When all else fails, try religion. I mean once you’ve tired of Free Cell, seen the last video on the Blockbuster shelves, and worn out the Monopoly board, what’s out there to relieve the pain? Keeping up with current events holds no promise, given American democracy’s apparent inclination to dash itself on the rocks.
But there is religion!
The Vatican, for example. Have you heard their latest? They’re complaining now that the world is ganging up on them for their little problem with naughty priests and for their stand on homosexuality. Specifically, they’re pissed that the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee rejected the candidacy of Rocco Buttiglione, a personal friend of JP II, for Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security. Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, in fact, of the Pontifical Council for Justice (sic) and Peace called the whole business – are you ready for this (rumble of the drums, subliminal images of Monty Python…) an I N Q U I S I T I O N.
Oh, Mary, sometimes you’re just too good to me.
Buttiglione’s stance that homosexuality is a sin, the committee decided, suggests he might not be the kind of guy you want defending the civil rights of European citizens – which rights increasingly include same-sex marriage, not incidentally.
Difference of opinion, obviously. Culture war, arguably. But I N Q U I S I T I O N !?
Doesn’t this guy ever talk to his buddies across the hall? Ratzinger, for example. You remember him. The guy who, according to his fan club, "keeps himself busy in service to the Truth: correcting theological error, silencing dissenting theologians, and stomping down heresy wherever it may rear its ugly head." His title is (the drums again…) G r a n d I n q u i s i t o r. (Check out his fan club at http://www.ratzingerfanclub.com – I sh*t you not, it’s a real fan club which keeps track of articles defending the war in Iraq and rages against bishops who are "unwilling to discipline legislators who support procured abortion by banning them from the sacrilegious reception of the Eucharist.") (http://www.catholickerrywatch.blogspot.com/)
In case you missed that, they’re talking about Kerry, and making the case for voting for Protestant Mr. Bush instead.
Which brings us to a Protestant version of insanity and my current favorite televangelist, Pat Robertson. Did I tell you I heard Robertson tell his gigantic audience on the Christian Broadcasting Network once that people are mistaken in thinking Christ will come again to "sow peace." "The next time he comes," Robertson announced, "he’s coming with the sword. Read your Bible!"
You remember when Robertson and Falwell had this great moment of telling America 9/11 was God withholding his favor because of its embrace of abortion and gay rights?
Robertson gives these right-wing catholics a run for their money in the way he tells his people voting for Kerry is like voting for damnation. Suddenly, he has taken a very curious turn indeed. He has revealed to the world that Bush told him there would be no casualties in Iraq. For this error, says Robertson, he ought to apologize to America. The White House is sh*tting bricks, but Robertson is holding his ground.
Doesn’t mean you’re not supposed to vote for him, mind you. Only that he should admit when he is wrong. No, you’ve still got to vote for him, according to Robertson, because he has God’s blessing. "And you remember, I think the Chinese used to say, you know, it's the blessing of heaven on the emperor. And I think the blessing of heaven is on Bush. It's just the way it is." (http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/politics/9971230.htm?1c)
I mean, who needs HBO?
Jehovah/Yahweh/G*d, in what appears to be a direct communication with the televangelist, told Robertson the war was going to be "A, a disaster, and B, messy." I suppose G*d actually said Aleph and Beth, or possibly Alpha and Beta, and I’m somewhat sobered at the thought The Man might select from all the words in all the world’s languages he has at his disposal the word "messy," but I digress.
Let me try to sum this up. We’ve got a Cardinal complaining that our nagging the Church over its sex scandals is a kind of "inquisition" and loyal defendants of the Chief Inquisitor, who believes all non-catholics are going to hell, telling catholics not to vote for a catholic candidate but for an evangelical who believes all catholics are going to hell. We’ve got a man who believes God is using Islamicist fanatics to punish us for, among other sins, permitting homosexuality in our midst telling us Christ is coming back with a sword to get those same fanatics for (apparently) carrying out God’s will. And we should vote for W because the notion of the divine right of kings apparently still holds sway in 2004.
Don’t leave during intermission. Word has it Religion has a great Act II.
October 22, 2004