José María & María JoséSaturday, December 21, 2013
|Bronwen Marsden & Michael Unger
Having no photography business left to worry about I can safely say that as Christmas Eve nears (Nochebuena) I can already feel that Christmas feeling of not having to take off sleep wear during the day to replace it with go-outside kind of stuff. Those wonderful lazy days between Christmas and the day after New Year’s have begun early for me. I have no urgent slides to scan for a client or worry about finding contacts in the New Year to justify the keeping of my studio (long gone). In short I am doing nothing and feeling quite smug about it. I am a photographic version of that fading general, Douglas MacArthur.
But I would like to be clear that I do not hold Richard Nixon’s attitude that you will not have me to kick around anymore. I will be around in this world of instant communication that is not. The phone will not ring and no Argentine Spam, only the other will clog my email program. In short I can stare at my wife and be happy that she is there instead of my reflection on the mirror.
With these long night days where nothing much happens I have time to listen, full blast, in this very living room where I am writing this, four of Bach’s Toccata & Fugues for organ including D-minor MWV 565 or to think about such useless fact as the one I am sending your way.
This is that one of the most manly names a man can have who comes from a country where Spanish is the official language, is José María. The same applies to women. One of the most feminine of all names is María José. Those names come from a world that is disappearing.
I would like to divide the world in two. There is the world of those who were mature enough to understand the April 8, 1966 Time Magazine cover, Is God Dead? And there is that world of people born long after who would not understand the shock wave that one cover caused around the world. Perhaps the only other shock wave of similar comparison was the introduction of the birth control pill. Men no longer had to worry so much whose offspring his wife’s child was. A great chunk of the world’s religious morality rules were no longer applicable.
I will not reveal to anybody reading here what my views on God are. This is personal.
But I decry that with the loss of the magic of religious “magic”, all its pomp and circumstance, a film like The Hobbit and stupendous special effects cannot help a child mature into a human being of some worth. I believe you have to believe in order to then not believe. If you do not believe how can you believe in anything?
In 2010 my wife Rosemary, our two granddaughters Lauren, now 11, Rebecca, now 16, and I drove in our Malibu all the way to south Texas. On the way we stopped to visit Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C. in Austin. We saw him at St. Joseph Hall across from the large Neo-Gothic Old Main in which I boarded and went to school in the 50s. As we were entering St Joseph Hall I spotted the campus priest, Father Rick Wilkinson, C.S.C. I have no idea why at that moment I heard myself say to Father Rick, “Will you bless my granddaughters?” I was able to corral Lauren but Rebecca insisted on going inside to get on facebook in the St. Joseph Hall computer room. Father Rick placed his right hand on Lauren and uttered beautiful words while with his index finger he gently touched both her eye lids.
Since that day I have regretted not being more forceful with Rebecca. I even wonder if her terrible 16s might not have been ameliorated by Father Rick’s gentle hand.
I don’t believe in Santa Claus. I don’t believe in special effects and I eschew Tolkien, magic swords and rings.
What I believe in I won’t tell you. You will have to guess. And that might have something to do with Father Rick's hand.