The Wholly Unholy

Some of my clergy brothers and I were discussing the way that people describe government buildings – like the US Capitol – as “sacred” or “holy.”

In Judaism and Christianity, the idea of “holiness” means “separation.”  Something is holy if it is “set apart.”

So in a sense, as one of my colleagues put it, in the ordo politicus, there can be a kind of holiness in the secular world.  I agree.  Washington, DC is indeed “set apart” in the sense of raw sewage, which we segregate from our drinking water, or criminals, whom we set apart from the general population.  In that sense, DC is “holy” in its putrid evil, with the Capitol as a sewer of living, breathing, life-destroying sociopaths, a temple of demons, a pretty building filled with the living dead.  And yes, there are exceptions, but exceptions tend to prove the rule.

I thought of another analogy.  Storeyville was a red-light district in New Orleans from 1897-1917.  It was “set apart” from the rest of the city as laws against prostitution and drugs went completely unenforced.  There were published directories of prostitutes, including descriptions and price lists.  Some of the finest houses in the city were brothels inhabited by pimps and whores.

To be clear, I’m in favor of legalizing voluntary consensual behavior between adults, but let’s have no illusions about the fact that liberty can indeed mean the freedom to make bad choices.

At any rate, Storeyville is a fit description of the ultimate red-light district, the District of Columbia.  P.J. O’Rourke noted as much in his book, A Parliament of Whores.  For beneath the inspiring architecture, the magnificent mahogany furniture and marbled floors, the overpowering elegance, and the sense of unlimited money, Storeyville had the ugly underbelly of venereal disease, addition, sex trafficking (even of minors), and political corruption including bribes and payoffs to politicians.

Just like DC!

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12:04 pm on February 16, 2021

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