Friday, April 22

I'm over popes

I haven't written for a few days because, like the rest of the world, I've been spellbound by the whacky goings-on of that eccentric religious cult, Catholicism, as it goes about choosing a new great leader.

A bunch of Cardinals locked in a room, not allowed out until they choose God's earthly spokesperson from amongst themselves? Signalling the result to the world with coloured smoke from a chimney? I mean, come on! If these guys were all wearing the same sneakers and white tee-shirts and mixing a big tub of KoolAid, you'd even think twice before calling them an orthodox religion. If they were all holed up in the same compound in Lunkhead, Texas, the FBI would have already stormed and burned-down the Vatican, and most of the cardinals would have died in a shootout with federal agents by now.

I see a lot of parallels with Tibetan Buddhism in the the papal selection process too - the transformation of the candidate from "just some Cardinal" into "infallible voice of God" over the course of a few days in a closed room. A mere mortal (granted a venerated and elite one) comes out after all that smoke and ceremony as a semi-deity with the authority to speak on behalf of God.

If anything, the Tibetans are a bit more plausible about it, choosing a young boy who isn't yet aware he's the reincarnation of some long-dead Lama. Catholics, on the other hand, believe that God (who as all-seeing, all-powerful-dude, is certainly capable of choosing and appointing his own Pope directly) is going to be OK to work with the most politically-savvy and double-dealing amongst the cardinals. Getting appointed a cardinal is somewhere between becoming a Mafia don and becoming President of the USA in terms of the kind of backing you need... and the backs you need to stab.

Anyway, once the most-Macchiavellian of the cardinals takes the chair, suddenly he goes from crusty, forgetful old greyhair in a red robe to infallible voice-of-God. With merely a change of outfit for special effects. We haven't seen anything like it since Yoda's transformation from hunched-with-a-walking-stick to triple-somersault-over-your-head-with-spinning-back-kick-and-fireballs.

I can only suppose a Pope's infallibility is strictly limited to matters of Catholic doctrine, not every day life, as otherwise you could go to the Pope for your footy tips, or lottery numbers. The mafia would have him locked in a damp cellar somewhere, fixing the odds.

I've been giving it a lot of thought and I have a new way to choose a pope once 'ole Ratty' takes the last Popemobile to the catacombs. I tested and rejected some great ideas along the way to get here too, ideas like "Choose the short shepherd's staff" and "Lets through our names on bits of paper into the tall pointy hat", and even, "Eeenie, meanie, minie mo, catechism by the toe..."

I've gone for something more up-to-date and in-tune with modern culture. And it would rate better too. I call it "Papal Idol", and like the popular "[insert country name here] Idol" it would choose a small group of talented people from massive open try-outs (we might refer to them as "mass") appoint them cardinals for a television season, and then winnow them down through a rigorous and gruelling series of musical performances until only one was left, asking the faithful to SMS in their vote each week. If God's OK with a bunch of crusty old men choosing a Pope from their midst, you have to figure He'd be awestruck with the talents and popularity of the best singing, dancing Pope, as chosen by the people.

And Catholicism having a bazillion followers, most with modern mobile phone networks, the SMS revenue from this would be stunning, even by Vatican standards.

Anyway, I'm over this pope now, he can't even think of an original stage name for himself, like "Bardot" or "N'Sync". He's clearly being managed poorly. I'm predicting it's going to be a very long thirty years, without so much as even a charting single, much less a Top 20 album.

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