Dismantling The Vatican

vatican

My father was beyond judgmental; he was an imperious iconoclast with opinions about absolutely everything. The Professor expressed thoughts in the form of edicts and proclamations, as if to say disagreement was a pointless exercise. One did not have discussions with the old man, much less debates. One was educated.

My family traveled a great deal when I was young, and my dad, an architect and aficionado of esthetics, among other things, was fond of dragging us to cultural touchstones like cathedrals, gardens, and art galleries. He would explain, with signature irreverence, (much to the horror of passersby), and we would listen with appropriate respect, if we knew what was good for us.

The Vatican

I remember walking through the Vatican with him. Together we examined every gilt detail of this opulent, overwrought warehouse, admiring the way it oozed wretched excess at once gaudy and operatic, carefully designed to intimidate and lure with meretricious sparkle. Sweeping his arm in grand theatricality he exhaled loudly and sneered, “Cecil B. DeMille”.

The Snarling Atheist

My father was no mere agnostic, I should point out, but a snarling atheist who put nature in the place frequently occupied by God. Still, he admired cathedrals from an architectural standpoint and an artistic one. He was much taken by the cathedrals in France and took great pains to point out that the men who built them often worked their entire lives without seeing the finished product, indeed, many of these monuments required centuries to complete, and, generations of stone carvers toiled in anonymity, devoting their skill, art, passion and best energies to a higher calling.

No Guarantee Of Reward

How does the old saw go about the man who plants a tree knowing that he will never live to sit in its shade?

Published by

Alistair McHarg

Alistair McHarg was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, moved immediately to Edinburgh, and three years later moved to Amsterdam. At 6 he settled in Philadelphia and for 16 years was confused by Quaker education; Germanton Friends School and Haverford College. A Master of Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Louisville nudged him even closer to unemployability. Convinced at an early age that fate had chosen writing as his calling, Alistair followed a characteristically slow and circuitous path. He has found work as deck hand on a Norwegian tramp freighter touring South America, Bureau of Land Management Emergency Fire Fighter in Alaska, guide at a Canadian wilderness survival camp, truck driver crisscrossing Colorado's continental divide, and inner city cabbie. Alistair has been arranging words on paper for a living since 1983.