I was amused to read that Cardinal Renato Martino, a kind of General Peter Pace of the Pope's Posse, has issued a 10 Commandments for Drivers, officially called "Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road." Martino heads up the Vatican office of migrants and itinerants, most of whom, one could argue, probably don't drive much, so the Pastoral Care guidelines were...at the very least, a bit out of Martino's daily bailiwick. But those kinds of details never stopped The Church from issuing proclamations.
You can read the whole story here, but what caught my eye, immediately was Commandment Number 5.
"Cars shall not be used for an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin."
Obviously, there could be some muddling of the new and old Commandments. Number 5 of the original 10 Commandments for ye who have lapsed or otherwise forgot is "Thou Shalt Not Kill," for Catholics and Lutherans, although for Jews Number 5 is "Honor Thy Mother and Father," with murder being relegated to Number 6. Not surprisingly, Number 6 for Catholics is "Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery"---but all that is no doubt another subject for another day.
Although I am a big fan of the original Commandment Number 5, I am thinking that it's far too late for me to adhere to the New Number 5, noted above. And the issuance of a whole new 10 Commandments for Driving may be just a bit disingenuous on the part of the Vatican---not, mind you, that this would ever preclude Vatican equivocation on any subject. I submit two facts of history to support my contention.
First, Pope John Paul's PopeMobile was a Mercedes ML, retrofitted a bit for the protective bubble, of course; I have a Mercedes too; I'm sure his was not meant to be an expression of power and domination, and, naturally, neither is mine. I drive my Turbo VW Bug for that. (::eyeroll:: as my niece says).
Secondly, if the automobile were not an historically significant "occasion of sin" none of us would know much about...sex. Certainly those of us who were raised Catholic, as I was, wouldn't know much. But...I do! First kiss? 1954 Mercury 2-door hardtop coupe in Parklane Green with Turquoise Blue/Arctic White interior. First, significant petting? 1962 Chevrolet Impala SS hardtop, burgundy. First, uh, advance party exploratory mission? 1963 Mustang, coupe, sunrise yellow with black interior. First Time in a car....I beg your pardon! I had a little more discretion than that when the big day arrived. By the way, does anyone remember: was it Howard Johnson's Motor Lodges that had the brown and orange color scheme, or was that....?
Martino also suggested prayer while driving and even pointed to the rosary as a good past time because its "rhythm and gentle repetition does not distract the driver's attention." I beg to differ! The Rosary, if said properly, is fifty, count 'em, Hail Marys and a few other prayers that will lead even the holiest among us to fall asleep at the droning "rhythm and gentle repetition," thus causing us to crash our cars and create all manner of havoc.
The thing is, if you grew up in the Midwest, in the '50's and '60's, as I did, you are going to be into and know your cars, generally speaking. Although your first driving experience may have been on your grandparent's farm, on a John Deere, your second driving experience was probably with your dad in the parking lot of the local high school on Sunday afternoon when no one was around. You had to pretend you hadn't already done the basics with your boyfriend two months earlier. The basics of driving , that is.
I think the Vatican needs to stay out of issuing edicts on driving, but, given the church's lingering presence in the bedroom, the car was inevitable, I suppose. Also, the PopeMobile link provides a fascinating historical overview of the relationship between the Vatican and Mercedes Benz. Disclosure: I happen to work for a Mercedes Benz dealer. I just know there's a Papal edict coming about blogging.
Well, actually, I did think there was one new Driving Commandment that had merit. I believe it's number 8, which states that those who are too young or too old should be charitably told not to drive.
So, when you charitably suggest that I give up my beloved wheels, and you will, be kind.