Sunday, September 17, 2006

Papal Reign

In this day and age, surely we could have a gay, black Pope. It was hardly worth waking up this morning as the news was dominated by the dreary tedium of ‘Benny the Dull’ causing controversy in the Muslim world – that is so not difficult to do.

Anyone who has read Benny’s entire speech can easily see why newshounds seized on the insult to Islam which came mercifully early in the speech but followed such contemplative gems as,

‘We would meet before and after lessons in the rooms of the teaching staff. There was a lively exchange with historians, philosophers, philologists and, naturally, between the two theological faculties’.

One can dream but the grim reality is he probably wasn’t referring to fluid exchange, not even a spoonful of sherry, I’m afraid. Journalists must have thought all their Ramadans had come at once when they were tossed their exit quote from 14th Century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus,

‘Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.’

A brief pause was presumably necessary as foreign correspondents fiddled in their pockets for their Ryanair tickets while simultaneously attempting to file copy via their Blackberrys. Benny the Dull continued,

Once a semester there was a dies academicus, when professors from every faculty appeared before the students of the entire university, making possible a genuine experience of universitas - something that you too, Magnificent Rector, just mentioned - the experience, in other words, of the fact that despite our specializations which at times make it difficult to communicate with each other, we made up a whole, working in everything on the basis of a single rationality with its various aspects and sharing responsibility for the right use of reason - this reality became a lived experience.

I know it’s been translated from the German so the fact that it doesn’t seem to make any sense at all may not be entirely err … germane. I don’t speak German myself but I have watched German films with English subtitles and what seems to happen is you get five minutes of dialogue and then the subtitles appear,

‘You’re such a shit,’

‘I’m going out for cigarettes.’

‘Auf wiedersehn, arsehole.’

There’s not even any real need to translate the last line. Everybody knows what it means because of an eighties television show called Auf Wiedersehn Pet which was about Geordie builders going over to Germany and arsehole seems to sound the same in every language and it was also in the show rather a lot. In the world of theological academe however, the pace is even slower than gritty eighties drama.

By the time Benny the Dull was mid-speech, foreign correspondents were safely tucked into their beds, perhaps gleefully anticipating the inevitable storm of protests. Sadly, not a single journalist was left in the auditorium to collect the scoop of the day – that Benny the Dull seemed to be calling for the abolition of hell. Not before time either. Surely it is not acceptable to go on threatening children with what is clearly a negative life choice,

‘The thesis that the critically purified Greek heritage forms an integral part of Christian faith has been countered by the call for a dehellenization of Christianity - a call which has more and more dominated theological discussions since the beginning of the modern age.’

Only the staunchest defenders of the faith could have still been awake as Benny the Dull rounded off,

‘And so I come to my conclusion. This attempt, painted with broad strokes, at a critique of modern reason from within has nothing to do with putting the clock back to the time before the Enlightenment and rejecting the insights of the modern age.’

Now, can we have that gay, black Pope please, and soon. I don' t know that Prince is doing that much right now. Not that he's necessarily gay but he could play gay, he's an artiste right?

Cartoon from

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