Orthodox Church patriarch blesses a t.v. studio with a paint roller

This is funny, but also, I think, a good sign. According to the BBC, Patriarch Daniel of Romania’s Orthodox church has used a paint roller dipped in holy oil to bless a new broadcasting studio. The church, however, calls the roller a “sanctification rod”:

The ceremony did not go unnoticed by Romania’s press and internet humorists, with altered versions of the photos being widely circulated, Adevarul news website reports. One popular blogger posted an image showing the Patriarch apparently endorsing a brand of paint.

As reader “lantog” posted in the comments below, ‘Does that make the guy a holy roller?”

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“Father, I think you missed a spot.”

The good news is that a lot of people made fun of this ludicrous demonstration, even in Romania:

The ceremony did not go unnoticed by Romania’s press and internet humorists, with altered versions of the photos being widely circulated, Adevarul news website reports. One popular blogger posted an image showing the Patriarch apparently endorsing a brand of paint.

Since Romania is pretty religious, with 81% of its people self-identifying as members of the Romanian Orthodox Church, and only 0.2% as atheists, that’s a good sign.

Here’s the breakdown from Wikipedia:

Screen shot 2014-06-19 at 7.15.15 AM

Sanctification rod, indeed!

The blessing of modern scientific technology by religious figures and ceremonies always amuses me. I learned yesterday, from my friends who are visiting from India, that their space agency always seeks Hindu blessings before launching a satellite. And, sure enough, that seems to be true.  This is from the Times of India on Feb. 24 of last year (my emphasis):

TIRUPATI: Ahead of the launch of the Indo-French satellite ‘SARAL’ onboard Isro’s workhorse rocket PSLV from Sriharikota, Isrochairman K Radhakrishnan on Sunday offered prayers at the hill shrine of Lord Venkateswaranear here.

Radhakrishnan offered prayers on Sunday morning for the successful launch of PSLV-C20 on Monday, temple sources said.

An ardent devotee, Radhakrishnan visits the shrine to seek divine blessings ahead of every satellite launch and makes another trip after its success, the sources said.

Radhakrishnan was accompanied by his wife Padmini. Since the last two decades, heads of the space agency have made it a practice to visit the the over 2000 year-old Tirumala hill temple to seek divine blessings before every satellite launch, the sources said.

 

40 Comments

  1. GBJames
    Posted June 19, 2014 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    sub

  2. Dominic
    Posted June 19, 2014 at 5:38 am | Permalink

    I have to have a week off soon & will be getting out my ‘sanctification rod’ to paint the ceiling!

    • GBJames
      Posted June 19, 2014 at 5:41 am | Permalink

      I was startled to learn that I, too, own a sanctification rod! I’ve never used it on my TVs though.

      • moarscienceplz
        Posted June 19, 2014 at 10:31 am | Permalink

        If a priest offered to show me his “sanctification rod”, I’d run away!

  3. Posted June 19, 2014 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    I can accept that the % of atheists will be very low, but there should be a margin of error in an upward direction due to closet atheists.

    • bobsgutarshop
      Posted June 19, 2014 at 6:55 am | Permalink

      They probably represent a healthy chunk of the 6.2% missing data slice.

      • Posted June 19, 2014 at 8:40 am | Permalink

        Also, some of those who identify with a religion are really closeted atheists.

    • Ion Ionescu
      Posted June 20, 2014 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      As far as I noticed around me, the poll error is in another direction. People are so strong indoctrinated that they refuse the church as corrupt, but they still believe in the trinity.

  4. PM
    Posted June 19, 2014 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Isro-chief-seeks-divine-help-for-Mars-mission/articleshow/25238936.cms

    The ISRO chief also sought divine blessing before launching rocket to Mars and offered a rocket replica at the temple. He has been criticised by rationalists and media for carrying on with such superstitious behaviour. From what I have read, ISRO scientists also break coconut before any launch for good omen.

    On a separate note, Bollywood (India’s popular-mainstream film industry)is notorious for such superstition, where film names are changed to accommodate numerology and movie shootings scheduled to appease sky gods.

  5. darrelle
    Posted June 19, 2014 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    Sanctification Rod?

    O . . M . . G

    My mind just fell into the gutter. The RCC was the first thing that popped into my mind along with, “of course, what would you expect with people who are supposed to abstain from sex?”

    No father! I don’t want to be sanctified again!

    • GBJames
      Posted June 19, 2014 at 6:49 am | Permalink

      Pedantry note:

      Of course, these guys are Orthodox Christians who, if I have my sects right, don’t need to claim celibacy to do priestly things.

      • Ion Ionescu
        Posted June 20, 2014 at 11:01 am | Permalink

        You are right. Celibacy is a rather recent inovation. It has not reached Romania. But if you want an office, one that gives you the power to tax the priests as well, you have to be a monk. Hence, the big guys are without legal wife, but not without partners. One can trick the system by waiting to become a widower or convincing the aging wife that she can take an office with the nuns.

    • Posted June 19, 2014 at 7:42 am | Permalink

      Yeah, my mind went straight into the gutter as well…
      Somewhat sad.

  6. Posted June 19, 2014 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    Well, if you think that by changing your thoughts (believing in something) you can change reality (I get to live forever!), then believing in magic paint isn’t too hard of a stretch.
    :)

  7. Posted June 19, 2014 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    Doesnt that make the guy a ‘holy roller’?

    • Posted June 19, 2014 at 6:50 am | Permalink

      Okay, that takes the thread. In fact, I’m putting your comment above the fold.

    • GBJames
      Posted June 19, 2014 at 6:52 am | Permalink

      LOL

    • Merilee
      Posted June 19, 2014 at 7:20 am | Permalink

      Damn – ya beat me to it:-))

    • Draken
      Posted June 19, 2014 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      Pity I had to look it up, that takes away some of the hilarity. Some.

  8. SA Gould
    Posted June 19, 2014 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    NIfty trick to get him to dust the TV screens- “No, Father, you have to *do them all!*”

    • Draken
      Posted June 19, 2014 at 8:00 am | Permalink

      Can’t risk a demon-infested broadcast, can we?

  9. Jimbo
    Posted June 19, 2014 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    I wonder when an Indian rocket explodes on takeoff like this one:

    do members of their Space Agency forsake the hill shrine of Lord Venkateswaranear and seek another Hindi Hill prior to their next launch?

    • Draken
      Posted June 19, 2014 at 8:08 am | Permalink

      Or do they summon Lord Venkateswaranear for a parliamentary inquiry?

    • Kevin
      Posted June 19, 2014 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      You know what would prevent these failures: prayer. Yeah, do not fill the fuel tanks with anything but prayers. That would avoid this any future launch mishaps.

      The religious should be provided such a telecommunication satellite network: one that works on prayer.

  10. Draken
    Posted June 19, 2014 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    There’s a BBC news clip from last year, where some Romanians voice their doubts about the increasing power of the Orthodox Church.

  11. Kevin
    Posted June 19, 2014 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    I wonder if he was briefed before hand how much oil to use. The idea of someone oiling 60in monitors is not necessarily good for the optics.

  12. Posted June 19, 2014 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    I’d be perfectly fine with all these silly rituals if everybody knew that they have no bearing on reality whatsoever.

    I mean, I’m all for taking time to smell the roses, and I don’t have a problem if somebody wants to pretend that a good lungful of rose has a magically invigorating effect. It’s when people stop pretending that things go south….

    b&

    • Prof.Pedant
      Posted June 19, 2014 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      Yes. Rituals and habits can feel good to engage in. The problem only comes when one believes that they actually do anything more than provide a personal sensation of comfort/support/luck.

  13. Diana MacPherson
    Posted June 19, 2014 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Is Romania for realz religious or is it a culture identity the thing? I just did a whole thing on religiosity in Russia whence the majority of Russians identify as Russian orthodox but most do not believe I life after death, go to church regularly or consider themselves very religious.

  14. Posted June 19, 2014 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    A room in a photo has one wall covered floor to ceiling with (presumably) state of the art 21st century highly advanced, complex telecommunications equipment, each comprised of thousands of carefully engineered precision components, technology capable of sending and receiving energy waves transmitting sound and images globally via highly sophisticated orbiting satellites launched from planet Earth by ballistic rocketry, alone a feat virtually not imagined 100 years past, and not possible until the last half century.

    In that room stand two men in flowing robe garments dating at least two millenia, one also adorned with ceremonial headgear denoting exalted station. Headgear dude in his white robe uses a century old implement constructed of maybe a dozen simple & inexpensive parts assembled using a simple, fundamental, albeit highly utiltarian design, little more than a stick with a simple rag-covered rolling cylinder attached to one end, to apply some paint. Black robe, holding a ceremonial fetish in each hand, raises one implement in the photo, part of his role in this religious ritual. Both figures in the photo, due to their dress, bearing, and facial expressions, eloquently convey the pius gravitas in this blessing ritual.

    They would conduct themselves identically if celebrating a Pope’s Mass or announcing sentence of execution in burning pyre during an Inquisition. This rote symbolism regularly inspires devotees to instances of reverant ecstacy. Humans are capable of such astonishing (and comedically silly) self-delusion.

    • Diane G.
      Posted June 20, 2014 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      Nothing more to say, you’ve nailed it.

  15. Ion Ionescu
    Posted June 20, 2014 at 3:43 am | Permalink

    That might be funny for you on the other side of the World, protected by a correct constitution. It’s not that funny in Romania. Where religion is taught in school. Priests and monks are paid a regular wage by the state. And it’s no minimal wage. Where a priest can make a salary from the Ministry of Education for teaching religion in the state school. Or a wage from the Ministry of Health if he is going «to confort the sick» in a hospital. You have the state owned TV broadcasting every major religious service. The state pays for building churches. And churches are made not only on private land, but also on University land and hospital land. The church has private radio and TV because of these subsidies. Like two decades ago, the previous patriach of Romania was sponsoring a soccer club.

    Romania is a country where politicians make a pride point out of attending church services and the press speculates at which church a certain politician would be on easter night for example. And many more. Reading Ayaan Hirsi Ali I have realised how much orthodox christians and fundamentalist muslims have in common.

    • GBJames
      Posted June 20, 2014 at 6:01 am | Permalink

      You should learn to appreciate the value of humor and ridicule when it comes to religion and religious leaders in particular. You’re leaving an important weapon unused.

      • Ion Ionescu
        Posted June 20, 2014 at 9:39 am | Permalink

        James, you have a very good advice. But I just feel sick when I see this kind of show. One or two years ago, the Eastern-most bishop sold to an undercover journalist the entrance exam to his state owned, state paid theology faculy. Not only the guy did not have to pass the exam, but also he was registered in the first year in April, when others started in October, a year before. Everything on tape.

        Did you know Romania has the highest density of theology faculties in the World? Learning the holy songs gives one a right to a Phd. Kinda’ nullifies my 4 years of University and the hard exams.

        • GBJames
          Posted June 20, 2014 at 9:56 am | Permalink

          No doubt you are correct. My advice… make the clergy out to be the laughing stock they are. Their beliefs are comical, even if they are a powerful and dangerous social/political force.

          • Ion Ionescu
            Posted June 20, 2014 at 10:09 am | Permalink

            Would you be some kind as to advice some further reading?

            • Posted June 20, 2014 at 10:36 am | Permalink

              I don’t think anybody did a better job of ridiculing the priestly classes than Mark Twain. Hitchens was also exemplary, though more biting and less humorous (though still often funny).

              b&

            • GBJames
              Posted June 20, 2014 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

              I’m not sure it’s as much a matter of reading material as watching for opportunities for mockery and ridicule. Like the image that graces the top of this page.

              (I realize I’m tempting accomodationists with that comment. Queue the “more files with honey than vinegar” comments in 3, 2, 1…)

    • Ion Ionescu
      Posted June 20, 2014 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      I reread my comment. Besides bad English I noticed a blurry spot:

      > Priests and monks are paid a regular wage by the state. And it’s no minimal wage. Where a priest can make a salary from the Ministry of Education for teaching religion in the state school. Or a wage from the Ministry of Health if he is going «to confort the sick» in a hospital.

      In fact all these above minimum wages add up. One wage for being a recognised member of the religious caste. A second for being a religion teacher. A third for givig confort to the sick. Than there are church donations, tax free. And payment for church services, also tax free for weddings, funerals, and all the rest. At christmass time one might also get a bonus for singing carols. Than the orthodox do ask for money for personal prayer or for mentioning a relative during mass. No wonder a church job in a well off neighbourhood can cost the equivalent of a new Mercedes.


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