One of my worst internet experiences was back a while. I was reading this young couple’s house reno blog, and scrolling back down through several years of posts I picked up that they were pregnant. I quickly scrolled by a pic of a baby, propped up and looking very unwell. I scrolled back to find out what was up.

What was up was that the baby had been stillborn. They dressed his body and photographed it and posted the picture to the internet on their blog.

I can understand that people all over the world take pictures of the dead and love them and look at them. What I do, which is cremate you within seconds of your last breath, and sprinkle you on the Gulf Stream, I understand others find sociopathic.

But whoah.

Reading the big profile of Rick and spooky Karen Santorum in the NYT — they brought their extinct baby home, so his brothers and sisters could say goodbye. I can understand that.

Then she wrote a children’s (?) book about it. It is sort of the major plank in his anti partial birth abortion bill. Not to mention Karen’s, a non-practicing lawyer’s, six-figure medical malpractice suit against a chiropractor who treated her for an injury related to the birth. The suit netted the Santorums, struggling to survive on his senatorial salary, taking cash from his parents, $75,000.

The next day, they took him home. ”Your siblings could not have been more excited about you!” Karen writes in the book, which takes the form of letters to Gabriel, mostly while he is in utero. ”Elizabeth and Johnny held you with so much love and tenderness. Elizabeth proudly announced to everyone as she cuddled you, ‘This is my baby brother, Gabriel; he is an angel.’ ”

Whoah. As she cuddled you? Forgive me, I’m not the biggest Christian in the world, but isn’t there something somewhere about thou shalt have no other Gods before me? Like dead bodies kind of thing? And what about the graven images thing? I do understand a body’s being an axis mundi, the rent in the veil through which eternity is pouring, honest I do. But that is an illusion. The axis mundi is you (or God in you).

I’m a big fan of the Catholic Encyclopedia ’cause they work this first commandment stuff out with real sophistication:
The Supreme Law-Giver begins by proclaiming His Name and His Titles to the obedience of the creature man: “I am the Lord, thy God. . .” The laws which follow have regard to God and His representatives on earth (first four) and to our fellow-man (last six).
•Being the one true God, He alone is to be adored, and all rendering to creatures of the worship which belongs to Him falls under the ban of His displeasure; the making of “graven things” is condemned: not all pictures, images, and works of art, but such as are intended to be adored and served (First).

As I said, I’m not the biggest Christian on the planet, but either God means it about the first commandment or he doesn’t. And if God is just kidding about idolatry, the Catholic Encyclopedia certainly is not.

But this is getting close to those diva realms in which people think tragedy makes them better than you and me. I can’t imagine for what other reason such a private consolation — perhaps the Santorums tell their children consoling things about the first commandment that they know aren’t quite true — would be made public.

Um. No. It is the Victorian fallacy Des Pres refutes for eternity in his study of the concentration camps.

Suffering refines no one.

The Gnostic gospels, ruthlessly repressed by the Catholic church apparently for reasons of male hegemony on apostolic succession, have Jesus laughing on the cross. You read it here first.

(c) Jeannette Smyth, 2012-2017, all rights reserved.