Religion as spectacle
Following the Pope's warning about the dangers of the culture of celebrity, it is interesting to reflect that the Catholic Church may, to date, have been its most effective proponent.
As early as the Renaissance, the Church had established itself as a world leader in the deployment of the power of music and light, costume and imagery in the spectacle of the Mass. In an age before there was a name for public relations or image management, it invested on an impressive scale in art and music to get its message across, establishing the format and controlling production values in franchised weekly and daily performances across Europe.
Last week, five centuries of development culminated in the appearance of Susan Boyle on the same stage as the Holy Father. If Pope Benedict remains in any doubt about the worth of simply being "famous for being famous", a quick review of his own record prior to becoming Pope turns up nothing which would appear to warrant the public adulation we saw during his visit. At least Susan Boyle can sing.
Steve Bradbury, Lymm, Cheshire