Thursday, May 18, 2006

For the love of God

As many of you know, this weekend marks the arrival of the long awaited film “The Da Vinci Code” from the novel of the same name. In the past few years, the book has sparked an amazing amount of public debate.

Mainly this controversy surrounds it’s depiction of a Catholic organization called Opus Dei (Latin for "The Work of God" or "The Work"). Opus Dei is an international prelature of the Roman Catholic Church. It has over 85,000 members in 60 countries. Some accuse this organization of secrecy, conducting clandestine financial dealings, ultraconservatism, support for the extreme right wing in politics, and of having a cult-like recruitment regime.

I live in Manhattan, on 35th Street and Lexington Avenue. From my top floor apartment, I have a good view of the newly constructed Opus Dei New York City Headquarters at 243 Lexington Avenue (Pictured above). It occupies the entire corner of 34th Street and Lexington. The building is enormous and cost over 47 million dollars to construct. It has a high tech security system and steel gates that close and lock in the early evening. It is about fifteen stories high and has a massive living space on the top floor with a triangular skylight. I can only guess that is where “the big cheese” lives. No … not Jesus.

From my production office space, I can sit at my desk and watch its members go about their “holy” lives. They run on their treadmills in the morning, and read and pray at night. The members who live there are called numeraries. The men often sleep on the floor, and the women will sometimes sleep on wood planks or without a pillow. All of them must remain celibate. A few years ago, I had a roommate who would bring a new girl back here every week to have sex with her. Since we have no blinds. I can only imagine how difficult that must have been for those numeraries across the street.

I could go on about Opus Dei, but you can find more information and upcoming documentaries from the Opus Dei Awareness Network.

To be fair, you can also get the Opus Dei point of view from one of their members Fr. John Wuack at his site “The Da Vinci Code & Opus Dei”

One passage you will find from this site is this one:

“There are groups, after all, in the Church whose members all use the cilice and discipline, because it is something essential to their vocation. This is not, however, the case in Opus Dei. Most members of Opus Dei do not use the cilice and discipline; within Opus Dei, these things are, in a sense, the exception rather than the rule.”
~ Fr. John Wuack

Some of you might not know what the cilice and discipline are. Here are some pictures for you. You can click the picture for more detail.

The cilice (Pictured below) is a metal linked belt worn around the leg. As you can see from the photo it has tiny barbs, which cut into the skin when worn beneath one’s clothing. It is worn two hours a day.

The Discipline (Pictured below) is a small hand held whip, which is made from white rope. The ends are tied into small knots.

Both are used to remind the user of the pain that Christ endured as he was tortured and eventually killed for our sins.

I have a few problems with Opus Dei.

1) They are so upset over the publication of this book because they feel that it hurts the image of Opus Dei. Most people are intelligent enough to know that Dan Brown’s depiction of this organization is sensationalistic. I firmly believe that what most people find twisted about this organization, can be found written in their own books “The Way” and “The Forge”. Among them is the use of a linked metal belt that cuts into the skin as you go about your day, and a small “pack and go” whip. Do you really think Jesus Christ would want you to be whipping yourself and cutting your skin with self imposed torture devices?

2) Do they really need a 47 Million dollar building? This is the same problem I have with the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church surrounds it's self with wealth. Golden chalices, stone buildings, vast financial resources. The Catholic Church and Opus Dei own massive amounts of stock and bonds. They have all this, while the majority of Catholics around the world live in abject poverty. Is that the message you get from the teachings of Christ? Do you remember the tid bit about having two coats? Luke 3:11 "He who has two coats, let him give to him who has none. He who has food, let him do likewise."

If you guys want to whip yourselves, knock yourself out. If you want to wear barbed leg clamps, feel free. If you want to drag your balls across a cheese grater, power to you. Come to think of it, if Christ saw how little you absorbed from the New Testament he would likely ask you to smack yourself in the face with it.


Blogger anne altman said...

Opus Dei shares a wall with the Stern School for Women's Cafeteria where they enjoy the pleasure of shitbag kosher food whilst tripping over themselves in ankle-length skirts...

i call it the creepy block of horrors.

12:20 AM  
Blogger Peter Matthes said...

That is true.

How do you know that?

Are you OPUS DEI Anne?

12:24 AM  
Blogger Robin said...

hmmm.. The end of the Journey for all life is death. This is inevitable.

What is interesting is that we rush our life like crazy, knowing that the end of the journey for everyone is the same.

Enjoy the journey.

12:26 AM  
Blogger geeksters said...

I enjoyed your post and your perspective. Opus Dei sounds so creepy.

12:46 AM  
Blogger LaineyWorld said...

In some circles discipline and physical torture are called a good time. Maybe some of these numeraries are secretly into BDSM and this is a way for them to fulfill that need without feeling guilty? And yes, I'm going to hell for all my irreverance!

12:52 AM  
Blogger anne altman said...

mr. holland's opus dei

9:50 AM  
Blogger claudia said...

Wow. This makes Scientology seem kind of normal.

12:27 PM  
Blogger whipcreamy said...


what pisses me off about the controversy about the book/movie is that the opus dei character in the book ends up not being the bad guy...just an albino midget or something who has never been accepted anywhere except for the Catholic in an indirect way it gives opus dei kudoz.

secondly, dan brown is a fiction author. this book has a disclaimer. i dont go knocking on the church's door saying that the bible in not true...and they dont even have a disclaimer! dan brown never claims everything in his book to be true! i heard him on npr the other day and he has been called by many preists for a debate and he's like, "um...i don't want to debate you b/c i actually believe in God and all i did was write a book and i am not even an expert". his goal is to spark debate...and he accomplished that!

12:59 PM  
Blogger Cat said...


2:15 PM  
Blogger the fourth person said...

can i get my own cilice and discipline off ?

4:49 PM  
Blogger Peter Matthes said...

Yes you can ... they also sell those furry love cuffs.

They are also having a special THIS WEEK ONLY in honor of the movie release. Buy two cilices get one cheese grater absolutely FREE. (Does not include shipping)

5:12 PM  
Blogger anne altman said...

do you think the opus dei residents enjoy the snapple bottles filled with pee on the benches of their public space?


5:32 PM  
Blogger Peter Matthes said...

Okay ... now you are spooking me out.

There is no way that you could know that unless you live near here.

-What is currently above the small parking lot to the right of the Opus Dei building?

-What advertisment is currently on the 34th Street bus stop facing the Opus Dei building?

You are either Opus Dei or a Murry Hill resident.

P.S. I drink a lot of coffee, and sometimes I can't make it that extra block. I wish they made a 20 oz Snapple bottle.

6:43 PM  
Blogger anne altman said...

I'm an Independent banker because I believe in Independence.

Don't you?

(flaggellating myself right now)

7:18 PM  
Blogger anne altman said...

ps i can see you picking your nose right now.

please stop.

7:25 PM  
Blogger Peter Matthes said...

Okay ... now I know you are lying ... liar.

You are 0 for 2 on my sneaky questions and I am not picking my nose.

I am doing Tai-Bo sans pantaloons.

Hold on ... reverse high kick time.

7:34 PM  
Blogger anne altman said...

Nose pickers never admit it.

Did you rent it at BLOCKBUSTER?

7:39 PM  
Blogger Peter Matthes said...

Nope ... I got it in the mail.

It's the brand new Boot Camp Elite DVD, complete with Billy Bands and a limited edition Billy Blanks autographed day-glo orange tank top.

Close ... but no cigar.

BLOCKBUSTER is to the right of the small garage. I am asking what is on the roof of the small garage. This item is unmistakable.

If you give me any street and any avenue in NYC and I can tell you from memory what is located there.

My questions were specifically designed. Both these items have appeared recently. Only a true Murray Hill resident (or Opus Dei member) would know the answers.

8:37 PM  
Blogger grumpygirl said...

peter, do you really wear pantaloons?

8:55 PM  
Blogger grumpygirl said...

and peter, can you do brooklyn as well?

9:18 PM  
Blogger anne altman said...

we are discouraged from looking at advertisements from the outside world.

i do however want to know what the fuck is going in where the old Sims was across the street.

Sometimes I kiss my cat and my lips blow up because I'm allergic.

9:46 PM  
Blogger Peter Matthes said...

Nope ... cannot do Brooklyn.

Every time I go out there on a train the name of the station is completely different from the street it spits you out at. That is a f*cked up Brooklyn inside joke.

I'm a Manhattan snob.

Sims is good, but you could have lived here a year or more ago to know that. (I think it had 2 Ms).

I think they are making it into a 24 hour one-stop cilice and Snapple shop.

11:39 PM  
Blogger Gabriella True said...

well they want to be noticed. that is why it is so big. overcompensation. oh and of course they put it on a very busy big corner in nyc so it is hard not to notice.

Look we are catholic and we still exist!! hooray.

2:12 PM  
Blogger Shadowspun said...

Am I one of the few non-Catholics who read the book, thought it was okay but didn't really excite me? The culprit did surprise me, but beyond that I haven't picked up any of Dan Brown's other books.

Actually, I borrowed the copy I read from my oh-so-Catholic aunt who pretty much said the same thing as me. So-so book with a nice twist at the end.

6:28 PM  
Blogger Deborah said...

Hahaha, that was awesome. It's so true, though,the Catholic Church really does have all this money, yet it would better serve the poor and the needy. I think Christ would understand if they spent money on feeding/sheltering the poor rather than spending it on chalices and all that jazz...

11:57 AM  
Blogger Arthur/Nurikane said...

Lemme divert the discussion a bit. Have you seen The Gospel of Judas on National Geographic Channel?

10:23 AM  
Blogger JohnDrakeMI6 said...

I want a Discipline just like the one in the movie Da Vinci Code used by the Monk. Does anybody know a good contact that might make those whips?

6:02 PM  

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