Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Black Smoke and All: I'm Back in the Saddle Again, but the Pope Is Not

I attended class yesterday and today. I usually would still be in class on a Tuesday, but my gymnastics professor sent out a message asking those of us who could do so to attend a 7:00 a.m. session that would cover both the gymnastics and tumbling courses for the week.   I then had two lectures through which to sit, so I'm finished for the day.

       There go the Men in Red: galaxy defenders.

There was an apparently unsuccessful attempt at selecting a pope, sending the resultant black smoke into the air. It's good that the election happens in Italy and not in the U. S,, because our Environmental Protection Agency would never stand for sending clouds of  black smoke into the exosphere.

What would be done to here in the U. S. to signify a requisite vote (I believe it's a two-thirds majority that is needed for a pope to be chosen.)?  Maybe someone could extend a white cross upward and through the chimney of the Sistine Chapel for a "yes" vote, and a black cross for a "no confidence" vote. Perhaps it could be an auditory signal.  Something upbeat, such as "Everybody Wang Chung Tonight,"  "Celebration" by Kool & the Gang, "The Hallelujah Chorus" from The Messiah, or any one of hundreds of upbeat passages could be used.  If the vote didn't reach the required two-thirds majority, something like  Chopin's Funeral March in B Minor,  "Highway to Hell," something by Pat Boone,  or Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" might work.  I'm barely tapping the well here. Possibilities abound.

                            Better  than smoke signals?

Or the signal wouldn't necessarily have be auditory. When Kim Jong Il was born, spontaneous rainbows erupted in the skies all over the world. Why no spontaneous ubiquitous rainbows for the pope? Or, on a less global note, something like the bat symbol that was projected in the skies above Gotham City when Batman needed to be reached could be used.  Depending upon how much info the cardinals and the church as a whole wanted us to have, they could project into the skies an image  of the elected pope, perhaps with a halo over his head. If the election were unfruitful, the highest  (but not high enough) vote-getter's image could be projected, surrounded by a red circle with red slash across the image)  from some tower in the Vatican City into the skies above Rome. This --telling us who was closest but got no cigar -- is probably more info than the red vestments want to give the masses, but something similar could be conjured.  Maybe the image of  a generic, faceless pope with the red circle/slash icon could be used. Or perhaps the signal for a no-two-thirds-majority  vote could be  a Batman-projected image of the devil, complete with horns; most fitting, I'd say. Or, and I think this is my best idea  yet,  is flashing The Joker  (Cesar Romero's version; he'll always be the real joker)  a la the  bat signal when a useless vote has been cast and counted.  I'm not saying any of my ideas must be used, or that they're even good ideas, but they are more creative and less environmentally damaging than the black and white smoke signal nonsense.  Even native Americans have given up on smoke signals, and some of them are quite primitive in how they conduct their affairs, with all their operating of casinos and kicking tribal members out randomly to avoid having to share casino profits.

Interestingly, cardinals over the age of eighty are not only barred from consideration as potential popes, but are not even allowed to be a part of the selection process in terms of voting. They are invited to attend a meeting of the conclave before the voting process begins, but then are asked to leave the Sistine Chapel.This practice seems a bit ageist. I'm as anti-gerontocracy as is the next non-Mormon, and I can see the wisdom that Mormons apparently cannot see in not appointing a person above the age of eighty to a Church's highest post,  but to assume that a person of the age of eighty or beyond is incapable even of making a sound judgement as to whom might best serve as leader of a church is an awfully broadly sweeping generalization. Medical insurance companies, among other organizations,  routinely administer assessments measuring a person's level of cognitive function related to age,   ie. dementia. Perhaps the Roman Catholic Church should devise a similar system for its cardinals. I''m not suggesting that 98-year-old Ersillo Tonini be made the next pope, either because of his age or in spite of it. I know nothing of Ersillo Tonini besides his age and cardinal status. He could be the most lucid creature on the planet, or he could be  lighting brown kindergarten-sized Crayola crayons and smoking them, genuinely believing that they're Cuban cigars. I'm using Cardinal Tonini merely as an example.

Jamming devices have been put into place to prevent any of the cardinals from leaking any privileged info.  If the Catholic Church cannot trust its cardinals to maintain confidentiality, who in hell can they (or we) trust?  Can't  the cardinals just be told to leave their cell phones off for the duration of the conclave?  Furthermore, why in hell are we, the masses, traipsing into confessionals on a regular basis to confess our innermost secrets to men whose ecclesiastical levels are lower than those of cardinals  if Cardinals cannot maintain confidentiality  regarding matters of extreme gravity? Why should I assume my  parish priest can keep my confidences?

I have questions as to why the ballots must be cast in secret, but perhaps such a thing is for the best. Even though  the church would somehow wish for us to believe otherwise, popes are every bit as human as is the next person. It might be difficult for a pope not to be influenced in decision-making processes by knowledge that a cardinal had cast a vote for or against him.

The cardinals are supposedly not voting again until tomorrow morning in whatever time zone the Vatican City happens to fall. Why? What more important things do they have to do than to elect their next leader?  Are they all so intent on catching the tonight's episode of "Celebrity Wife Swap" in real time that they must postpone the next vote until tomorrow morning? Give me a freaking break.

And one final thought/question/whatever?  These men are presumably dining on the people's dime. My guess is that they're not passing around jars of  of peanut butter and jelly and spreading the contents on bread all by themselves.  Someone roughly equal in skill to Giada De Lorentis or Mario Batali  is probably, even as I type,  preparing food for the cardinals that will make the food I will serve at the wedding I will most likely someday have look like In & Out Burger or school cafeteria fare by comparison.  In the name of feeding the hungry and clothing the poor, the cardinals owe it to themselves and to what they profess to believe to get this job done as expeditiously as possible  so that no more resources than absolutely necessary are wasted on this conclave.

           I'm throwing my full support behind this man.

My vote, even though I don't actually get a vote and my candidate is not considered eligible, is still for Father Alberto Cutie.  Just look at him. Is he pope material,or what?

# and amen

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