Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Almost Royalty

The idea of a religious leader who has God’s ear ended with Moses for us Jews. But for Catholics, the Pope is just that. In fact, he also must have the ear of the DC Government because Massachusetts Avenue and Rock Creek Parkway have been transformed for the visit of Pope Benedict.

As I made my way to my Hebrew class at Temple Micah tonight, I was utterly amazed at what I saw. Along Rock Creek Parkway from Georgetown on and on both sides of Massachusetts Avenue west of the Parkway, the streets are lined with rented barriers. Some company is doing a landslide business in what must be thousands of pieces of metal that have been hooked together for crowd control. I wonder who is paying for all those barriers?

In addition, Massachusetts Avenue was newly paved last week and has now been reduced to two lanes with concrete barriers down the middle of the street for many blocks to allow private access to the Catholic site where the Pope is staying across the street from the National Observatory.

I was most curious to see if the man who is always at the corner of 34th and Mass protesting would be there tonight. He’s originally from Italy and supposedly was abused as a child. At first I thought they had managed to keep him away altogether. But there he was on the other side of the street waving a new colorful sign “Pope Hides Pedophiles.” He was in the company of about a hundred demonstrators who each carried a sign saying “Celibacy Has Failed.” I wondered if the Pope had actually glimpsed those not so happy to see him.

The pomp and circumstance afforded the Pope seems almost like the pageantry that accompanies royalty. There is something rather alluring about a single figure who serves as the focal point for the close to a billion Roman Catholics worldwide. It’s hard to imagine an individual of greater importance.

We Jews are more or less on our own to deal with God, given that no one has been elevated above anyone else. We pray directly to God and not through a mortal here on earth. This lack of a spiritual leader means there will probably never be any traffic diverted in DC for the visit of anyone Jewish.

But meanwhile the Pope’s visit will certainly snarl rush hour traffic for the duration of his visit. And then the rental barriers will be returned and the road will be transformed to 4 lanes once again and traffic will get back to its normal pace.


Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

I think there have been lots of rabbis and teachers that various Jews have felt had God's ear. Personally I feel that way about Rabbi Manewith, but many names come to mind - Rabbi Elieazar and his talmudic buddies, for instance. How about the Hasidic rabbi in Brooklyn who died a few years ago? Can't remember his name, but he enjoyed a huge following.

True, Jews don't have a pope, but we have our heroes, too.

Good luck in traffic!

8:38 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Reya -- It is true there have been many learned rabbis, but Jews would have differing opinions about which ones were important and the branches of Judaism are so different that there could never be a single person revered by all. The absence of confession to another human in Judaism puts all of us on the same level as our rabbis when it comes to talking to God.

I think it's pretty incredible the Catholic Church has remained intact through so many centuries, even weathering the most recent scandal.

8:59 AM  
Blogger Kellyann Brown said...

It's amazing the hoopla at a Pope's visit can cause. When he came to Denver, the whole thing was pretty amazing.

At the wedding I went to recently, a nun performed the ceremony, because it was a civil ceremony and not a a religious one. Pretty amazing, that too!

2:44 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kelly -- I'm amazed that the Church would let a nun perform the sacrament of marriage. That's really progressive if it was officially sanctioned!

4:00 PM  
Blogger mouse (aka kimy) said...

then of course there is shrub (aka w or g.w. bush) who claims that god talks directly into his ear. so I guess all the mistakes over the last 7.5 years of the bush administration have been god's fault.

best to you with the current popeapolloza...am sure washington traffic in has entered new, deeper circles of hell!

4:24 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

My husband drove around for an hour trying to get past the parade route so he could get his allergy shot. He finally gave up and just came home. Maybe tomorrow the Pope will be holding court in another part of the city...

4:27 PM  
Blogger media concepts said...

You mean they wouldn't block the road for William Shatner? Adam Sandler? Steven Speilberg? You're right, prolly not.

12:27 AM  

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