On the Burning of the Cathedral Notre Dame, Catholicism, and Colonization

When the Roman Catholic Church suffers any misfortune, and people have the nerve or freedom to say “it is God’s will,” I can only, in mind, be reminded of the films of the 1980’s and 1990’s that greatly question what the Papal powers and their relationship to the crown meant to the indigenous peoples they colonized in terms of a force of enslavement that profited Europe while equally failing to build a stable society in South America. I’m reminded as much of this as I am Sinead O’Connor tearing up pictures of the pope. The people of France may be troubled by damage to their landmark and less-than-troubled about the continued legacy of neoconglomerate ignored child slavery in its former colonist strongholds in Africa — but I am indigenous and someone whose family line’s rebellion against patriarchy made her a reluctant crypto-Jew in a combinant Catholic-Lutheran pattern that dominates South Chicago and its suburbs–and can’t remain silent.

This is why, today, instead of viewing something more contemporary, I was compelled to watch the 1986 Palme D’or Winner that inspired a good measure of my tastes and desires in storytelling: THE MISSION.

Roland Joffe and Robert Bolt take on a hefty historical narrative in this film which transcends our current senses of post-colonialism. It’s arguable that this film (though it is situated among other narratives that manage to break the mold of hegemonic storytelling of its period) is one of the first that supports the popular exposure of an industrial complex built by entities willing to exploit those most vulnerable to provide the labor that supplies a world of commanding countries with commodities that will not grow in their soils with little benefit to countries of origin.

Examining the politics of a pro-slavery Portugal attempting to take on free-born Spanish colonized indigenous tribes taught to do skilled labor as field slaves are laid bare in a breathtakingly composed epic shot on location in Colombia starring  Robert De NiroJeremy Irons, and Ray McAnally are more complicated in 2019 than one might suppose. Considering the U.S.’s own political implications with undocumented workers since the Eisenhower administration and the problematic landscape this has caused vis a vis American Military Action and Food and Factory Production, its message is enduring.

The notion that Pontiffs, Heads of State, and Tribal/Labor Leaders must always be at odds is deeply ingrained in our culture down to the systems that seed our identities — in Law, Religion, and Culture. The misfortune that is a society that develops on the exploitation of the indigenous rather than cooperation with them is palpable in the sweeping scenes that cinematographer Chris Menges composes and Jim Clarkintersperses to music written by
Ennio Morricone.

If only the hope of Reagan’s aspiration to the field of Humanities and President George W. Bush’s desire for programs to create amnesty and documentation were fully realized — we might know a situation better than the current one we can only properly call “The Great American Auschwitz.” Hundreds of thousands of people with indigenous ancestry are displaced from their countries of origin to feed the monster called “La Bestia,” while the Trump Administration posits they should be placed in the very Blue Dot cities that could not possibly abuse workers that are not marginalized to the same degree — and absolutely no one thinks of their integration seriously enough — as two administrations have built detainment camps and internment tent cities to contain the displaced.

It is refreshing to view anything at all dealing with this sense of politic — in the classic humanist storytelling arc the “profitable” World Epic has replaced in recent times. I will return to reviewing films from Dallas International Film Fest tomorrow after a sanity break.

I have found the substance I seek by traveling back in time to a more humanist period. I feel revived. Perhaps the systems of art and film production might additionally be so upon inspection.

My language may seem strong, in retrospect to some, I suppose, but I don’t mince words when it comes to what Eisenhower warned us about vis-a-vis the military industrial complex and the complex relationship Neo-Liberal policies have with world governments in terms of “worker supply.” It’s not far from AUSCHWITZ if you’re getting raped with no paycheck and living in a dirt dugout while state police look to detain and deport you if you don’t end up shot by Border Patrol. It’s no different in Africa, or any place this terrifying institution that molded any truth about what Early Christianity might have been as a Jewish Reform Movement to its image has touched.

Update: Walt Disney Corporation has offered to donate a large portion of funds necessary to repair damage at Notre Dame, which is its prerogative–but few are willing to actually untangle Cote D’Ivorie.

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