Thursday, March 26, 2009

Nassau, Bahamas 21.5.93: Stodgy Meals and Clerical Chitchat

Sitting again on the wall outside our room looking down at the bush around the bottom of the monastery’s hill on the southeast.

One of my horrendous nights, when every nerve feels wound to breaking point. A wretched meal of some unidentifiable meat ground to a paste and made into a kind of meatloaf didn’t help. The meat or starch extender was noisomely stale, and there were bone fragments throughout.

Yesterday, lunch at Reggie D.’s, a former student of Steve’s who is now pastor of St. Bede’s church. Curiously, we’ve had neither fish nor conch since we’ve been here—beef one night, lamb the next, mystery meat last night, and chicken at Reggie’s. Curious because surely fish is easier to come by on a small island, and other meats are imported.

Reggie’s cousin, a Msgr. M., also there. A type of officious cleric I dislike. He sat down and took our measure with cold appraising eyes for awhile, but when he discovered Steve is a St. John’s grad, as he is, and that we know his classmate Michael V., he warmed up.

But even then an air of forced gaiety that I so dislike at clerical luncheons. Quotes from Shakespeare. Stories re: a time when he was subdeacon at St. John’s and sang at a liturgy at St. Benedict’s for the 600 nuns. When he sang Dominus vobiscum and they chanted Et cum spiritu tuo, he was (unconsciously) so beguiled by their massive soprano response, that he sang his next lines falsetto, and they twittered. All this acted out with fluttering eyelashes and hands before the mouth, but no giving away of self, no letting down the guard. As befits the vicar general of the diocese, for that’s what he is.

Would non-Euro-American Catholicism have generated these third-world replicas of Euro-American church politicians? Oops, better back up. Would third-world Catholicism have generated these replicas of Euro-American clerics, had they not been trained in the first world? And do I dislike them more because they’re black men and some racist person inside me wants black men to be submissive?

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