Catholic Church needs its own Met Gala

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The Met Gala was on Monday night, so of course I spent most of the next day looking at photos of celebrities, athletes and others dressed as if they were going to dine at a Dali painting. . In truth, most men looked like groomsmen at their best friend’s wedding – Billy Porter, where are you when we need you? but swords, horse heads and spiders in the face.

Some might have questioned the logic of having the gala as the pandemic continues to sweep across our country. (Singer Nicki Minaj explaining that she was not attending because the event required a vaccination – while promoting bogus stories about impotence-causing vaccines – once again highlighted the problems our country is facing. confronted.)

But the main question I had while reading about the Met Gala was, How can we get the Catholic Church to sponsor something like this? Because we absolutely should.

The main question I had while reading about the Met Gala was, How can we get the Catholic Church to sponsor something like this? Because we absolutely should.

I know what you are thinking – a decadent show of wealth, really, is that what the church needs right now? I seem to remember something about Jesus and some money changers. Here’s an idea: why not use some of that wealth and privilege to do good?

To which I would respond, first of all, Jesus attacked the moneylenders to do business in the holiest places of the Jews, not for wearing a beautifully torn American flag for a skirt (and looking amazing. , Debbie Harry). And second, haven’t you seen Regina King’s incredible boss outfit or Lorde’s halo crown? Because they were the very definition of “really good”.

I am joking. Except that I am not either. Haute couture can certainly find its way into decadence and the grotesque; it can represent a radical disconnection with the trials of real life, a sort of Marie-Antoinette in sewing.

I know what you are thinking – a decadent show of wealth, really, is that what the church needs right now? I

But at its core, fashion is a celebration of life, beauty and the human form, all of which is eminently Catholic. We so often hear of the incarnation of Christ in language hostile to the world – Christ “stooping down to our humanity”. In fact, as Catholics, we believe that Christ’s choice to be human is a validation of our existence, not just an invitation to see the physical beauty of the world as blessed, but an emphatic insistence that it is so. the case. We can no more reject fashion as a legitimate expression of our faith than we would reject the Renaissance or the midnight mass.

Billie Eilish might not see herself as praising God by walking up the steps like Cinderella in her peachy princess Oscar de la Renta dress, but from our Catholic perspective it’s absolutely a part of what’s going on. the low.

This is also why having the church sponsor its own galas is such a great opportunity. We are able to bring out those deeper, often otherwise rudimentary instincts within such a celebration – the impulse toward the divine, the celebration of the human.

At its core, fashion is a celebration of life, beauty and the human form, all of which are eminently Catholic.

As a church, we are also able to contextualize a fashion event in a way that a secular group cannot do so easily. We can organize a gala that celebrates orphans or refugees around the world, medical professionals, hurricane victims or essential workers. And further, we can take the opportunity to help them, just as Pope Francis has so often turned his papal visits and audiences into new opportunities for people to see and love the less of us.

We can ask Balenciaga not only to design dresses for refugees, but also to train them; asking Chanel to donate not only hats or jewelry, but also funds to support vacations or spa time for exhausted nurses; ask conflicting hip-hop artists Kanye and Drake to come together and donate to a restorative justice organization; give the mainstream media and their audiences new paradigms for thinking about immigrants, the disabled, the elderly.

I also aspire to an event like a Catholic Gala because of its possible impact on our community. Much of public life in the church today seems to exist in the form of argument – leaders and others debate doctrine.

A lot of things are good, even important. But what is at the heart of our faith is not quarrels or even speech but experience, the personal encounter with the divine who humiliates us, delights us and changes our hearts. Sometimes we feel like we have relegated ourselves to eating on the ashes while Jesus sits beside waiting with a feast.

So treat me to a party sponsored by the Archdiocese of New York, Denver or San Francisco filled with magnificent sculptural pieces designed by Prada and Valentino and worn by Malala Yousafzai and Beyoncé, Dr Fauci and Rihanna, Iman and the Olympic team of refugees. Let them know us by whom we embrace and our zeal for praise and pleasure.


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