Please Wake Me When It's Over

Monday, April 11, 2005

Please Wake Me When It's Over

In Sunday's New York Times magazine, Colm Toibin continues the John-Paul-a-thon with this syrupy, over-the-top homage:
He turned like an actor turns. He seemed, as the television lights illuminated his face, to be intrigued and then mildly astonished by the size of the crowd.

He seemed ... to have come to us from another world ...
... something that could also be said of Michael Jackson.
... and to be bemused and surprised by the universe he now saw before him. It was Aug. 14, 1991, at the monastery of Jasna Gora, the church of the Black Madonna at Czestochowa, the spiritual capital of Poland. Researching a book on Catholicism in Europe, I had joined a million young people gathered that day to see the pope.

... The ceremony lasted for hours. He did not once lose the full rapt attention of the crowd. He did nothing dramatic, said nothing new ...

There must have been music. But it was the lights that I remember and the sense that he had no script for this, that it was natural and improvised and also highly theatrical and professional.

... It was like watching somebody sleeping ...
Sounds positively mesmerizing.
... I do not know how long it lasted. Maybe 20 minutes; maybe half an hour. He was offering the young who had come here in the infant years of Eastern European democracy not a lesson in doctrine or faith or morals but some mysterious example of what a spiritual life might look like. Somehow he managed to put a sort of majesty into it. Even those among us, like myself, who had no faith anymore and a serious argument with the church had to watch him with awe.
How much longer will we have to hear about their awe?

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