When Yves Saint Laurent took up the reins of Dior from Dior, management was concerned. After all, YSL was only in his early twenties. Can you blame them? At first, everything was OK.
Trapeze to Trouble
The black dress and the floral print dress on the left were parts of Saint Laurent’s first collection on his own, called Trapeze. The exhibition guide talks about “trapezoidal” silhouettes and the “free spirit of the Sixties”, even though it was only 1958. It was a success, but but the success was short lived. In 1960 Saint Laurent called his collection “Beatnik.” Talk about the Sixties, leather jackets with mink trim! One short velvet evening dress featured bobble fringe trim. Gorgeous had almost left the building, but I think this black number with the swag of pearls might be worth its weight in silk crepe.
Yves was ushered out the door, but one wonders if the success of his own fashion house made the management of Dior regret running him off. When Yves left, they promoted Marc Bohan out of the London branch. His classical training returned the house and its clientele back to the safety of traditional haute couture without resorting to boredom. He borrowed from Russian tzars and the traditional Chinese cheongsam, keeping everyone happy for close to thirty years. Some of it is a little too Eighties for me, but I’d wear others.
Haute couture was being replaced by ready-to-wear around the world. Many of the French fashion houses had disappeared and others sold out to mass marketing. Dior remained. Enter an Italian, Gianfranco Ferre’. After Bohan’s freewheeling style references, structured suits and wafting evening gowns, Ferre’ took the house back to classicism. The exhibition guide gives him credit for everything from Baroque architecture to Impressionists, even Cubists and Surrealism.
To my untrained eye, he seemed to embody both the best of Dior himself and his successor, Saint Laurent. The simple column of the empire-waisted dress a la Josephine, which was named Palladio, spoke to me, but I think my bestie liked Glory, the black velvet number encrusted in gold, even better.
One thing I noticed about the Ferre’ dresses is that a goodly number of them had a lot of stuff on them. Like the stripped gown on the front row. I loved most of it, but then the bodice looked like someone’s granddaughter had come to work one day and glued a little of everything onto it. Same thing with the polka dot dress in the back. Just too much stuff.
And speaking of too much. How about that gray suit with puff sleeves and the really big bow. Sure, it’s too much but I love it anyway. I would hang it in my closet next to Dior’s houndstooth suit with the more conservative black bow.
Mr. Ferre’s designs finish out the first gallery of Creative Directors. Come back next week and we’ll look at three of the later directors. Meanwhile, enjoy the fashions.
To say Bill’s choice won would not be exactly correct. We talked though all the options and in the end, it made the most sense. It wouldn’t have been my first choice, but looking at the ship and the itinerary, I certainly didn’t lose. And there had been no arguments. Not even differences of opinion, just a realization that given our options, Celebrity’s Edge was the choice for us.
Horses Before Carts
When we decided to cruise on The Edge, the ship didn’t even exist. Oh, they were in the process of building it, but we were taking a leap of faith. On Saturday, March 24, 2018 I sent an email to my travel agent, Sandra Rubio of CTC travel that we’d chosen The Edge’s June 15, 2019 cruise, out of Rome. The ship would have her maiden voyage in December 2018. I thought the next step would be the red tape involved with setting up an official “group” with Celebrity. That meant a selection of rooms would be set aside for us and I’d have some time to recruit people to fill up the rooms. It might even mean that we’d get a free room ourselves, but even if we didn’t there were a lot of other perks with being a group.
Only that’s not what happened. Someone at Celebrity made an executive decision. There would be no “groups” on The Edge – at least not during our cruise. So, no free room for us or room discounts for our fellow travelers or any of the other perks that come with having a group would ever be ours. It was just a case of, “We’re going, do you want to join us.” I wasn’t surprised. I wouldn’t know what to do if things ever just went my way.
Then I got an email from Jim Bagley. Jim is the husband of my friend Melanie. She was my roommate at SFA and we’ve stayed close friends all these years. Oh, we’re not the talk-to-you-every-day type of close friends. I don’t have any of those, because I’m not that sort of person. Even my bestie and I go days without so much as a text. With Melanie, there have been years where our only correspondence has been Christmas cards. However, get us together and you’d think we’d been connected at the hip since birth. Jim and Melanie had booked their cabin.
I have to admit. Bill and I were still wringing our hands over the loss of our group. Was Celebrity still the best choice? Would the Viking cruise be a better deal for us? Jim’s email defined our dilemma and tightened our focus. Were we going on The Edge or not? We took another look at The Edge brochure and called Sandra to book our own cabin. We were going on a cruise for our 25th wedding anniversary.
That Was Then, This Is Now
I promise to share every single detail along the way with you. If you’ve been following this blog for long, you know I won’t be able to resist it. However, today I’m in Monte Carlo. Yesterday, was our Vow Renewal Ceremony. This morning we’ll be able to take it slow. It’s a long day at this port of call, but we plan to sleep late and enjoy a sit-down breakfast. Perhaps we’ll lounge by the pool or stroll around onshore. At 4 PM we’re joining the CEO of Celebrity Cruises for a Wine Tasting at the Monte Carlo Yacht Club. (Yeah, I know. I’m still pinching myself.) Then we’ll take a special after-hours tour of the Prince’s Palace. After the tour, some brave souls will be dining with her up on the Magic Carpet, but alas, I can’t imagine enjoying an open air dinner up in the air. I can’t even endure a wimpy zipline at a Texas roadside attraction.
Next week, I’ll be back home. I’ll pick up this tale up with the giddy moment we got our cabin confirmation and share a few of the disasters we’ve suffered on our way to The Anniversary Cruise. Please join me. We’re gonna have fun!
Now that we’ve browsed through the entire Dior exhibit together, let’s go back and take a closer look at some of what is called fashion. I say that because to me, clothes should be designed to wear. They should look good and make me look good when I wear them. I can’t say that all the fashions in this exhibit would compliment the wearer.
Fashion and the Decorative Arts
I’ve said it before, the Decorative Arts are my favorite part of any museum. Paintings and sculpture are nice, but what I love most are practical items made sublime by their decoration. A Meissen vase can completely captivate me. My favorite museum ever was the Silver Collection at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna. Such a bland name for such an extraordinary place.
Many dresses in the Dior exhibition are certainly sublime. Would that my closet had such delights! Take the black and white number with the coolie-style straw hat above. Anybody with about an ounce of clothes sense would tell you it’s not in vogue. Fully pleated wool skirts and jackets with peplums are just not the thing. I don’t care. I’d wear that anytime. Not to a baseball game, of course, but give me an excuse to dress up and I’d put that number on. And in vogue or not, ooohs and aaahs would follow me wherever I went. The black taffeta, off-the-shoulder number next to it is pretty wonderful also.
However, I didn’t feel that way about everything I saw. As time marched on the dresses were less decorative and more arty. The show is partly chronological, but then it explodes into a kaleidoscope of eras. Dresses designed to grace the form of post-WWII damselles stand next to fashions better suiting an ancient Egyptian priestess or a Zulu warrior princess. Some of the outfits didn’t look like they would grace anyone or anything. When I put on an outfit, I don’t want people to say, “My, that’s an interesting outfit.” I want them to say, “Wow, you look great!”
To see the most egregious examples of these interesting outfits, you’ll have to go to the exhibition yourself. The photos I’m using in these posts were taken by Bill during my first visit. He’s as drawn to gorgeous as I am, so he didn’t waste his focus on interesting, much. During my second visit I was so busy trying to match the various dresses to their description in the exhibition guide that I failed to get a single picture.
In the chronological part of the show, the focus is on the various directors of the House of Dior. First, of course was Christian Dior, himself. The suit on the far right with the big black bow? I want it so bad I can taste it. It’s name is Adventure.
I didn’t love everything he did as well as that one piece, but it’s probably safe to say I love everything he designed better than anything anyone else did. For instance, the black double breasted belted jacket next to MY ensemble is entirely too bulky for my frame. I’d look like someone’s living room drapes which have decided to take a walk.
Bill only took one more picture in this section of the exhibit, a lovely gala gown from 1950 called Oceanie with an ‘ over the e. The amaranth red tulle dress is embroidered with sequins and beads, so I have no idea what that has to do with the ocean.
In fact, many of the names assigned to the ensembles had little to do with the ensemble it is assigned to. Some of the directors labeled everything as a “Look” and assigned it a number. I found that as disappointing as a red dress with a blue name.
There’s more to the exhibit, of course, but let’s put Mr. Saint Laurent off until next week.
I have a very pleasant difficulty. I’ve had so many wonderful vacations that “the trip of a lifetime” barely has any meaning for me. Each has been a “trip of a lifetime” in one way or another. It began with my mom. That lady knew how to plan a vacation. I will never forget the American Heritage tour we took that included Washington D.C., Monticello, Mount Vernon, Williamsburg and Lincoln landmarks. Before I met Bill I had a remarkable trip to England, a visit to Paris and a wonderful tour of Bavaria. Since Bill came along we have had one memorable trip after another, both in the United States and abroad. Hawaii? Yes! Caribbean? Yes! Europe? Yes! I never thought I’d see the Pyramids and now I have been twice. So what were we supposed to do to mark a special milestone?
An Anniversary Cruise?
Letting go of the backyard vow renewal ceremony, surrounded by friends and family and solemnized by my pastor, was tough, but it wasn’t just my anniversary, it was Bill’s too. So I started recreating my vision. Exchanging the Phoenician for a Back East ramble and my two decade diamond for a pond-side home had both been good decisions. Third time is the charm, right?
Bill and I daydreamed about the possibilities on our patio as summer became fall. We’d always wanted to cruise the Mediterranean, but the cost had always scared us away. We began to understand this splurge was the perfect choice for our Anniversary Cruise, but the Mediterranean is a big place. What ports of call, what cruise line and which ship would we chose. We had time, but it was a big decision.
As the year rolled to an end, I realized my favorite travel agency would be having their annual travel show in January. Since one of the important things about this cruise would be the people who went with us, I spent several days sending out emails to all my friends and family explaining what we were planning, hoping they’d join us on the adventure. Unfortunately, we were in no position to treat our friends and family to this cruise, so not only would they have to find the time to join us, they’d also need to find the funds. Our responses ranged from, “Gee, we appreciate you thinking of us, but no,” to “Try and stop me from coming.” In the middle were a whole lot of maybes. There were also many, many unanswered emails. Welcome to the Third Millennial!
Days of Discovery
On a bright January day, bestie, hubby and I took in CTC’s annual travel show. I got several bags full of dreams, but my husband only saw one ship. I did my due diligence, unaware that Bill had already decided what we were going to do. At that point, he didn’t realize it either.
I was torn between two choices. I’d always dreamed of enjoying the luxury of an all suite ship, but since our Danube Waltz adventure on the Viking Tor, I’d been craving one of their ocean cruises. Bill suggested I take a look at the new ship Celebrity was building, the Edge, and he was also interested in a Sailing Yacht Cruise. I spent a long afternoon in Sandra Rubio’s office as she explored the various choices we were considering. Then I spent days comparing the prices of the various cruises with the experiences we’d enjoy.
A few things were clear. Te price of the all-suite luxury cruises would prohibit most of the other people from joining us. The Sailing Yachts would offer us an amazing ceremony, but the ship we were most interested in would be getting an overhaul in 2019. Taking the Viking cruise would mean no possibility of my grandnieces and nephews joining us. The Edge was interesting and would accommodate the kids, but it was at the bottom of my list.
I’ve already let the cat out of the bag, Bill’s choice won the day – but did he choose the Yacht experience or the Edge? Come back next week! I’ll spill the beans!
Just when I thought Dior From Paris to the World was the best fashion exhibit the DMA had ever had, I found out it wasn’t even over yet. Certainly the gallery with all the celebrity gowns had to be the climax and end of the exhibit, but no, there was more gorgeous to enjoy! Come along and I’ll share the rest of the goodies.
Pretty in Pink
My bestie teases me about my OCD tendencies when we are visiting exhibitions, bazaars and galleries. I’m very systematic about it, because I don’t want to miss anything. As alluring as this confection of evening wear will be as you exit the big central gallery with the celebrity dresses, I recommend detouring to the left as soon as you enter this gallery. Two treats wait for you there. One is called “Lengendary Photographs” and for my husband the photographer, it was one of his favorite parts of the entire exhibit. For me, it was the area called “Total Looks” that deserved all the attention.
Pictures are not allowed in this gallery, so you will have to use your imagination, but there is a semicircle of vignettes displayed. Each vignette is based on a color and is decked out with everything imaginable in that color. You could easily lose yourself for an hour trying to comprehend the items in each vignette. There is no one season or look that is focused on, so the timeless nature of Dior’s designs and their versatility is well-demonstrated. Perfume bottle is juxtaposed with a pillbox hat sporting an outrageous hat pin. Shoes, jewelry, handbags, dresses, capes – literally, you name it, is served up in delicious coordinating hues. It’s truly mind-boggling!
Eventually you will have to shake off your obsession with “Total Looks” and see the next gallery. There’s a section here called “Dallas and Beyond” which highlights memorabilia from Dior’s visits to Dallas and elsewhere. If you have room in your brain to take in more, then this is a good place to soak up some more information about the designer himself. I confess, I’ve merely glazed over it so far. I hope to go back soon and have another stab at details like this. All the galleries have displays full of idea books, videos of fashion shows, swatches of material and other items I really want to know more about, but the brain can only absorb so much at any one time.
Finally, with a guilt-free conscious you can gaze on “Splendors of the 18th Century.” According to the Exhibition Guide, Christian Dior wanted to bring flamboyance back to Paris after the dark days of World War II. His fashion house was decked out in all the glory of Versailles and the pink confection at the beginning of this post is the DMA’s attempt to capture that. It was also a chance to show off one of the DMA’s most gorgeous paintings – The Abduction of Europa by Jean Baptiste Marie Pierre.
The Final Morsel
You’re almost through, as if anyone actually wanted to be. Beside the “Splendors” display is the entry to “Field of Flowers.” This gallery is devoted to all looks floral – a floral dress for every occasion. Samples from all eras of the fashion house are displayed together. Some you will love. Others you will wonder why they bothered. I was particularly impressed with some of the handiwork. When you realized that every bead and ruffle is applied by hand, some of the dresses will blow you away.
I’m planning to revisit the exhibit as often as I can between now and September 1st. So far, hunger is what eventually dragged me out of the exhibit. Maybe next time I’ll eat BEFORE I go, rather than take a turn at the exhibit first. In fact, if you’re panning your visit, eat first. You’ll need your nourishment.
It’s taken three posts just to get you from the entry to the final gallery. To exit you’ll have to make another dash through the fashion show themed hall ways. Then you’ll find yourself on the other side of the small entry area with its red lights and samples of Dior’s Revolutionary new look. If you come back next week, we’ll talk about some of my favorite and not so favorite pieces in the exhibit.
A few years back a friend of mine was getting married and finding a venue stumped her. I suggested she use my backyard. She never really took my suggestion seriously, but I began to see how my favorite view would be the perfect spot for a celebration. Her wedding came and went, but I was never able to eradicate the idea of a celebration in my backyard. I began to float an idea with my husband – what if we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with a vow renewal ceremony by our pond?
Anniversaries We Have and Yet, Have Not, Celebrated
Our wedding anniversary is a special day to us. Bill doesn’t get very excited about Christmas, birthdays or Valentines, but our anniversary is something he likes to mark. In our early years, we used to say we were going to spend our 10th wedding anniversary at the Phoenician in Arizona. We’d visited the resort on some previous trips to the area and we loved fantasizing about splurging on a special celebration there, but it never happened.
For our 20th Anniversary I started making noise about replacing the diamond in my engagement ring. Bill had surprised me with his proposal – like really surprised me. He’d never so much as asked me my favorite shape of diamond! At the time, he’d said the ring was just a placeholder and I could pick out what I wanted, but what I wanted was what he picked out for me. After twenty years, though, I thought I might be due an upgrade – such as a carat for each decade.
To Bill’s credit, he took me shopping and he was willing to spend the obscene amount of money necessary to put a two carat rock into my wedding set. Only my practical little soul could not countenance it. I got my ring polished and we built our home on the pond instead. Of course, the house cost a whole lot more than the new diamond would have, but look at what we got. Our 20th wedding present was ourselves was the architectural plans for Falcons View Pass. We moved in not long before our 21st.
Looking to Twenty-Five
Though we always mark our anniversary in a special way, we don’t always do it on the special day. Take the Danube Waltz in 2016. It marked Anniversary 22, but it was about a month early. Oregon marked number 18, but it several weeks later. For number 23, we went to Egypt, but about a month before. That’s when I started thinking about number 25.
Floating an idea with Bill is a bit of a challenge. He’s always listens to me, but that doesn’t always mean he hears me. I’d venture to say I’d been talking about a backyard vow renewal for six months before he figured out I was seriously considering it. I had the whole thing sketched out in my mind. When he finally asked me to explain it to him in full, I was on the edge of tears. Only my vision didn’t resonate with him.
“How about a cruise,” he suggested. Well, we love cruising and we’ve been on several, but the fact we’d already been on several was what caused my hesitation. I wanted something very special to mark this milestone. What’s more, I didn’t want to mark it alone. Part of what had propelled my vision of the backyard ceremony had been the loss of so many of my loved ones. So many of the important people who had celebrated our wedding were no longer here to testify to our commitment. Some people who loomed large in the video of the day are either no longer a part of our lives at all or they have moved to the peripheral edges of our existence. What’s more, there are those who are very, very special now, that I didn’t even know back then.
What did we decide to do? Come back next week and find out.
On Saturday the 18th, Dior: From Dallas to the World had not even opened to the public yet and I was back for my second helping. It’s just that delicious. You don’t even have to like fashion or art to appreciate this exhibition. What do you like? Architecture, marketing, celebrity sightings, engineering, manufacturing? Think I’m kidding? Come take a look!
Thrilled Clear Down to My Socks
Modern art is all fine and good for those of you who like it, but I was just about fed up with the overabundance of it at my museum. Modern, pop, contemporary, avant garde and everything in between had become a steady diet at the DMA. That’s OK, with the dawning of 2019, I take it all back. I love the DMA again!
With this latest exhibition, I’ll be running down there every time I can dream up a reason to go – so Dallas friends, please call me and let’s make a date! If you go with me, I can get you in for free. Last week I told you about the great party the DMA threw to celebrate the opening of the exhibition. Today let’s talk about the “over 100 haute couture dresses, as well as accessories , photographs, original sketches, runway videos, and other archival material,” promised in my invitation to the Opening Celebration.
All That and More
On my second visit, the weather promised rain, but that wasn’t scaring away the excited crowd which waited outside the DMA. We arrived a few moments before opening and I was surprised to see so many people. I hadn’t thought of ordering my free tickets to see Dior on that particular day, because it was still members only, but I should have. At 11, the earliest we could get in was noon.
After a detour through the Berthe Morisot exhibition to kill an hour (unfortunately that exhibition ended on the 26th, for those of you who missed it) we took our tickets to the line for Dior. The first peek at the dresses took my breath away, both times I saw it – and I have a sneaky suspicion it will continue to delight. You thread your way into a relatively small hallway and on both sides of you, double-decked at eye level and above, are mannequins in gorgeous black Dior dresses against a red-lighted stage.
While no one explained the intent of the exhibition’s design, to me, the exhibition space seems reminiscent of the temporary nature of a tent set up for a fashion show – especially the behind the scenes part, where the designers and models would be scurrying about. Scaffolding can be seen through the white plastic walls and seemingly hand drawn arrows point the way to go.
Once you’ve navigated the arrows in the hallways, you’ll find an area devoted to the nuts and bolts of the design business. Twenty toiles, muslin mock-ups of drawings created by the designers, fill a wall. Most of them I would be happy to wear, as is, but a few do reveal the temporary nature of the garment. On the parallel wall, videos show the actual process of packaging perfumes, building hand bags and other wonders of manufacturing these dreams for sale. Display cases show swatches of hand-beaded cloth, sketches with fabrics attached and other bits associated with the process of designing haute couture.
Though other galleries have more eye-popping displays, the gallery to the left of the toiles has my favorite dresses. The houndstooth number with the big bow would be the one I would want to take home with me. It’s called Adventure and was from the 1948 Envol line, but the look is timeless. In the same area are dresses designed by directors Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan and Gianfranco Ferre.
To the right of the toiles is a gallery devoted to later directors, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri. I can easily say their designs are stunning, but they depart from the gorgeous craft of Dior himself and wander into that fashion world where models wear dresses I can’t imagine seeing walk down the street.
You must follow a few more arrows to see the grandest gallery in the exhibition, calledFrom Paris to the World. It shows dresses, on two tiers on both sides of the room, which have been influenced by various places around the world. Saris, kimonos and other costume-like gowns will awe and amaze you. Some I loved. Others just made me giggle. The photo at the beginning of this post, of the dresses in arched compartments, is where those who love celebrity watching will gather. These dresses were worn by Lady Gaga, Josephine Baker and Marilyn Monroe, to name a few.
You’re not through with the exhibition yet, but I have run out of words for today. There are still treats to enjoy. Come back next week and I’ll take you on a quick stroll through the rest of the exhibit. Then the following week, I’ll go back to the beginning and share more details of the exhibit.
Looking back on Mayan society, we might be quick to blame priests or kings, perhaps even warriors or ambassadors. Study history and you will know their sins are legion, but we allow the same sort of characters to control us today, as surely as the Mayans were controlled then.
Parallels I See
Mayans bound the foreheads of infants to achieve a fashionable look and we may wonder why anyone would do that, but don’t we rush out to rearrange anything on our bodies we don’t like? We may not file our teeth and set jewels in them, but we will pierce the skin under our lip and keep expanding the hole until those around us can see our gum line. We are perhaps even more greatly ruled by fashion than the Mayans.
Here in the United States we argue about our government, yet we allow the same politicians with their same solutions to dominate our legislating bodies year after year, forcing more and more regulations down our throat. Some of these bureaucrats are hired and appointed by our government, but too many are re-elected and re-elected long after they’ve proven how they fail to keep any promise that they make.
I’m guessing the average Mayan on the street wasn’t so different from me. My sacrificial pyramid is delivered to my house daily on my TV and computer screen and in case that’s not enough, I carry a phone, so I can check in on the mounting atrocities at any time. I listen to what the media tells me, just like the Mayans listened to their priests and royalty. I hate so much of what I see around me and yet, I feel so powerless to do anything about it.
The Mayans didn’t wake up one morning and say, “Hey, let’s have a society where the rich get richer, the powerful get more powerful and the rest of the population is ground under foot like ashes. And let’s create a religion where thousands upon thousands are murdered in gruesome ceremonies and we can pretend it makes the sun come back.” Their situation grew out of a series of circumstances. At some point, the tide could have been turned, but they let the opportunity slip away. Their great intellectual capacity and their amazing creativity could have been the foundation of a beautiful utopia, but instead it created a sort of hell.
I pray fervently that we Americans are not making the same sort of mistakes. I hope it is not too late to gain some control over our “priests and royalty.” I hope our religion of self-gratification does not one day demand the egregious sacrifice of our fellow citizens.
Forgive me my doom-saying. Travel is fun and filled with exposure to beautiful things. That’s what I usually focus on. But travel should also expose us to things that make us look at our own lives and think about the way the world is going around us. We should question whether we are doing the right things and promoting the right ideas.
Chichen Itza made me stop and think about my world. I promise to get back to the fun and the beautiful, but I will always try to see something more when I travel than mere entertainment. One more post about Chichen Itza and I am done.
Our return to Dallas was blissfully uneventful. I’ll spare you the details. I entertained myself with Michener’s Mexico, but as I read, another part of my brain was sorting out what I’d observed on this short vacation. My initial impressions required a lot of thought and my arrival in Dallas did not end my meditations.
Capturing My Travel Thoughts
I’ll start with the relationship between Mexicans and Spaniards. I’m actually amazed at how good their current relations are considering the history of the natives and the invaders. Spanish architecture is appreciated just as much as the ancient native sites. There doesn’t seem to be a resentment between the Mexicans and their Spanish heritage. Spain’s Catholicism has been embraced and there doesn’t seem to be any factions hoping to reignite the worship of gods who demand human sacrifice, which were the Mayans gods.
Granted the Mexicans overthrew Spanish rule during an ugly period that lasted more than a decade, but they got over it. They didn’t reject Christianity along with the rulers they ousted or tear down Spanish cathedrals. Though I am sure there was a lot of burning and looting during the war, since its been over, they seem to have developed a great working relationship. The Mexicans I have observed seem just as proud of the beauties of Spanish colonial architecture as they are of their own pyramids. Even when I visited Mexico back in the Seventies and Eighties, this seemed to be so. Most specifically, there is not the tension over monuments and flags we Americans seem to harbor in relation to our own Civil War and slavery.
I Wouldn’t Be Quite as Nice
Personally, as a Christian, I resent the Spanish for the brand of Christianity they forced down the throats of the Mexican Indians. They made most of them slaves and threatened to kill them if they didn’t convert. Not that the Europeans did a much better job anywhere else, but the Spanish Conquest of Mexico seems particularly repugnant, in both their hunger for gold and their forcible spread of Catholicism.
My guide on the Chichen Itza excursion pointed out something I’d never quite noticed before. He showed us a church decorated with serpents. According to the guide, killing those who were unwilling to convert did not seem to be all that effective with some groups of natives. So, instead the friars invited the natives to come to the Catholic Church to worship their own snake god. Though this is more humane than murder, it’s still a trick and I didn’t like to hear of it.
The Question of Christianity
Had I not mulled over the question of religion for several days, this post might have turned into a rant against the Roman Catholic Church. They’ve done a lot of things wrong from the inception of formalized religion, but in truth, little about Christianity is attractive to many outsiders today. In some places, like Central Asia for example, people are turning to Christianity in droves. They are hungry for the hope it offers, but the concept of hope is alien to Americans who see Christianity the enemy. They pull verses out of the context of the rest of the Bible and try to hold them up as messages of contempt. I fear these people miss the point.
Christianity fails any time it gains an official capacity in government. It’s one thing to have a Christian king or president, quite another to have that leader promote his faith with his power. Lead as a servant, sure. Wield your power to grow your religion – NO! Christians have made a lot of mistakes in America. They have judged others based on a faulty understanding of what they think God wants. They also took advantage of their majority and wrote laws favorable to themselves. Now we are paying the price for that power.
During the Byzantine era, the Roman government encouraged its citizens to be Christians. The emperor was Christian and he promoted Christianity in many ways, including paying bishops. Many of the subjects of the emperor joined the church, not because they embraced Christianity, but because they wanted access to their ruler. Others joined the clergy, not out of piety, but because it was a steady paycheck. The Church may have prospered under these circumstances, but true Christianity has not. The intentions may have been good, but the results were not.
Conversions which are coerced or forced in any manner are just wrong, period. A conversion to Christianity should be about faith, relationship and hope. I do blame the Roman Catholic Church for much of the antipathy felt towards Christians. It would take me thousands of words to discuss the atrocities of history, the distractions of Mariology and the veneration of saints, indulgences, Apolstolic Succession, the inerrancy of the pope, the practice of confession and absolution, transubstantiation, and so many other Catholic traditions which make me crazy. However, all Christians are human first and we all screw up really badly. Unfortunately, people judge God based on us, rather than judging us by God’s standards – and we all fall short of those.
As I stood in the plaza of Chichen Itza and considered the awful human sacrifices which were made there, it seemed to me anyone in that city should have been thrilled to learn of the God of the Bible. Instead of a stone god who expected sacrifices, the Spanish could have offered a Creator God, who sacrificed His own Son. But the message was garbled, threats were made, abuses were committed and today many Mexicans are still caught up in a religion of works, rather than a joyful relationship with the Most High God.
These misconceptions about God, Jesus and the Bible still abound. God is seen as the big killjoy of the world, because the message is still garbled. The code of conduct outlined in the Bible is seen as a list of criteria to get into heaven, but that’s a total misrepresentation of Truth. Shame on the religious people who promote this heresy.
I could go on and on, but I won’t. Next week I will leave religion and move on to politics.
We arrived at the Seadust’s theater in time to score some pretty good seats and the show started promptly at the given time. Things were looking up.
Many of the live shows we attend when we’re traveling include audience participation. It was probably most enjoyable when we were on our Nile cruise a few years before I started blogging. There was a hysterical game with potatoes and I won a belly dancing contest on Gallabeya Night. Bill is always the guy they choose out of the audience when belly dancers are involved and he frequently ends up on stage for other performances, too, like one of the shows on the Danube cruise. Thankfully, the participants for this particular show had to volunteer. Bill never volunteers.
Toto, we weren’t in Kansas anymore. The MC did a silly skit where he and an assistant taught four guys a series of four schticks and then the MC called out the names of the schticks in quick succession, trying to catch the contestants performing the wrong schtick. I was little surprised at the skit, because one of the schticks emulated a series of effeminate gestures. I’ve seen things like that before, but in politically-correct America, it’s been a very long time ago.
The audience enjoyed the antics and would laugh particularly hard when the four burly guys would wave limp-wrist-ed at the audience and turn around with simpering steps to waggle their behind at us. Apparently, politically incorrect is funny in Mexico.
Let’s Start the Show
After the Audience Participation skit was over, a series of Broadway songs were performed. The only song I actually remember was from Beauty and the Beast. I remember it, because the costumes were beyond shopworn. The yellow ballgown was thinner than cheap toilet paper and the Beast looked like he’d been roused out of bed for the scene.
Our favorite part of the show was a dance performed by a guy in, what I can only describe as a multi-limb-ed fabric-enclosed Slinky. The Slinky costume was brightly colored and the dance very entertaining.
Then, yet another opportunity for audience participation came along and yes, another gay-bashing schtick was involved. At that point we had seen enough. I sort of hate most political correctness, but obviously I don’t like gay-bashing.
Time to Call It a Night
Though it had been much more relaxing than the previous 24-hours, I’d had a pretty full schedule. We’d be leaving the following day, but I’d have plenty of time to do my packing before our transportation showed up. I’d stopped by the Best Day desk in the lobby right after breakfast and had made the arrangements. We wouldn’t be leaving until almost one.
I did take the time to be sure our towels and swimsuits were hung up to dry, but soon I had on my jammies and was reading more of my novel about Mexico. It was really beginning to get good. However, I didn’t get very far, because I was soon drifting off to sleep.
Packing It All In
I woke up early and went to the large bathroom and dressing area to pack up our things. It actually took longer than I expected, because Bill was up before I was through. We went downstairs for breakfast at the buffet and I had one more errand I wanted to take care of. I’d been shopping for a gift for my bestie throughout the trip and to my amazement, the best combination of selection, quality of merchandise and pricing was actually in the gift shop of the Seadust’s lobby. I selected the item I thought she’d like and use most. Then we returned upstairs to finish packing.
I felt like I was playing some sort of game, as usual. Our big suitcase can hold an amazing amount of stuff, but if I filled it up, we’d need a crane to move it and we couldn’t afford the surcharge the airline would levy for overweight items. On this trip, American allowed us each a carry-on. So, I juggled our stuff, hoping to balance just the right amount of clothing and shoes with the toiletries to put the big bag under 50 pounds. Then I had to make everything else fit into carry-ons. I couldn’t use exactly the same formula as I had on the way to Cancun, because all of our swimming gear was still damp and couldn’t be packed in the big bag. Eventually I was ready to go.
We’re almost through, except for the thoughts I’d been mulling over since the visit to Chichen Itza. if you come back next week, I’ll try to make my meditations coherent.