The Unbearable Banishment: an old catholic church in the heart of greenwich village

Thursday, April 9, 2009

an old catholic church in the heart of greenwich village

If I find myself with a spare :20 minutes to kill and a church is nearby, I always duck in for a quick meditation session. I’ll say one thing about people in churches: they know how to keep their mouths shut. The silence is conducive to a peaceful meditation.

Our Lady of Pompeii is just off 6th Avenue in Greenwich Village. It’s an old school Italian church that contains many of the types of icons that drove me out of Catholicism many years ago and into the loving arms of Buddhism. I don’t have the right to call myself Buddhist yet but I may get there someday.

How is Buddha typically depicted?

An overweight, happy man. He wishes well on everyone, regardless of their theological beliefs. There are no sad Buddhas and no condemnation if you don’t follow him!

Christian icons? Lots and lots of pain and suffering. Here we have St. Lucy with this afternoon’s blue plate special: eyeballs of martyr. Does that come with toast?

Here is St. Rocco showing off his fancy open, festering sore on his leg. Yuck!

I'm not sure who this chap is, but someone better tell him that the top of his head is on fire!

He reminds me of Mayor Ralph Perk of Cleveland, whose hair caught on fire during a 1972 ribbon cutting ceremony when he got too close to a welder’s arc.

And here is Christ, dead in his mother’s arms. Just imagine holding your dead child in your arms! Horrible imagery. And remember, he died because you are a sinner. I’ll bet you’re sorry now.

The Christ in this statue has the bluest eyes you’ve ever seen. This pic doesn’t do them justice. They’re sky blue. What are the odds that someone who was living in the Middle East in the year 35 A.D. had Tiffany box blue eyes? Well, you have to play to your audience, I suppose.

And here is Christ carrying the cross in Louis XIV splendor.

Look, I don’t mean to poke fun (well, perhaps just a little) but the relentless negativity—the scenes of torture and mayhem—finally did me in. And they teach this stuff to children! Should a church look like a Halloween haunted house with scenes of gore and violence? Have you seen the Stations of the Cross? It’s not right. Count me out.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

given a choice? i'll dance with Buddah! Or perhaps kill a bottle of Pinot Noir with the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

this one made me laugh...

April 10, 2009 at 12:28 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

How do you know that The Flying Spaghetti Monster doesn't have a hammer and a bucket of nails hidden behind his back?

April 10, 2009 at 7:00 AM  
Blogger Cat said...

I too am a former Catholic and love to be in a Catholic Church when it is not Sunday because of the peace and quite. You don't find that before Sunday morning mass though.

April 10, 2009 at 10:03 AM  
Anonymous Rob said...

My late wife had taken an interest in ceramics not long before she died. She did a couple of buddha's like the one in your pic, although not as ornate (she bought the greenware, cleaned it up, had it baked and did the finish). One of them she did for my mom and it's about that colour.

The other pics of religious statuary are quite ornate with a high level of attention to detail, aren't they?

The fact that religions were invented to control the masses kind of takes away from the splendour.

And that so much energy has been expended building these monstrous monuments over the millenia, quite frankly, boggles my mind.

Humans are, in general, such odd creatures.

Can you tell I was (fortunate to be) raised without a religious influence?

April 10, 2009 at 12:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was just talking to mom today about how she use to make us sit for 4 hours every good Friday with no radio or tv from noon-four.
Remember how all our friends would be over playing and they would all leave at 11:45?
And we were happy to have the day off of school why??

April 10, 2009 at 9:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stations of the Cross once a week during Lent from the time I was seven until I was 14.

Catholicism is probably why I write horror.

April 10, 2009 at 11:05 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Cat: Churches are islands of calm in a hectic Manhattan.

Rob: These statues can be viewed as accomplished pieces of art. And, yes, I agree that religions are mainly about crowd control. I am suspicious of all of them, not just the Catholics.

MT: And on Good Friday, it was always cloudy and rainy from noon until 3:00 because that’s when Christ hung on the cross. Right?

Annie: Well, the good news is that the church inspired you.

April 11, 2009 at 12:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that last image of christ in a dress and sporting crimped hair is priceless

April 11, 2009 at 5:03 AM  
Blogger kyknoord said...

Speaking of "images of torture", that one of poor old Jebus in the dress and is enough to give anyone nightmares.

April 11, 2009 at 11:04 AM  
Blogger Ellie said...

Where to start with the comments? Jesus! (whoops, said unintentionally. heehee). Each photo begs for a comment. I'll try to keep it short.

I like Buddah.
Jesus is a wet blanket.
How the hell did you find the foto of the Cleveland mayor with head on fire?
Was the Mayor of Cleveland Holy?
Is there a naked statue of Louise XIV out there?

April 12, 2009 at 3:13 AM  
Blogger Barlinnie said...

St. Rocco always was a show-off bastart. If you had a broken finger, he had a broken haund..

A church to me is somewhere you go when you wish to look upon fine architecture and taste some history. Nothing more.

I myself live in a converted chapel, complete with a few stained glass windaes, and icons looking down from the corners.

I still sleep soundly in my bed of a neet..

April 12, 2009 at 4:11 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Nurse: I know! Right! The frills are a bit over the top.

K: Yes, why would they dress him up in what seems to be women’s clothing?

Elle: I was a young lad growing up in Cleveland when Mayor Perk set his hair afire. I checked the Cleveland media archives and presto! I also remember the Mayor Perk’s wife turned down a dinner invitation to the White House because it interfered with her bowling night. TRUE STORY.

Jimmy: Where’ve you been? Time for a new post, my friend. Is it true that you live in a converted chapel?! That’s magnificent! What year was the chapel built? Do you know?

April 12, 2009 at 9:57 AM  
Blogger Tess Kincaid said...

"Tiffany box blue eyes". Love it.

Thanks for the explanation of your avatar!

January 26, 2010 at 6:16 PM  

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