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Thursday, March 21, 2013


The Papal Conclave has begun, and people seem pretty revved up about it. They love their religions, and they are fiercely protective of them. People of different faiths are warring all over the world, because they have faith that their faith is more faithful than your faith. Sure, they may commit an atrocity or two here and there but it’s absolutely okay, since God rules much the same as my parents did: “Go play outside and don’t do anything stupid.” Religions only exist because no one wants to believe that after you die is probably not that much different than before you were born. So everyone is struggling to make a good impression before judgment day.

And now the Papal Conclave will sequester itself for a period of time, and the cardinals will finally emerge as a butterfly. Or am I thinking of a pupa? No matter.

What people do agree on is that the church is going to have to change with the times in order to survive. How will the church move into the 17th Century and remain relevant? Should Catholics practice birth control even if they are good at it? Should there be women priests? Should there be male nuns? Should the church allow abortion, especially for couples who meet on Christian Mingle? Do we want a more active pope or just a guy sitting around pontificating?

What about the pope’s mode of dress? The hat makes him appear taller, which is good. But the chasuble is not very slimming. How about in addition to papal vestment, a papal sweater-vestment? Maybe a fleece (like Governor Christie’s) that reads, “POPE, World Spiritual Leader.”

Also, how do we deal with the miracle situation? These days, there are security cameras EVERYWHERE, and when somebody says that they parted the Red Sea, you can just check the video tape, and BANG, it’s only a fat guy doing a can-opener into the deep end. Looking back at the paintings, it’s obvious that Moses can’t even part his hair, let alone the Red Sea.

During the conclave, rising out of the Vatican will be either black smoke signifying that they have not elected a pope, white smoke signifying that they have, or blue smoke signifying that one of the cardinals has accidentally lit their hair on fire.

Rumors flew that Regis Philbin or Dennis Rodman might be elected. Archbishop Dolan was considered, but in the end, seemed just a little too happy to be at the party, as if he might put a whoopee cushion under somebody’s seat.

On TV they showed a ceremony where all the cardinals stand in line for about 45 minutes so they can touch a page of the bible. This takes place in the Sistine Chapel, which I visited once. It was an incredible sight, or so I am told. I couldn’t see anything since they keep the lighting at the level of dusk, so that Michelangelo’s ceiling will be preserved. The whole scene is very serene, and very peaceful, except for a security guard yelling, ‘NO PHOTO! NO VIDEO!!!!”

Just getting into the place was hard enough, since they have a strict dress code. Once we cracked the code, we realized my wife’s dress was too short, and she had to buy a pair of paper pants for five dollars. Inside, every single work of art contains either a nude woman or a little baby penis, so go figure. Walking around in paper pants with all those candles around, they must lose a couple hundred tourists a year to spontaneous combustion.

During the conclave the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel were brightly lit for the television cameras, and seeing them thus, they seem a little gaudy- maybe it’s time to redecorate? Maybe something a little less busy up there.

Then it happened: The new pope was elected. The crowd in St. Peter’s Square erupted in rapturous rejoicing because they now had a new spiritual leader. Thank goodness, because for two days I noticed a lot of unled spirits heading for the casino, or over to Goldfinger’s. Especially excited was the Argentinian contingent, who thought that soccer was somehow involved. I see no pressing reason to rejoice. I joiced once and see no reason to do it again.

This man is now one of the most powerful people in the free world. He can go anywhere he wants at any time, travel in a bulletproof glass vehicle that also has little saws that come out of the wheel hubs that can flatten the tires of any enemy vehicle that pulls up next to it, although I may be confusing that part with a James Bond movie.

He can say anything he wants at any time and no one will question him, unless they want to know what the heck he said, since he talks in Latin. Nobody but the pope speaks Latin anymore, despite the fact that everyone listens to Latin music.

Now the pope is now waiting to be installed, which is a union job. The Pope is always so old that if you look closely, you realize that during any speech he is screwed to the podium by about twelve toggle bolts, or else he would keel right over.

It all seems like a bunch of silliness to me, but the bottom line is I am keeping my options open, depending on how things are going when I am about to drop dead. I may rot in hell in one religion, but be reincarnated as Lindsay Lohan’s lawyer in another.

Incidentally, Catholics recognize St. Peter as the first pope, unless he is wearing a disguise. The term “pope” comes from the Latin word for “father,” and did not come into use until 366 AD. At least 20 popes were martyrs, which means that they were killed because of their religious beliefs. By the way one of their religious beliefs was that people should never be killed because of their religious beliefs. Another 14 popes were “allegedly” murdered, meaning that it was difficult to tell if they were actually dead.