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Carol Muske-Dukes Headshot

Nowhere Man

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Reports come rocketing in from around the world -- head-butts between institutions and individuals: butlers and nuns and feminist punkers vs. same-old bureaucracies, status quo-ters and creaky cranky Old Boy hierarchies, religious and political.

In Rome, we have the Pope's butler going rogue, charged with "high crimes" for trying (in his words) "to expose rampant corruption" in Pope Ratzinger's Vatican.

In the U.S., we have "Nuns on the Bus," trundling from the Midwest to Washington, D.C., speaking out against Paul Ryan's "Let them eat cake" Ayn Rand rants- - and formulating a response to their icy rebuke from the (as above) corrupt and creaky Vatican for caring too much about the poor and women's rights and not enough about gay marriage and abortion.

In Russia, we have the feminist-punk group, "Pussy Riot" jailed (and now convicted) for singing an anti-Putin song in a church.

And finally, in St. Paul, Minn., my hometown, there is Archbishop John Nienstedt, waging a nasty personal-patriarchal crusade against gay matrimony, spearheading the production and distribution of 400,000 copies of a DVD on why Catholics should stand against same sex marriage. Nienstedt apparently also announced in 2010 a re-structuring that closed 21 parishes and schools in the archdiocese, which seemed to emphasize the limited resources of the archdiocese, yet he managed to spring somehow for a mountain of malicious DVDs.

City Pages, a Twin Cities alt-weekly newspaper (with an estimated readership of more than 300,000) recently featured a caricature of Nienstedt on a cover -- in 12th century Crusader knight regalia, brandishing a sword, a cross-embossed shield and a death-ray gaze. Nienstedt's penchant for polarizing his flock with his homophobic pronouncements reached an all-time low (or perhaps an all-time penetrative high?) when he denounced the film "Brokeback Mountain," focusing on specifics of one cowboy character "mounting" another for "wanton anal sex." One can only hope that the adjectival climax afforded this "guardian of faith and morals" some relief.

The name Nienstedt, which translated is something like "no town," could perhaps be more liberally rendered as "nowhere." Thus, I'd like to suggest that the title "Nowhere Man" is as fitting as "Crusader" for the Archbishop and could perhaps be added to his titles. From Rome to Russia to the Nuns on the Bus, the celebration of protest and the shock of scandalous revelation on world-wide questions of human rights, gender equality, institutional hypocrisy and corruption -- and the dying off of the Old Guard in all its forms -- leaves one struggling to imagine how lonely it must be out there on that mountain of unwatched, broke-back DVDs. (Local artists made a sculpture of several thousand of the rejected disks).

Introibo et altare Dei. Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam. "I go unto the altar of God, unto God, who is the joy of my youth." I don't go to the Nowhere Man -- I go to my own idea of the deity, and he isn't up on a mountain, flinging DVDs at a frightened flock below. He's the joy of youth, he (or she) is celebrating joy of love in all its forms and functions -- since there is so little of it in this world, Nowhere Man, so little indeed.