Religion, Faith and Sprituality

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Trump and the Pope: Both Talk About Justice for Women, But---

So the pope and the man who is, for the moment, the president, met. There's been no lack of post-meet analysis and color commentary, but O, the desire to pile on!

The supreme pontiff has already spoken plainly about Trump. Trump may be a man made in God's image, and the pope may say he doesn't judge anyone, but the pope, who studied Engineering and has a good understanding of Scientific method, has very strong feelings about climate change and the moral obligation humanity has to care for the earth. 

Pope Francis views greed as a sin. Trump is greed incarnate. 

The pope views marriage as sacred. Trump is a sexual predator. Trump seduces married women, admits to grabbing women's genitals without their consent, cheats on his wives, and has been credibly accused of being a sexual assailant. 

Trump sees the poor as losers. The pontiff sees them as children of God and the messages of Hillel, Jesus and the Beatitudes inform his to his view of them. Pope Francis views caring for the poor as a moral imperative. Trump thinks the poor are losers. 

The pontiff appears to be have a truly robust commitment to humility---to what Christians and Buddhists sometimes think of as the spiritually beneficial pouring out of "self." Donald Trump has publically informed that he, like Pope Francis I, is humble. The pope is actually humble. 

Although I tend to object to fat-shaming and view a bit of meat on bones (or voluptas as I used to think of it back when I was a young painter) I was grateful for the pontiffs choice to forcefully imply, before the world, that Trump is a fatty. 

Who knows whether the Supreme Pontiff had a chance to read the New York Magazine piece via which the world learned that at Trumps dinner parties the host receives two scoops of ice cream on his chocolate cream pie while his guests are treated to only one. It is unlikely that Pope Francis cares what kind of physical condition Trump or any human being is in---or how much ice cream anyone has at parties. 

But the pontiff does care about people who are starving, and he knows that Trump is enacting policy that will rob the poor to give to the rich. 

The pope gave Trump a copy of Laudato Si as a gift. Think: nesting dolls of irony. On one hand Trump must know that a signed Papal encyclical will fetch a nice price one day.  On the other, although the English translation is short, straightforward and interesting enough, Trump does not read well enough to get through it. 

If Trump were to enlist help in reading it, he would come away disappointed and possibly enraged.  Laudato Si is, in great part, an argument for adopting radical awareness of the sins to which greed and unconscionable capitalism have led. It's also a book that affirms the perils of climate change. 

Laudato Si is an indictment of all Trump is and for which he stands. If Trump were literate, this gift would have been a colossal insult. Funny/not funny. 

And thats not all the Pope did that might be construed as impolite. He gave the Trump ladies Rosary beads. Presenting a Jewish woman married to an Orthodox Jew with Rosary beads would probably be an insult to any Jew with deep religious feeling. On second thought, they don't care. 

Money is the great God of the Kushners. Not the G-d of many names. Jerusalem and theVatican were backdrops. Think: Kardashians, making memories. 

And what about the head coverings?

As the wife of an Orthodox Jew, Ivanka should be wearing a blonde wig over her bleached hair any time she leaves the house! so I always find it a bit amusing to see this Jewish mama swinging her Keratin and peroxide treated hair all over the world. 

Trump criticized the Michelle Obama for not covering her head. Obama declined because she is a highly intelligent, principled bad-ass thinker who probably respects the religion of Islam and women who elect to cover their heads, but Obama is an actual feminist who has some ideas of her own on the subject of subjugation of women. 

Ivanka and Melanie stand accused of being idiotic Barbie dolls. For them following the lead of Michelle Obama was a way of projecting the "We're feminists" optics. 

Why then did they not carry this feminist message to La Citta Vaticana? 

The reason the Trump women (and Michelle Obama for that matter) wore the Morticia Adams swag to their papal audience is that the Vatican is very strict about what women wear at the Vatican. The Vatican would have objected strenuously, and might not have permitted the women to even enter the pope's quarters.  

Sidebar: I was lucky enough to spend a week and a half in Rome with my eldest daughter, Maria, about six years ago. We spent two full days (of our ultra, extra churches and museum tour) in the Vatican. June in Rome is infernal. We dressed appropriatelyskirts, tank tops---but carried lots of light wraps and  shawls in our bags. 

Maria was 16, stunningly beautiful. With a biting wit. Shed stop at the entrance, glare at the twenty-something Vatican employees whose jobs it was to look the pretty ragazzi up and down to make sure they were covered enough. These diligent men were charged with making sure no bare cleavage, shoulders or thighs made it into the Apostolic Palace. 

“Oh, wait," Maria would say loud enough to be heard, as she wrapped shawls around her waist shoulders and neck. "Let me put on my dignity!” 

For women and girls who didn’t travel with seven veils in their backpacks, the guards had translucent sheets of plastic that females could wrap about their legs arms, bodices and shoulders. These looked liked something the Tom Cruise character would buy in that sex shop scene in the Kubrick film “Eyes Wide Shut.” 

Maria and I joked about how “pervy” it was to see the dignity guards supervising the plastic shrink-wrapping of college girls seeking to gain entrance the Vatican museums so as to view---walls and ceilings full of NUDES!


The Trump women wore black veils because it's the rule. The Vatican is very good about women in their places. This is one of the few things the Pope and Donald Trump have in common. 

Both speak about justice for women. One is a misogynist predator, but both fall short. Talk is cheap.


Follow Michele Somerville at @nypoet on Twitter. 

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