|"Crucifix" at chapel of the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows|
The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows is across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, in Belleville, Illinois. It is monument to sixties faddishness. This is more recent, however. When a visitor walks into the main door, the bookstore is to the left, and a chapel (to some deity) is to the right.
"Welcome to the Bookstore Without Books!"
The bookstore used to sell books. Now it offers very few books (the Bear has more in his bedroom). Perhaps the bookstore's failure is due to the good sense of visitors who refused to buy junk like The Shack and the stuff that Richard Rohr churns out They were among the last books on the shrunken shelf space. (At least there are a handful of classics remaining.)
When the Bear complained (which he usually gets around to doing before leaving any Catholic establishment; call it a Bear tradition) he was informed that Catholics don't buy many books, and they can't compete against Amazon. The Bear believes Catholics would buy good books, and that an intelligently-stocked bookstore at a national shrine in the most Catholic city in the country could survive from browsers.
Back when they sold books, the Bear never left without browsing and buying at least one book. They replaced the books with a coffee bar at which the Bear has never seen a single person drinking coffee. Oh, and hard-to-identify gift items allegedly made by poor persons in the third world.
"Don't Forget to Visit Our Chapel to... uh, Our Chapel!"
Along with this famine for the Catholic mind, one can find the above-pictured eyesore across the entrance hall. The Bear is sorry - or, on second thought, not - that the picture does not do this monstrosity justice. It is tortured and rusted metal crudely welded together with random objects that might have been taken from my father's junk drawer. It is hideous and casts an unwholesome pall over the little room. The Bear could not remain in this chapel longer than it took to take this picture.
It is emblematic of today's Church. Mocking Jesus on the Cross with hideous images has long been a cottage industry among Catholics. (Remember Pope Francis' "Hammer and Sickle-Fix?")
Maybe the "artist" was expressing the ugliness of the sin Christ bore, but in an original way that would shock the bourgeoisie. Hasn't that been the sole goal of untalented artists for a very long time? The destruction of beauty and imposing feelings of revulsion upon the viewer? Cross the river and visit the third floor of the St. Louis Art Museum for further evidence of the anti-art whose appeal is limited to those whose egos must be stroked by "appreciating" "art" that is beyond the understanding of the plebs.
If this is anything, it is a mockery of Christ, or perhaps a portrait of the antichrist. Contrast this to the edifying discussion of icons in the pieces below.
Shame on the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows. The Bear doubts Our Lady is very impressed. But the Bear bets the people who stuck it up are the type who are easily impressed with themselves for doing stupid things like inflicting this horror upon people visiting Our Lady's shrine.
The Bear ate as many of them as he could positively identify with that decision, but, unfortunately, cannot promise he got every one of them.