Monday, April 18, 2005

The College of Cardinals. . . . is really cool.

All those blood red robes. A ritual for almost two millenia. The largest organization in the world choosing a leader in absolute secrecy. There's something really cool about that.

For all the downsides of the medieval aspect of most religions ('King of Kings, Lord of Lords' runs counter to the egalitarian, democratic spirit of the modern world), this *conclave* is straight out of the 14th century -- in a good way. What a word: conclave. This is like watching a solar eclipse. It's just really freaking cool.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I understand your point, but the College of Cardinals is only anachronistic (even in a cool way) if your thinking is somewhat provincial. Wen Jiabao, the current leader of about 1 billion Chinese, was chosen "in absolute secrecy." As was Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985 and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in 1990 (not exactly the Middle Ages). This is not a criticism of Catholic tradition. My point is that what you call the "egalitarian, democratic spirit of the modern world" is really an anomaly of the "Western" world. What makes the College of Cardinals unique is that its political traditions run counter the same Western culture that it underpins. The Catholic conclave would not seem odd to huge numbers of people in the world. In fact, there's a very good chance the EU constitution will be implemented without the consent of the European citizenry. Is the College of Cardinals that much different than the unelected Eurocrats in Brussels? My point is that electing your leaders in timed elections and drafting your laws through elected representatives is the real anomaly and "solar eclipse" in human development. This conclave may be straight out of the 14th century, but it's all too familiar in the current world. - CF

Dan Johnson-Weinberger said...

Cool comment CF. But I thought the EU Constitution is getting ratified by national referenda, one nation at a time. Isn't France voting in a few weeks? And certainly the global trend is towards elected leaders, making democracy less like a solar eclipse and more like a winter day -- more darkness than light, but getting longer every day.

Anonymous said...

democracy [is] less like a solar eclipse and more like a winter day -- more darkness than light, but getting longer every day.


Damn, Dan, is your degree in law or poetry? Nice turn of phrase!

Dan Johnson-Weinberger said...

Thanks, Anon. I think CF's post inspired me.

n. y. krause said...

By the way, Dan, you might perhaps be aware that the College of Cardinals isn't really 2000 years old -- in fact, it's less than 1000 years old. And I think they've only been wearing red since the 1500s or so. Some of the other rituals are newer than that. Still pretty cool, though.

Bill Baar said...

It's also an election where the United State's has the least influence. We're small time players in the Vatican.

Anonymous said...

Dan,

I hear tell this was the shortest conclave in a long time. Maybe they used instant runoff voting.

Herchel

Lazerlou said...

2000 year old cults are cool. I especially like the chanting and pointy hats.