Tide Pod Vestments and Child Abuse

Custom-tailored vestments for use by Pope Francis and other bishops at the upcoming World Meeting of Families.

By John Zmirak Published on August 20, 2018

Today I’d like to talk about something that might seem a bit trivial. Tacky religious vestments. But if you’ll bear with me, I think you’ll see that in something this “secondary,” and “external,” a dark world of meaning lies hid. That’s how symbols work, isn’t it? There’s a universe of difference between presenting a woman with a bouquet of long-stem roses, and draping her in a horseshoe wreath as if she’d won the Kentucky Derby. (Try it some time!)

Or replacing Old Glory at a U.S. soldier’s funeral with the flag of Disney World. (Don’t.)

Destroy the Symbols, Obscure the Truth

Now, each is a bunch of flowers, or a piece of cloth, a fool could argue. Isn’t it “arbitrary,” even worldly, to insist upon such distinctions? Every sophist since the Enlightenment has used this kind of logic. Why? To gradually dismantle the symbols of what he hated: the Church and the truth She teaches.

They’re playing the mood music for sin, like jazz pianists in a brothel.

And it’s the sophists among the clergy who today wear the vestments I’m talking about. These same men distort the moral law in pink fogs of emotive self-expression. Stern dogmas for which thousands of martyrs died, they wave off as distant “mysteries,” which is their word for a “muddle.”

And they camp around wearing chasubles and stoles with crude designs, in toothpaste primary colors. The emblems on them are sometimes vaguely Christian. A lamb, a fish, an olive branch. At other times the images are abstract, pretentious, and cosmic. Sometimes, as in those pictured, they look like nothing but Tide Pods.

Not Childlike But Childish

But even when the pictures have some vague religious connection, they’re always rendered crudely. They’re like abandoned art projects of some sullen, talentless child. They’re childish, not childlike, since kids do the best they can. But these images were crafted by well-paid adult professionals, designed to seem like the work of innocent children. There’s something deeply sinister there. Like a strange man dressed in a clown outfit, crashing some children’s party.

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Confront them, and these pastors pretend that such symbols are “indifferent.” We’re Pharisees for criticizing them. And yet they clearly know that they’re important. Try to replace them with beautiful, traditional garb, to replace a banal modern liturgy with a solemn ancient one, and watch the hissy fits! (See the traditional, respectful, adult vestments below.)

Good vestments2


Primitivism in the Service of Decadence

The modernists always choose vestments, and graphics, and pictures, of the same distinctive type. Studied attempts to seem juvenile, careful poses of innocence. They’re sending a message, all right.

(For a good, long, Catholic rant on this subject, check out my old column “All of Your Church Are Belong to Us.”) 

What does it “say” when vestments are expensively crude? When liturgy committees carefully plan out services to seem casual? And pastors gut exquisite marble altars and replace them with crude butcher’s slabs? When the music used at services for major Christian feasts would embarrass Barney the Dinosaur? And lovely religious art gets thrown away, replaced with primitive daubings?

Why did Archbishop Rembert Weakland, when he wasn’t in the hot tub with his boyfriend (whose silence he bought with churchgoers’ money) make a point of helping to wreck the Catholic liturgy? (He was one of the main influences in stripping down and secularizing the Mass at Vatican II.) Why did he spend millions ripping out the magnificent interior which poor Catholic immigrants had built in Milwaukee’s cathedral, to make it lavishly hideous

And why are the Catholic bishops at the World Meeting of Families — in an Ireland that just chose death, in the midst of another abuse crisis, led by clerics guilty of cover-ups — dressing up like children? In pastel colors and dopey designs?

It’s All Just a Big Game to Them

It’s not quite what you might think. It’s not a direct attempt to corrupt vulnerable boys. It goes a bit deeper than that. What these bishops are doing is keeping up the atmosphere where sex abuse tends to happen, along with every other kind of evil. They’re playing the mood music for sin, like jazz pianists in a brothel.

None of it matters. The stakes are low. Nobody here’s going to hell. In fact, we’ll all go straight to heaven. Our God is sweet, dopey, and loving. He doesn’t have very high standards. If he did, would we be dressed this way?

When you take what is sacred and paint it profane, you’re making a point. When you take stern, adult truths and present them in cheap stick figures, you’re sending a message. When you infantilize adults, and collapse their distinction from children. …

You’re saying this: None of it matters. The stakes are low. Nobody here’s going to hell. In fact, we’ll all go straight to heaven. Our God is sweet, dopey, and accepting. He doesn’t have very high standards. If He did, would we be dressed this way? If in fact each one of us were treading a knife edge between eternal happiness and torment, do you think we’d be singing these sappy, repetitive songs? If Christ demanded more of us, or you, would we really be dressing, acting, and singing, as if it were all a joke?

And that is the message which men with dark compulsions, in religious professions, want to hear more than anything. It’s the big bag of candy they use to tempt themselves into the back of a dark, tinted van.


John Zmirak is Senior Editor at The Stream, and co-author of recently released The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration.

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  • Jmjt1

    The last one arrested in the diocese of Allentown wore the traditional vestments almost all the time… And he was an exorcist .. It is not the outside, but what comes from within, quoting one Jesus of Nazareth

  • tz1

    During Lent and Advent, I’m often thinking only the headpiece is missing since everything else is purple and the rest is at best Barney’ theme: I love you, you love me, We’re a happy family…

    • So you hate the color purple of Christ’s sacrifice because it isn’t manly enough for your ego?

      The more I learn about you “trads,” the more I am sickened.

      • tz1

        The color purple derives from the Murex snail that provided dye to the CORRUPT ROMAN EMPERORS..
        Christ’s sacrifice was in blood, which is red, last I checked.

        • Are you Catholic or a protestant (sedevacantist)?

          • tz1

            Trad Cath. I’m not a sedevacantilist, despite Francis’ best efforts.

          • Clearly you may want to reconsider.

  • Howard Rosenbaum

    Well, one might inquire if the design of those new vestments were a not so subtle subterfuge for attracting the kiddies – to see what’s hiding underneath those happily colored designer sheets ….?!

    • The scandal was young men and sodomites. Yet you do not reject sododomy, you just cover it up by scapegoating the Church.

      So far in one careless comment you have incurred the mortal sin of calumny and the sin that cries to Heaven of blasphemy.

      • Howard Rosenbaum

        ” Scapegoating the church ” …?!

        The “church” as you reference it is something more ( much more ) than simply an organization. One that does not need me to ” scapegoat ” it , as you put it ..!
        The “mortal sin of calumny ” ..?!
        Please , you cannot be serious. Though by the tone of your reply it’s clear that you actually are . Hard to believe that folk such as yourself can’t see the proverbial forest from the trees . Your comment suggests an alienation from the ( true ) grace that teaches us to deny ungodliness & live soberly & righteously before our God.
        There is no ” mortal sin of calumny” or even a suggestion of that anywhere in scripture. It is apparent that your “catholicity” precludes the ability to grasp the intended meaning of that word.
        The only blasphemy scripture references is that which is against the Spirit of The Living God . That said , you may want to revisit your theological pandering & rediscover Who it is, that you presume to believe, the knowledge of Whom you seem to have lost along the way.
        You know, that One who holds the highest regard for holiness & hates any perversion of His precious gift of sexuality which has grievously impacted the hearts & minds of some ( as I noted ) in that “church” which you accuse me of scapegoating.
        Those “sodomites” you mention “blasphemed “if you will, the very sanctity of the trust those young men placed in those who feign the role of “priest”.
        Your claim that I embrace sodomy is as outrageous as your seemingly discounting of the “church” that permitted it to go unreported or prevented as long as they did ….!

        • The Church is the Catholic (Universal) Church founded by The Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

          calumny is the mortal sin of lying in order to defame. As with all mortal sins, it relates to a breaking of the 10 commandments.

          blasphemy is self-injury as a result of denial of God. What you do to spit on the Church that houses God to the total detriment of your soul is a perfect example of that. Another example of blasphemy is your delusion that you have made God subservient to your ego.

          blasphemy is the third sin that cries to Heaven for vengeance. sodomy is the second sin that cries to Heaven for vengeance. Nothing in the Church supports sodomy. Who does support sodomy is you because you are covering for sodomites by scapegoating the Church.

          Attacking the Bride and Mystical Body of Christ helps no one (especially not you in eternity), however doing so in order to obfuscate the real culprits of sodomy (sodomites) is right out of the marxist playbook. The prot heresy was the main inspiration for marxism after all.

        • Kathy

          This is nothing new, Howard. He has no clue that his attitude and what he says actually further discredits his church and their beliefs and practices. Let him have at it.

          • Howard Rosenbaum

            Right .
            Every expression of the faith has gems which while being polished, promote something more of the majesty of God.
            So also in varied degrees does each expression of the faith manifest from within its ranks error . Thank God for the witness of the Spirit within our spirit that like that light which shines in that dark place causes the day to dawn & the Morningstar to arise in our hearts .
            Something which seems exceedingly difficult for some amongst us to apprehend …..

          • Kathy

            So true and well said!

  • Bacchus

    Somehow the apostles managed to get by without vestments, and without dressing up like clowns.

    If you’re a minister and you get into playing dress-up on Sunday, you’ve got some serious issues. Your calling was acting, not ministry.

    • Zmirak

      Look at images of St. Augustine, other Church fathers. They wore dignified vestments appropriate to their office.

    • Priests wear the garb of sacrificers, which is the garb of the High Priests of the Old Covenant.

      The Apostles did wear vestments as they were the first Bishops of the Church.

  • Ray

    I’ve seem some weird stuff, man……

  • Ray

    Creepy the Clown?

    • Chip Crawford

      Trick or Treat

  • Joseph Fitzgerald

    The symbol on their vestments is one of many variations of the triskelion symbol. It is extensively used by Neo Druid, Neo-Pagan and Celtic reconstructionist groups, as well as by Celtic Wiccans and in esoteric magic. The triskelion is also used as a symbol of the pagan pre-Christian Irish deity Manannan mac Lir, a member of the Tuatha Dé Danann (sons and daughters of the goddess Danu). Needless to say, this symbol has no place in Christian Vestments.

    • Sam Sham

      Okay. But looks like spermatozoa chasing each other to me. Now THAT’S appropriate.

  • lindenman

    “They’re like abandoned art projects of some sullen, talentless child.”

    Going to have to stop you right there, my man. The ones I’ve seen look more like the work of a child tweaking off sugar-laden breakfast cereal.

  • Chip Crawford

    2 Cor. 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
    15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
    16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
    17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
    18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
    7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

  • Howard

    Yeah. I’m tempted to link it with the prevalence of tattoos on both men and women today. The tattoos seem to indicate a kind of Gnostic idea of the body and spirit having basically nothing to do with each other. Essentially this is a rejection of an assertion that, as a child, I had believed to be incontrovertible: “It is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves.” It finds its ultimate expression in sex change operations or in massive plastic surgery to resemble a doll or an animal.

    The liturgical vestments are of course more external than tattoos, and yet the aspect of trivializing something sacred just to show one can is common to both.

  • Gail Finke

    My husband is a graphic designer and his favorite saying about design — from a famous European designer — is “You can’t NOT communicate.” Anything designed communicates a message. Now, there are rare people completely unaffected by design, but most people are extremely affected by design. If they were not, there would be no architects, interior designers, product and packaging designers, clothing designers, costume designers, etc. A thing’s design tells other people what it is for, how important it is, and who uses it. Design can lie about these things or tell the truth about these things, but that’s what it does. When an important thing made to look trivial — which is NOT the same thing as looking humble or simple — that denigrates the thing, its use, and the people who use it.
    IMHO these vestments are simply silly. They take the role of bishop, which is supposed to be that of priest, prophet, and king in the person of Christ, and make it look like a little girl’s costume for an Irish dance competition. There’s no excuse for this.

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