BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
Why is church music so solemn and creepy, so slow and uninspiring?
I'm watching the Cardinals converge in Rome to elect a new pope. These are Catholic Cardinals, not ballplayers from St. Louis They're singing this horribly boring song that has no real melody. It's more of a melodic prayer sung in Latin, a language almost one hundred percent of us don’t understand. The Cardinals are holding books in both hands and reciting prayers led, I suppose, by the Dean of the College of Cardinals.
Each Cardinal lines up and puts their hand on a page in an open Holy Book and recites what's printed on the opposite page. This is an oath they take to a vow of secrecy. What does that mean? That they won't discuss who they're voting for among themselves? Or is it a vow of secrecy to keep the rest of us in the dark?
The spooky music continues. A slow, slinking, murky composition evoking a very solemn procession. Watching all this doesn't inspire me as much as it makes me depressed. Church music is maudlin. It implicates the serious while avoiding the joy. If I were a Cardinal and had to join the procession while this droning dirge continued I'd have to take more pills tonight.
The Cardinal I'm rooting for to make Pope is Timothy Dolan of New York. He impresses to be a very happy and jolly man with a captivating personality. People are comfortable being around him. The other American Cardinal that could be picked is Sean O' Malloy of Boston. It’d be cool if he keeps his beard. He looks like he could have at one time been a member of the Grateful Dead. There hasn't been a bearded Pope since Pope Innocent back in the 1700's.
If I were the Dean of Cardinals I'd order the organ player to pick up the tempo, make the audio atmosphere more like a celebration instead of a wake. It would certainly make this whole process a much more joyous occasion than slow motion monotony that it is.
One of the reasons I didn't like going to church was because the music was so dark and moody. That’s why religion was never my thing. It made me depressed.
Now all the Cardinals are seated and the rest of the people are too told to get out. This is when the Cardinals begin their conclave in private. Two guards in clown outfits stand at attention in front of the doors to the chapel. Now another Cardinal comes up and dramatically closes the doors and that’s it. The Cardinals will remain in there until a Pope is elected.
How do all these Cardinals from all over the planet come to agree on the same guy? Does divine guidance guide them or is it more political than that?
None of us will ever know because none of us will ever see what goes on behind those closed doors.