To me they were beautiful women, radiant in the glory of the Holy Spirit, but I could see why some might call them everyday women. They were just some volunteers from various church groups, dressed in jeans and sweatshirts to work in the soup-kitchen, cutting up vegetables and greens like millions of other people in kitchens all over the world at that very same moment, joyful in their fellowship of the kitchen, doing the things men and women do in the kitchen, life-giving practical arts and crafts. They were women drawn by their faith to do something good for others, and that had better be beautiful, else we have no beauty left in this fallen world of ours.
Deacon David and I had talked about beauty and perception over coffee with his advisory council, a couple of senior parishioners at St. Thomas More Catholic Church who don’t mind indulging in a deep thought now and then. Sometimes I join them for coffee after Friday morning Mass, and this week Deacon David was talking about how some times couples in the marriage-prep catechism had considered venues other than church for their weddings, because they were supposed to be beautiful sites. One thing led to another and I got on my soap-box about aesthetics and how most people wouldn’t recognize beauty if Rembrandt himself came up and hit them over the head with an oil painting. I got on about NFL owner Jerry Jones and how his wife has bought a lot of art and how probably Jerry knows it’s art because of how much he pays for it. One of the parishioners caught on and suggested that maybe Jerry looked it up online and saw the five-star rating, just like those couple who wanted to get married in the five-star destination resorts had been convinced of the beauty of those places by the opinion of others.
Then Deacon David and I, already nourished by the Body of Christ at 6:30 Mass, had gone downtown to Loaves and Fishes, the soup kitchen he directs for Magnificat Houses, and I’d seen the beauty of everyday women. Thanks be to God.
Since we were downtown in Houston and it was Super Bowl week, Deacon David and I took a walk to see the Super Bowl LIVE experience, and I wished I had brought a bucket to catch up a little of the money sloshing around in that crowd. I saw women who were supposed to be beautiful, women who had paid a lot of money to surgeons and gyms and tanning salons to make themselves beautiful, but all I saw was the money. I try not to be cynical, but (like Samuel L. Jackson’s character in that gangster movie) I have to try real hard in the environment of NFL football—everyone around me seemed possessed by a frantic spirit of postmodernist enthusiasm, like they didn’t care what they were excited about but were just excited about being excited. They were excited whenever the camera turned their way. Otherwise, they were looking for the camera. There were a lot of cameras around because the Super Bowl LIVE compound–spread across downtown Houston’s Discovery Green as well as packed into the George R. Brown Convention Center–was the broadcast center for the NFL Network and Fox Sports coverage of the Super Bowl.
We saw Shannon Sharpe and Skip Bayless on the set of their Fox Sports 1 show, which features them hollering at each other. Shannon Sharpe used to be a beautiful athlete, a Pro-Bowl caliber tight-end in the NFL, and played in some Super Bowls. Skip Bayless, I have no idea what he used to be or do but now he just hollers at Shannon Sharpe on TV and they call it debate. My guess is that the money they spent to send these two “personalities” and their broadcast facilities to Houston for the week would have covered the budget for Deacon David’s soup kitchen for a year, easy. That’s really where we were at, where the big money of big-league sports meets America’s most needy, the hungry and the homeless. See for yourself:
Ground zero for the book I’m just starting to research: Man of the Year: Big-Money Sports and Community Service in Trump’s America. More to come . . . .