Tuesday, February 19, 2013

That time I became the Pope

Here's how this plays out. The Cardinals assemble in Vatican City to elect the next Pope. After several rounds of voting whereby nothing is decided one of them gets a brilliant idea:

"Why don't we pick someone at random from anywhere in the world, and have them be the pope. We can say that God wanted it that way."

This idea at first is a little hard to grasp, but soon the aging Cardinals come around. It is secretly assumed that the new Pope would be much like all the other Popes, a ceremonial figurehead, so it wouldn't much matter who dons the robes.

Pleased by their sudden agreement, the Cardinals devise a strategy to choosing the next pope. "To the map room!" cries one, grabbing the ceremonial Papal lawn darts.

After several rounds, narrowing it down to the USA, Nebraska, and Omaha, they are peering cautiously at a gold encrusted dart which has embedded itself into the exact location of my house.

"Go get him!" they cry.

9:45 in the morning a shiny motorcade pulls up in front of my house. Traffic is at a stand still for blocks. Two Cardinals in full regalia, cautiously walk up to my front door and give a stern knock.

Puzzled I greet them as I would greet anyone who disturbed me before noon, hungover in my bathrobe.  Hungover me is not without manners, and I invite them in for coffee and french toast.

Over breakfast, which they all agree is surprisingly good, they explain to me that I have been randomly selected to serve as the new Pope.  Just about the time when they get to the part about it being a ceremonial position, my eyes start to glaze over and their words are drowned out by the loud internal cackling in my head.  A thought occurs to me, a grin slowly spreads across my face, then stays their as I can barely contain a deep ironic laughter.

"I'll do it." I say triumphantly, having made up my mind.

24 hours, a trip in the gilded Papal Jet, and several cups of coffee later, I arrive in Vatican City. The press is still completely astounded, it is surprising that they have been kept out of the loop so far, but no one has tweeted about it, cutting off their main journalistic source.

The white smoke. A roar from the crowd.  All eyes in the piazza, and the world, are on the balcony.

I step out in full Pope regalia. The crowd cheers, mostly because they can't really see who it is. I raise my arms for silence, and in my best Emperor Palpatine Voice say "A new power is rising!" I then laugh  in an evil manner. The crowd is very confused, probably from my blatant use of mixed fiction.  After a moment of more laughing, a stunned silence befalls the crowd.

"Just kidding!" I say in my normal voice, removing the miter and setting the staff aside. "I'm Grant, but you can call me Pope Gandalf the First!" There's a murmur through the crowd, its hard to tell what they're saying, but I figure they are nodding approvingly saying, "Solid name, that's a solid name there."

"Moving on!" I say a bit to loudly, causing a slight feedback through the Papal sound system. I put a lot of dramatic vibrato into this part. "I have been sent here as God's messenger, his chosen representative, and let him strike me down now if this is otherwise." I then pause for dramatic effect. Nothing happens. Go figure.

Again more a sea of mumbling rumbles through the crowd, something to the effect of "God didn't strike him down... like he always does every other time anyone says that. He's got my attention." (I'm paraphrasing of course.)

"Fear not people of the world, but I have been sent here to make some drastic changes to the Church." I begin, pulling out a small legal pad on which I have written a lengthy list. "There's several of these, so you may want to write these down."

Again there's a scuffle amidst the throngs as they pull out their phones, or attempt to borrow pens and pencils.

"Ready?" I ask. The hundreds of thousands of people nod silently.
"Good."

"Item one." I begin clearing my throat, it echoes across the populated piazza. "Priests and clergymen are from this point allowed and encouraged to receive the sacrement of marriage."

A sea of hands shot up from the crowd. I look up from my list. "Sorry, no questions until the end." I reply.  The hands slowly sink back down.

"Two, birth control is now allowed. Officially." I pause for a moment as a thought occurs to me. "And God forgives anyone who has used it up to this point."

The crowd lets out loose a sigh of relief.  Behind the large columns of the piazza several couples start to exercise their newfound freedoms.

"Three, the big man upstairs has told me that Leviticus wasn't ever supposed to make it into the Bible, so we're going to be cutting that. Please disregard stuff in there, it just makes things complicated." The people nod their heads writing things down.

I move on to the next page on my pad. "Oh... this is a good one. As an act of goodwill, all artwork held in the Vatican Museum shall be returned to it's respective cultures and nations." A subtle cheer rippled through the assembly, though many were still trying to write it down. The Cardinals behind me are now starting to get very nervous. Luckily, I got to have a lengthy conversation with the head of the Swiss guard on the flight over, and told them to be on the lookout. Three guards take up tactical positions behind me, just in case.

"I have reviewed the Papal bank accounts and found we have an excess of funds, in the trillions. I was chatting with God this morning over coffee and he said something about, and I'm paraphrasing here, but quote 'Cancer isn't just going to cure itself.' endquote. I have therefore channeled our excess funds into researching Cancer cures and prevention which will be made available to everyone free of charge."

At this raucous cheers erupt from the crowd.

"Yes yes, calm down. We're also going to be funding, not just the treatment, but the eradication of as many deadly diseases as possible. Starting with HIV and AIDS."

Again cheers.

"I know that other Religions don't mind a bit of friendly competition, but in a years time, the Religion that feeds the most starving children wins." I say caddishly. "And you know what I mean by winning." I add with a wink.

"He means that our Religion is the real one!" whisper the people to each other.

"So that's all for now! Lets get some drinks!" I conclude.

And with that, the huge crowd turns into a party. Food and drink is brought out and everyone has a marvelous time and no one tries to kill me with an axe, or other shooty or pointy weaponry.

And in one speech the groundwork was laid to make the world a better place.

And then I woke up.

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