The Belles! … The Belles!

How could they have missed it?!!?  All those feng shui masters out there prognosticating for the Year of The Snake, and nary a one —to Lunghu’s knowledge— predicted that Benoit Seize would throw in the towel rather than take the full count of ten.  That’s pretty poor predictive analysis, even by the rather permissive standards of feng shui prophecy, where the goal is usually timing, timing, timing rather than location^3.

It’s certainly true that in the Year of the Dragon, at least one feng shui soothsayer asserted “In 2012 the annual star number 6 is in the central place. Number 6 [represents] the law, government, power, the father figure, especially in the realm of religion. The power of such people will be challenged.”  And it’s certainly true that 2012 saw serious challenges to the authority of Benoit Seize, in the form of “VatiLeaks” and the subsequent trial of papal valet Paolo Gabriele.  But nobody called out Pope Benedict by name or anything quite so specific as actually citing his star chart for signs of trouble ahead.

Still, the omens were there for anyone to see.  After all, is there any greater challenge to the pretensions of patriarchal authority than stark female nudity?  Femen activists don’t think so.

gratuitous partial nudity (part 1)

gratuitous partial nudity (part 1)

That’s why Femen staged one of its trademark “top-down” demonstrations at Piazza San Pietro just one month ago.  In Lunghu’s view —to the extent that it matters— this protest was a strategic masterstroke (pun? maybe) despite its obvious tactical deficiencies.  Femen’s most glaring error was to accuse B16 and the Catholic Church of homophobia.  While the nature of the claim virtually guarantees media coverage of Femen, the charge itself is almost completely non-credible.  Why?  Because legions of scandalous episodes in recent decades  —from Ireland, to Massachusetts, to Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Mexico and beyond— make it amply clear that the Catholic Church has long been homophilic rather than homophobic.  However, this dark truth is the last thing that the Vatican can afford to admit, since its claims to legitimacy and spiritual authority rest squarely on the myth of clerical celibacy and asexuality.

The Catholic Church asserts the right to regulate human sexual behavior (in the guise of “morality”) based on a particular interpretation of dubious ancient texts collectively known as “the Bible.”   Like the referee in a soccer match, legitimacy in this regulatory role is largely derived from a perception of impartiality.  As celibates, Catholic clergy could plausibly claim to “have no skin in the game” – no personal subjective interest in the intimate intercourse of frail and fallible humans.  However, once priests can no longer be distinguished from ordinary mortals on the basis of sexual abstinence, their impartiality becomes suspect and legitimacy becomes forfeit.  All the more so when their sexual partiality is repeatedly revealed to be directly contrary to the publicly-espoused doctrine of the religion, which glorifies (regulated, appropriately sanctified) heterosexual procreation.

In this context, what Femen should be protesting is a) the blatant hypocrisy of Catholic doctrine;  b) persistent misogyny and subjugation of women within the Church;  c) the role of organized religion in propping up the tottering edifice of patriarchal society,  or d) all of the above.  Unfortunately, none of  those issues attract media attention.  Not even in Notre Dame Cathedral.

gratuitous partial nudity (part 2)

gratuitous partial nudity (part 2)

So when the usual Femen suspects stripped off in the nave of Notre Dame to celebrate(?) Pope Benedict’s resignation, you really have to ask for whom those belles actually toll.  The way Lunghu reads the tea leaves, B16’s resignation is an attempt to influence the choice of his own successor with subtle, unseemly, and ultimately despicable politicking behind the scenes. (Obviously, that would have been impossible if he’d made the traditional feet-first exit.)  Whether or not this stratagem will succeed remains to be seen.   Lunghu thinks not.  He has had a prior vision (perhaps divinely inspired, perhaps not) in which the next pontiff will be … the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio.  What odds do the Singapore bookies offer on that action?

totally gratuitous partial nudity (part 3)

totally gratuitous partial nudity (part 3)

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