Of course Dawkins is right, it’s horrifying that the Vatican is offering twitter indulgences. But perhaps the awfulness of it is softened by the ludicrousness (pity there’s isn’t a word ludicrosity, well there is now, the ludicrosity of it ), one might almost say the sauce of bringing a practice which turned into such a rascally scam it caused the Reformation up to date. I have to admit though I’m pleased in a way. I once wrote a series of comic sketches about a Vatican cardinal who does a cooking programme. See below. I thought the sketch didn’t really work because indulgences were a thing of the past. But no! Well it’s never all bad.
Dawkins may be cynical about the Church but he’s nothing like so cynical as me, but I’m a believer and he is not. Nothing tests faith in the Church like the Church itself. I can think of almost no Christian doctrine – profound, beautiful, mysterious, inspiring as they seem to me to be – which has not been rendered at best ludicrous and at worst downright wrong and harmful by the very Church that is supposed to guard and cherish it. But nevertheless, in spite of it all the Church does tell us profound and beautiful things and so it is here. It’s obviously crazy to think that a Catholic will get fast track to heaven because he (oh alright if you must she) got an indulgence on twitter while Dawkins sweats out the full term. My God Dawkins is going to fry (actually I think he’s wonderful, and if I can resort to the infantile religious language which, I regret to say, Dawkins still speaks although in reverse, I’m sure God does too). The Christian truth behind all this is that we are saved through each other and our love and concern for each other. I’m staggered by Dawkins’ quite unsubstansiated claim in The God Delusion that the lovely civilized behaviour of modern western liberals is based on models of evolutionary selfishness, sophisticated though they might be. . According To Dawkins (I wonder if he’d mind if I called him Richard he’s beginning to feel like an old friend) only we can escape from the tyranny of the selfish replicators. But since we were created by the selfish replicators in the first place in order to make survival machines for themselves, how does this come about? How come we made the great escape? I can’t find any clue in Dawkins’ works. Daniel Dennett had a really interesting shot at resolving the dilemma in Freedom Evolves but I’m not very impressed by that either. I think Christianity does give us a credible answer. Absurd, ludicrous and distorted the Church may have made its own doctrines but in essence it’s got it right. We are saved by our love for each other.
Monsignor Macaroni 1. (first of four)
Monsignor Macaroni: Hello. Buongiorno. Who is this man you are saying? I am Monsignor Macaroni and tonight I am going to introduce you to cucina vaticana. You know the famous osso bucco of Lombardy? The gnocchi al pesto from Liguria? The spaghetti ai totani from Capri? But you do not yet know the Vatican cooking? Ooooh! What feasts await you in this book “One Hundred Tasty Recipes From the Vatican” with Introduction from the Popa himself. Plus plenary indulgence for any Catholic buying two copies. You wish to over-indulge yourself and avoid going to hell eh? Buy “One Hundred Tasty Recipes From the Vatican”. Oh I so lova the TV cooks. They are so inspiratione! Oh Madre Delia! I say to the Popa the other day Holy Father, can we not canonize Madre Delia.? Santa Madre Delia, ora pro nobis. But he not even interested in shoes like the last one. Monsignor Macaroni, I sk myself, what will you cook for the viewers? Cheese pie with flaky pastry? Tosta di ricotta? Oh cara mama mia’s pastry! Oh the crust so buttery. You lift it quivering on the fork. Oooh ecstasy as it dissolves like air in the mouth. Mama mia always say: Guiseppe, marry a woman who maka heavenly pastry. Just like mama mia did. But you see! I have married God instead! Or mushrooms cook-ed in cream? Funghi cultivata alla crema? Oooh the sizzling glaucous flesh! Let them weep weep their precious meaty juices slowly into the pan. Oh porcini majestica! Some time I cook you the porcini, eh? Oo-oooo-oogh! But not tonight. And not next week. Next week I cooka for you something really speciale. See you next week. Meantime don’t be greedy eh? See you next week. Ciao