by Ernest Hogan
So, why would a self-professed heathen devil and believer in creative blasphemy like myself love Semana Santa, Holy Week? Why do I keep writing about it in my blog? Again? And again?
I’m constantly amazed by the fact that human beings are capable of believing anything. And once they get to believing, they are driven to do things that go beyond the limits of my perverse, overactive imagination.
Semana Santa is celebration of this. I enjoy it without guilt, only pleasure. Weirdness in the sun that sometimes gets bloody -- what’s not to love?
After all, bullfighting and crucifixion are my two favorite outdoor spectator sports.
So this week they’re getting ready to reenact crucifixions in Pampanga, in the Philippines, with real nails -- and once again they won’t bleed, and will heal miraculously. In Iztapalapa, in Mexico, they will use nail-like devices that don’t go through the body, but hanging from a cross does restrict the breathing and is still dangerous. It takes courage.
And penitentes are getting their Klansman-ish outfits (does the Klan know they are dressed to do penance? did the Nazis know what the swastika really stands for? do you know where the symbols that control your life came from?) ready for fantastic processions. Now they often include chariot races, soon we will also see gladiatorial games. Then, the Judases will be burned.
All with a shiny, new, virgin Pope . . .
Like most Latinos, I have a relationship with the Catholic Church. Fortunately, I had been running around a while and got my brain running before I was dragged off to catechism. I didn’t get why all these funny people with their funny clothes and funny accents seemed to think they had the right -- the duty -- to tell me how to live. Like Frank Zappa, I consider myself an escaped rather than a lapsed Catholic.
Members of my family now practice Buddhism, Hinduism, and other faiths. Forget your stereotypes.
Exposure to Catholicism helped in the inspiration of my novel High Aztech. Having Semana Santa going on now is helping with my going over the document (I almost wrote manuscript) before I send it off to be formatted for the ebook versions, and picking and tweaking the fonts for the lettering on the cover. Writing is my ritual.
I’m also getting ideas for another work-in-progress: my futuristic bullfighting novel, that will be as much about a woman on a spiritual quest as a spectacle of speculation.
Meanwhile, crucifixion reenactments are becoming more and more popular, and not just among Latinos and Catholics. Borders are being crossed and are breaking down.
And not far from where I live, under the jurisdiction of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, down a street with a lot of Virgin of Guadalupe shrines, past a guard tower with a rifle-toting mannequin, there’s a high school. At the end of a football field are three life-sized crosses -- with foot supports . . .
Ernest Hogan is the author of the controversial novel High Aztech, that will be resurrected soon.