Within the past hour, my attention has been drawn to two seemingly unconnected matters.
The first concerns the decision by a world-wide confectionary brand to remove the term "Easter" from its marketing campaign and packaging of egg shaped produce. In short: "gesture eggs" are in, "Easter eggs" are out.
The decision may prompt expressions of surprise and disappointment from certain quarters. But, one is entitled to ask: should we be surprised? The customary tsunami of chocolate produce presented for sale annually was originally timed to coincide with the Christian feast of Easter. However, eagle-eyed shoppers participating in the post-Christmas (or should I say winter holidays?) sales will have noticed that in recent years, the only manifestation around 6 January has been the introduction of egg shaped confectionary produce to the shelves of many supermarkets. This sequence has indeed, become the subject of well-placed humour and derision; a status it shares with the transition from summer garden furniture to Christmas decorations in the month of September. Is there a possible explanation for this development?
When viewed in purely calendar terms, the position could objectively be considered the culmination of a corporate marketing strategy which seeks to liberate the aspiration for enhanced sales from the restricted confines of several weeks consumption sharing a temporal coincidence with Easter. It could equally be founded upon a form of corporate inclusivity: an organisation seeking to embrace the fact that its marketing strategy should not permit its produce to bear the prefix 'Easter' any more than it should market "Eid eggs", "Diwali Delicacies" or "Rosh Hashanah Roses"
A more sinister interpretation of these events might, however, lead to the conclusion that this is a further step in the direction of homogeneity. That is, the vision of a European calendar which bears no trace of its cultural origins or traditions. What might be considered by some to be a more subtle form of ethnic cleansing or memory modification. Perhaps what we are witnessing is the outworking of an ideological ambition to not merely remove such terms from the confectioners' lexicon but also from communal discourse all together?
It was this notion which drew attention to the second matter, namely: the nomination by Pope Francis of Cardinal Kevin Farrell as camerlengo.
Rightly or wrongly His Eminence Card. Farrell was one of the senior clerics mentioned in the fall out of 'storm McCarrick' last year. There was no suggestion of any wrongdoing on the part of His Eminence. It was reported that he was, however, one of the senior churchmen aware of concerns regarding allegations of misbehaviour on the part of Archbishop McCarrick himself. The question of whether Cardinal Farrell was in fact aware of these matters is too important an issue upon which to speculate. It is, of course, a matter for those who reported the concern to make good the substance of their report. It is nonetheless clear that the fact of the report has happily not impeded the Pope's wish to appoint Cardinal Farrell to such a position; a position of not merely honour, but singular authority. Such a decision requires not only courage, but conviction.
Some may recall the cinematagraphic depiction of the camerlengo in the film adaptation of Dan Brown's 'Angels and Demons'. Not exactly a role model for anyone nominated for the position, but one is at least given some indication of the centrality of the post in the event of sede vacante.
Whether we have in mind the Holy See, or the corporate board room, we must hope that should there be a change of ideological direction, there is also one who is willing to serve as Proust; able to recall what may otherwise lie forgotten. The alternative requires the mass production of a remembrancer of the type enjoyed by Dumbledore of Harry Potter fame.