Power Trip: Flying First Class to Serve the Poor
Book of Hours: The Beguilement of Brother Alphaios
The e-book is expected to be available on Amazon Books for all you e-readers before the beginning of the holiday season.
PAPERBACK COPIES TO FOLLOW! We are also on track to have the paperback version in hand and ready for purchas by the holidays.
In Book of Hours: The Beguilement of Brother Alphaios, Alphaios visits a cardinal’s residence for the first time:
“They moved up a circular driveway in front of an expansive brick house with a green lawn and towering shade trees. For one house to occupy so much land in this city was astounding. Alphaios could see an abundance of beveled glass set into dark wood. The house and the neighborhood whispered age and enormous wealth. When the driver opened the door, Alphaios asked him where they were. “Cardinal Fleet’s residence. The maid will let you in.”
Inaki led the monk up the stairs and onto a wide veranda, where he rang the doorbell. As promised, a maid greeted them. She led them across glossy wooden floors into a large, sedate room with a very high ceiling. It was darkly furnished but well lit by the sun through cut glass in mullioned windows. Alphaios admired their effect on the quality of light.
There were many seating options available. They chose the ends of the same long sofa that might have been a century old. It was comfortably worn but looked like it would last decades more. He didn’t know about Inaki, but if asked, Alphaios would have had to admit he sat there so he could be near his friend. This was foreign territory.”
This is a picture of understated wealth and power. In real life, a German bishop of the Roman Catholic Church recently took the path to overstatement, and has won international notoriety and an urgent meeting with Pope Francis I as a result of profligate spending for his own aggrandizement. Most ironic and tone deaf, perhaps, was the first-class flight he took to the slums of Bangalore, India, purportedly “to help the children” and “to serve the very poor”.
in real modern-day life, Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst is known for stern homilies to his flock regarding the godliness of austerity and poverty: “Whoever experiences poverty in person” he has preached, “will discover the true greatness of God”.
Yet even while imposing cost-cuts in his diocese, the bishop has spent $55 million building a private chapel (though the cathedral is only steps away), a private garden, a new apartment for himself, a library, a museum for religious artifacts and some guest quarters. And perhaps in a nod to one real need, a new residence for nuns. Expenses include $610,000 for art, $34,000 for a conference table, and $20,000 for a new bathtub for his use only.
“Do as I say, not as I do,” seems to be the message from this bishop of bling.
The other irony, of course, is that it was also a German priest who in 1517 tacked 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg church and began the Protestant Reformation. A man named Martin Luther.
The first-class flight to Bangalore? A mere $7,000. Oh, and another $7,000 for his chief aide to accompany him. To serve the poor.