism – one loftily indifferent to the rise and fall of popular opinion – is what our contemporaries secretly crave. So give it to them.”

[17]

#2 Comment By WAB On May 10, 2018 @ 10:37 am

I take another tack altogether.

They’re a persuasive illustration of the argument for a 90% marginal tax rate on the wealthy. These people have way too much damn money.

#3 Comment By K-Dog-One On May 10, 2018 @ 10:45 am

Once upon a time, I considered becoming Roman Catholic because the Protestant denomination in which I was a Christian was sliding at an increasing rate (and continues to do so) into blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy. My motivation for considering Roman Catholicism was to be part of an orthodox Christian church.

I decided against that move. Thank goodness.

Roman Catholicism as a stronghold of Christian orthodoxy? Nope.

#4 Comment By O.L. Johnson On May 10, 2018 @ 10:54 am

“Higher echelon clerics attending vaudeville. Hip and clueless pagans fascinated by shiny beads and trinkets. Too bad, because it may have been a teachable moment…”

Imagine how Cardinal Burke would have reacted. Whatever would have happened, it wouldn’t have been buffoonery.

#5 Comment By chaswjd On May 10, 2018 @ 11:18 am

First, of all, the mitre in the photograph is certainly not one of the Cardinal’s. Despite (probably) having many ornate mitres of his predecessors to chose from, I cannot see him using any of them. His taste in liturgy tended to the prosaic in his previous posting.

Second, I wonder where those concerned about cultural appropriation are. Perhaps they are simply recovering from their exertions in connection with the Chinese prom dress.

As a final and more important point, I do understand that it is difficult to balance the vertical and horizontal dimensions of worship. That said, the mass is supposed to be a re-presentation of the central event of human history. If that is true, I wonder what about the vestments, music and environment of the average Catholic parish actually conveys that.

[NFR: My commentary makes it clear that Dolan was joking about that being his mitre. — RD]

#6 Comment By M_Young On May 10, 2018 @ 11:22 am

‘High fives” …?

Bet Fr. Martin S.J brings his Red, White and Blue ABA ball for midnight hoops at the Boys and Girls Clubs?*

*Hey, they’re gonna have to change that name soon, no?

#7 Comment By Robert B Lewis On May 10, 2018 @ 11:47 am

There are several mistakes in translating Marcel Proust’s fantastic description of the threatened demise of the cathedral of France:

“… and sculpted beneath His feet…” should be “ARE sculpted…”

“…Rational of the Divine Offices…” should be “…Rationale…”

“…down the stole he wears…” should be “…down TO the…”

And the biggest:

“…one experiences something like inebriety…” should be “…inebriation…”

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#8 Comment By Ben H On May 10, 2018 @ 11:51 am

Are there any public, celebrity inclusive events (awards shows on TV, this thing, Superbowl music shows etc) which don’t resemble satanic liturgies? It’s like spirit cooking is our new national pastime.

#9 Comment By charles cosimano On May 10, 2018 @ 12:06 pm

[Jesus didn’t preach in a Gothic cathedral either. Should we tear those down? — RD]

Considering that when I was in my Pentecostal period I considered them an absolute abomination, the answer would have been, “Yes!”

“Imagine how Cardinal Burke would have reacted. Whatever would have happened, it wouldn’t have been buffoonery.”

Pity he hasn’t. It would be fun to watch Cardinal Burke be banished with laughter and the now traditional line, “Throw that man a choirboy!” You don’t know what ridicule is.

#10 Comment By Robert B Lewis On May 10, 2018 @ 12:08 pm

Well, the reason I put the comment above up is because I thought someone had dared us to find the “howlers” in Rorate Coeli’s translation of the Proust essay–which is brilliant and deeply civilized and humane, like everything he wrote. Guess not!

#11 Comment By Rudy On May 10, 2018 @ 12:11 pm

“Amen,amen I say to you, that you shall lament and weep, but the world shall rejoice;
and you shall be made sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned to joy.”
Gird your loins.

#12 Comment By M_Young On May 10, 2018 @ 12:26 pm

The real scandal is that Kim Kardashian copied Beyonce , or vice versa

[19]

#13 Comment By Jack On May 10, 2018 @ 12:44 pm

Cardinal Dolan has always enjoyed hamming it up for a secular audience. Whenever he is challenged on this, he habitually says that he is simply following the example of Christ in spending much of his time among sinners.

The problem with this approach is that, unlike with Christ, it doesn’t seem to work for Cardinal Dolan. Has he succeeded in drawing anyone to the Church by being jovial at events involving secular elites?

Even if the answer to this question is a clear no, it’s unlikely that Cardinal Dolan is going to change his ways. He will likely never be a Ben-Opper.

#14 Comment By KD On May 10, 2018 @ 1:03 pm

What is important to note is that if someone pulled this baloney in Russia, Putin would jail them.

If someone did this in India, a mob of enraged Hindu nationalists would lock the instigator with the rest of his or her blood line in their house and burn it to the ground.

That is because Orthodoxy in Russia still has a meaningful role in communal life, and likewise Hinduism in India.

America’s only real religion is racism. BLM gets offended over Black shootings, so a mob goes out and frags a bunch of cops in Dallas. Pathetic.

#15 Comment By James C. On May 10, 2018 @ 1:17 pm

I don’t see mockery here. To mock something you have to know something about it and mockery has hostile intent.

Chastity and modesty…they were mocking these things for sure, and the fact that Catholicism values them.

I remember an episode of South Park that depicted the Virgin Mary farting blood all over Pope Benedict’s face. These people know what they are doing, and they know they can get away with it.

Imagine having a model wear a hijab with a bikini thong imprinted with words of the Koran. These same celebrities would be shrieking “Islamophobia!”

#16 Comment By Erin Manning On May 10, 2018 @ 1:18 pm

James Kabala, I took part in about half a dozen online conversations on this topic yesterday (always a bad idea). I know you weren’t involved in the worst one, where a couple of women attacked me personally and opined that not only was the gala not a big deal, but also that it’s perfectly fine for my daughters to put up with blatant anti-Catholicism at school and at work on a daily basis because at least nobody is killing them (that one got shut down, and I think the gentleman on whose wall it was happening took steps to moderate it after that; for my own sanity I decided not to go back to it).

I can’t remember if you were in the conversation where someone’s response to me was to accuse me of having a persecution complex, though that also happened early in a multiple-comment thread so you may not have seen it.

Here’s the thing: there is a definite clique of popular internet Catholic writers (I am not one of them, in case anybody wonders). It’s made up of a handful of writers who are writing for tiny publications, plus their followers. Every time something like this Met Gala thing happens, these writers tell their followers what to think about it all. Yesterday was an interesting coalition, because usually these things break down on Left/Right party lines (e.g., the Catholic left-wingers take one position, and the Catholic right-wingers take the other, and their follower dutifully parrot the correct opinion for their side all over Facebook and Twitter). But yesterday you had the left-wing Catholics decide that the Met Gala was an example of evangelism to the margins of the rich and uptrodden and that only prudish Pharisees could have a problem with it–and at the same time you had a lot of middle-of-the-roaders who lean right (but are not, say, Trump voters or Latin Mass types) *also* declaring that the Met Gala was a good thing, because after all Cardinal Dolan and other clergy were involved (and this group includes some clergy who will defend clergy no matter what is going on). So the “party line” was “Oh, it’s no big deal to have celebs dressed up like the pope, or Our Lady, or Jesus, and anybody who even cares about this is just wrong.” It got pretty discouraging, frankly.

#17 Comment By James C. On May 10, 2018 @ 1:22 pm

I will add that I am not shocked that the decadent elites of the American anti-culture do this stuff. It’s old hat. What I’m angry about is that prominent clergy of my church would cooperate and participate in it, thus giving the impression that the Church approves of sacrilege.

#18 Comment By Marie On May 10, 2018 @ 1:36 pm

I haven’t been a Catholic in a very long time and don’t have much regard for the Church any more, but even I can see this as the mockery it was intended to be. Were I still Catholic, I’d have been offended by the display.

If, in fact, Church officials approved or went along with this, well, I’m of the opinion that they’re shooting themselves in the foot. This self-destructive behavior reminds me of a comment made by John Michael Greer which, paraphrased, went something like: the Catholic Church has done tremendous damage to Satanism – how do you parody a guitar mass? (For those who don’t understand what he’s getting at, the point is that when you take something sacred and make it pedestrian you lose some of its power.)

An aside to the commenters who refer to anything that is not christian, and therefore evil/wrong/dishonest/immoral, as “pagan”. This is incorrect. Pagans, like Christians, can be good or bad, moral or immoral, and honest or dishonest.

#19 Comment By Tom R On May 10, 2018 @ 2:47 pm

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves, so be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves”
Cardinal Dolan should practice up on the first.

#20 Comment By charles cosimano On May 10, 2018 @ 3:20 pm

“Imagine having a model wear a hijab with a bikini thong imprinted with words of the Koran.”

I think I saw something like that at a biker gathering but no one objected because they were, like, bikers.

#21 Comment By TR On May 10, 2018 @ 4:08 pm

Someone wondered if Fulton Sheen would have attended such an event. Not in the 1950s, but if he were alive today, who knows. He did have an affinity for the haute bourgeoisie.

Someone else mentioned Cardinal Burke: If he had attended would he have worn his absolutely fabulous capa magna in glorious blood red? What a fine spokesman for a great tradition!

#22 Comment By grumpy realist On May 10, 2018 @ 6:11 pm

Is this really in worse taste than the balls that used to be held in England during the Terror, “a la victime”, where women would shingle their hair and wear red ribbons around their necks mimicking those who went to the guillotine?

Fashion has always skirted–if not gone over–the edge of bad taste. Don’t blame it on modernity.

#23 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On May 10, 2018 @ 6:28 pm

I don’t dispute the argument that the MET gala attendands need an evangelizing outreach. They might be rich and powerful, but for that very reason very likely not to make it to Heaven (remember the camel…)

However, Zacchaeus turned to Christ when he saw that he was the Truth, and his own life so far life a lie. Jesus didn’t go looking for Zacchaeus at a tax collectors’ party paid for with malversation money. And He wasn’t cool with blasphemy either – remember the merchants? Cd. Dolan and Fr. Martin are actually affirming those folk in their mendacious ways.
Had I been Cd. Dolan, rather than going myself, I would have sent an uncouth barefooted minor friar with a knotty walking stick so to instil some respect on the back of those dunces.

And let me say it again and again: this is again an indictment of Jesuitism.
This form of Jesuit evangelization was maybe useful when Matteo Ricci went to China, but those were lands of first evangelization. Ours are lands of apostasy. A better evangelizing method would be to witness the Truth and to be despised and shunned for it. But our churchmen cannot do away with their worldly pride.

#24 Comment By Jonathan Scinto On May 10, 2018 @ 7:22 pm

What is important to note is that if someone pulled this baloney in Russia, Putin would jail them.
If someone did this in India, a mob of enraged Hindu nationalists would lock the instigator with the rest of his or her bloodline in their house and burn it to the ground.

Naturally behavior we should emulate. It’s almost like we’re civilized or something.

#25 Comment By charles cosimano On May 10, 2018 @ 10:08 pm

“Had I been Cd. Dolan, rather than going myself, I would have sent an uncouth barefooted minor friar with a knotty walking stick so to instil some respect on the back of those dunces.”

What that nut would instill would only be convulsive laughter as the security hurled him headlong onto the street after subduing him with a taser.

Ok, that one is even better than Cardinal Burke throwing a hissy fit. The next day’s headline. “Terrorist monk attacks MetGala.”

No doubt everyone would be suitable impressed but not in the way you want.

#26 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On May 11, 2018 @ 12:11 am

BLM gets offended over Black shootings, so a mob goes out and frags a bunch of cops in Dallas.

Not accurate. A peaceful protest march was underway, with Dallas police providing traffic control to facilitate the march and keep everything peaceful, when a specific individual opened fire on the officers providing traffic control and security for the BLM protest.

#27 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On May 11, 2018 @ 12:11 am

BLM gets offended over Black shootings, so a mob goes out and frags a bunch of cops in Dallas.

Not accurate. A peaceful protest march was underway, with Dallas police providing traffic control to facilitate the march and keep everything peaceful, when a specific individual opened fire on the officers providing traffic control and security for the BLM protest.

#28 Comment By Jefferson Smith On May 11, 2018 @ 10:12 am

@KD:

BLM gets offended over Black shootings, so a mob goes out and frags a bunch of cops in Dallas. Pathetic.

Yes, it was like that other time in Dallas when a mob descended on President Kennedy’s motorcade and lynched him. Shameful stuff indeed.

#29 Comment By charles cosimano On May 11, 2018 @ 11:58 am

“Naturally behavior we should emulate. It’s almost like we’re civilized or something.”

The true face of traditionalism.

#30 Comment By Pshr On May 11, 2018 @ 3:14 pm

dd says:
“(BTW, Would the Met Gala have used Islam instead? Of course not….because of fear of violence. ”

You are simply trying to be provocative for no particular reason expect bigotry.

Why would the Met Gala even consider using Islam? Has Islam ever encouraged such shows of decadency and immodesty? Does Islam have such elaborate dress codes which can be “caricatured”?

#31 Comment By mrscracker On May 11, 2018 @ 4:06 pm

Pshr says:

“Why would the Met Gala even consider using Islam? Has Islam ever encouraged such shows of decadency and immodesty? Does Islam have such elaborate dress codes which can be “caricatured”?”
****************
Do you believe the Catholic Church has historically endorsed immodesty? As an old school Catholic, I generally get beat up in conversations for being overly concerned with issues like modesty.

I’m no expert on Islam, but for sure, there is some dress that appears exotic to Westerners & could easily be “caricatured.”

#32 Comment By TA On May 11, 2018 @ 4:53 pm

But the Met Gala is a New York City tradition.

Shouldn’t we be accepting of it and asking ourselves what we can learn from the tradition instead of critiquing it and asking what it does for us?

#33 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On May 11, 2018 @ 7:29 pm

No doubt everyone would be suitable impressed but not in the way you want.

Exactly the way I’d want, Uncle Chuckie.

#34 Comment By charles cosimano On May 11, 2018 @ 7:34 pm

“You are simply trying to be provocative for no particular reason expect bigotry.”

Good enough reason for me. Any excuse for a party.

“Does Islam have such elaborate dress codes which can be “caricatured”?”

Ever heard of an hajib? It goes good with a bikini, especially at the Ramadan Pork Festival at the biker club.

Oh Great Spirits of Aldebaran! They are handing them to me!

#35 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On May 11, 2018 @ 7:44 pm

Darn, that’s the closest Jefferson Smith and I have come to saying the same thing in a long time!

They’re a persuasive illustration of the argument for a 90% marginal tax rate on the wealthy. These people have way too much damn money.

Hear! Hear!

#36 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On May 11, 2018 @ 7:46 pm

Pshr

…bigotry…

Oh my, is there really a bigot around here? Goodness gracious, where we will end up? I hope that good-looking gentleman over there called the police. In the meantime, my dear Mabel, let’s hide behind this nice primrose shrub, lest the bigot should see us.

(And by the way Islam’s dress codes, as anything else, can be caricatured… I could think a thousand ways one could make fun of the gowns and turbans of an Ayatollah… But it’s just something you don’t do.)

#37 Comment By sara On May 12, 2018 @ 10:35 am

@ Marie says: May 10, 2018 at 1:36 pm

I haven’t been a Catholic in a very long time and don’t have much regard for the Church any more, but even I can see this as the mockery it was intended to be. Were I still Catholic, I’d have been offended by the display.
If, in fact, Church officials approved or went along with this, well, I’m of the opinion that they’re shooting themselves in the foot.

@ grumpy realist says: May 10, 2018 at 6:11 pm

Is this really in worse taste than the balls that used to be held in England during the Terror, “a la victime”, where women would shingle their hair and wear red ribbons around their necks mimicking those who went to the guillotine?
Fashion has always skirted–if not gone over–the edge of bad taste. Don’t blame it on modernity.

My own immediate and visceral response to these costumes was certainly very negative. However, they are, in fact, costumes *based on* sacred things and not sacred things themselves (as wearing actual vestments would be).

The Met Gala always has a theme based on a current costume exhibition. The exhibition this year is titled “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” and is made up of 2 separate exhibitions, one of actual vestments and other items on loan from the Vatican and one of fashion items owned by the Met that were “inspired by” Catholic art and clothing. As such, the intent was not to mock. Whether or not individual attendees or their designers intended to mock is a different question but the theme was set by the Met.

For more actual information, here is the website about the exhibition:

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In addition, the following page lists the themes of the Met Galas going back to 1971.

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I’m not a fan of using religious art & symbols in secular settings and such but it is something that many artists have done for a long time and is understandable as religion is deeply personal and important and emotional, all things that tend to inspire artists in their work. It can be a celebration of religion and expressive of the artists deep faith or it can be the opposite.

#38 Comment By Hound of Ulster On May 12, 2018 @ 4:29 pm

@Siarlys

I will third that motion.

Fun fact: During the Byzantine Empire’s post Hericlius period, it was a common occurance of the Emperors to seize the estates of the provincial magnates and redistribute the lands to the soldier-peasants who made up the backbone of the thematic defense system. Even monasteries were not spared, as the wealthy would frequently abuse the Church’s generosity wrt land grants.

All for national security reasons of course….?