by James Killough
This is a NSFRF post, or Not Safe For Religious Folk. If you love your God, and particularly love him in Mass with a tasty wafer and a wine chaser, read no further.
I will spare you more kindly than the auto da fé treated heretics like me only a relatively few generations ago. The Church’s torture racks, her burning stakes, her sticks and stones did indeed break our bones, but these words won’t actually harm you.
This riff is inspired by a discussion the other day in the comment section of my Sarah Palin post. I sort of feel that I am coming off as being anti-American and blinkeredly pro-European in these posts, but that isn’t the case. Despite growing up in Europe and the years I have spent living in various countries there as an adult, I have as many issues with them as I do with us. It’s just I’m not a European citizen; as a Ghey, I can say whatever I want about homos, but I can’t about blacks because I’m not black. Europeans are also far more self-aware and critical of themselves, sometimes too much. Americans think they’re the shit, and anyone who doesn’t agree can leave. So they need to be taken down a peg or two, have the tires of our Sarah Palin Bus Tour deflated every once in a while.
Pope John Paul II is being fast-tracked to sainthood quicker than a Bruckheimer picture at Disney. Named after a Pope John Paul I, JP II, as he must have been known in inter-office memos at the Vatican, might have had a hand in his namesake’s assassination. The only difference between the Vatican now and at the time of Rodrigo Borgia is the bulletproof Popemobile.
I was a teenager in Rome when the gay Pope Paul VI died. It was common knowledge throughout Italy when I was growing up that il Papa è frocio, the Pope’s a fag. A little research online reveals that not only was this true, he apparently turned the Vatican into something of a gay city-state by elevating his fellow queens to key positions. With all those robes, the jewels, the sashaying down marbled, Michelangelo-frescoed aisles and corridors, those lavish ceremonies and liturgies, that singing, it’s RuPaul’s idea of a Paradise Of Drag, honey.
Of course, Paulina VI knew about the pedophilia in the clergy, although he himself seems to have had a thing for strapping red-haired actors, mercifully. Apparently what is holding up Paulina’s own canonization is his love of thespian cock, which just goes to show that in Catholic heaven they are just as homophobic as they are on earth. Although, frankly, St. Sebastian? Even Derek Jarman picked up on what a flamer he must have been.
Pedophilia is one of those cultural stigmas attached to Gheys that we would rather do without, like stinginess is for Jews, or bad taste is for Jerseyites. However, no matter how much we resent the association, for many Catholic Str8s their first encounter with a Ghey was being fondled in the vestry at ten years old by some hoary old queen in a cassock. We Gheys have to own these perverted, Jesus juice-dispensing Michael Jacksons of the clergy as being our embarrassing crazy uncles who can’t seem to help themselves, just as Eric Baker has manned up about the tacky Glamazons from Jerseylicious, who live so close to him. The homo pedos are out there, they live in our state, we don’t approve, but that disapproval alone won’t make it go away.
The Italian equivalent of the expression “once in a blue moon” is ogni morte di Papa, every death of the Pope, an expression which came into question — and Italians really did stop using for a while — in 1978 when two popes died in one year. It became known as the Year of Three Popes, and it was a trip, like having six royal weddings back to back: you have the funeral, then the papal conclave to select a successor, and then the successor’s coronation. Rome was exhausted and dazed by the time JP II was crowned Prince of Apostles. But these were also the anni di piombo, the Years of Lead, so-called because of the ceaseless assassinations, the kidnappings, the terrorist attacks, which we lived with on a daily basis. The Prime Minister, Aldo Moro, was kidnapped and murdered, his body found in the back of a car in the center of Rome. I remember that afternoon very well because I was only a few piazzas away when his bullet-riddled corpse was discovered. I’d just smoked a massive spliff, so it was quite the bummer trip, man, and totally surreal to follow the hoards of Romans rushing to the site of the discovery through the ancient, twisted cobblestoned streets of city’s center.
Yeah, 1978 in Rome was quite the year: three popes, one assassinated prime minister, and a mess of other bloody messes. It’s no wonder Dad called it quits the next year and hauled us back to New York City.
Aldo Moro was murdered in May of ’78, and Pope Paulina kicked the bucket in August. John Paul I was elected shortly thereafter, and reigned for thirty-three days before he died of an apparent heart attack. While I am disinclined to believe most conspiracy theories, such as those surrounding John F. Kennedy and those whacky twoofer beliefs about 9/11, I do suspect some monkey business about John Paul I. At that time, the Vatican was deeply seeped in widespread, mindboggling corruption under a rather unsavory character named Archbishop Marcinkus, which involved a Masonic Lodge, the P2, of which most Italian politicians and not a few mafia dons were members. David Yallop’s book, In God’s Name, is a persuasive read, and having lived through those times, I personally think JP I was murdered. After all, almost everyone Yallop implicates in that Pope’s assassination ended up dead themselves.
Catholic traditionalists are moaning about the fast-tracking of JP II to sainthood, but I’m all for it. The whole thing is so ridiculous anyway, why not give the delusional what they want? These are the desperate acts of a dying institution keen to hang on to its adherents, to improve its ratings by keeping the “rock star pope” alive and newsworthy. Sadly, it won’t happen in my lifetime, but Christianity and other religions are doomed to go the way of the ancient pagan religions, stamped out by the science they have sought to repress for centuries. A fine comeuppance. If Galileo were looking down on us from heaven, which he isn’t — nor is he looking up at us from hell — he would be chuckling and saying, “told you so.”
If anyone deserves to be canonized, it’s Stephen Hawking. This is a martyr to his own body, a brave man whose statement the other day, “heaven is a fairy story for people who are afraid of the dark,” will resound and have a ripple effect throughout humankind for generations to come. As it should.
Even the notion of reincarnation has to be seen in its cultural context: daily existence on the Indian subcontinent is harsh and brutally unfair. The myth of reincarnation is born of this basic dictum from the upper castes: Do this crap, hellish job I tell you to do and you will accrue good karma in this lifetime and the next, and eventually you will be rewarded by being just like me. Like all the rest of the religious fairy stories, it’s a lie meant to subjugate the believer, preying on his fears.
The argument that there is scientific proof of reincarnation because it relates to the law of the conservation of energy — i.e., that energy cannot be created or destroyed — is specious: it sounds good, but it has no basis or meaning. The energy that is the battery that fuels your life is not proof of a sentient soul that either ascends to heaven or is recycled. You are just matter, pure and simple. And this is fine. You don’t need anything else. You don’t need to be afraid of the dark because there is nothing to be afraid of. You have no need of supernatural magical deities and other jujus because existence alone is magical and wondrous enough.
I’ll get down from my pulpit. I’m preaching to the converted with most of the readers of this blog, anyway.
Even after the collapse of the world’s “Great Religions” — a great oxymoron right there — once we are rid of the Catholic v Protestant playoffs in Northern Ireland, the Muslim v Jew in the Middle East, the Hindu v Muslim on the Subcontinent, the Islam v Everybody everywhere, there will always be spirituality of some sort, and that I believe is not a bad thing. Truly esoteric spirituality is about improvement of the self in relationship to existence, and there is only good in that.
“But, James,” you say, licking your wounds, “what about all the good religious organizations do?” To which I reply that this is, again, a specious argument; you don’t need to be a religion to do good. Just do it for its own sake because it is right. Mother Teresa didn’t need a nun’s habit and a crucifix to ease the suffering of the poor and the dying. In any case, she was apparently a bit of a shrew who demanded conversion to Christianity on deathbeds in exchange for hospice. And there’s no good in that.
As to my fellow orthodox atheists, I say this: get off your high horses, stop sneering. The writing is on the wall. It’s over for the religious; there will be a slow, inexorable death of “faith.” Let it happen. Yes, we must remain vigilant against the injustices perpetuated by the fundamentalists. Modern martyrs are dangerous, literally explosive, but so were the ancient ones in terms of the legacy of tyranny they supported by offering their lives for a ridiculous cause. But, as those who have some grasp of the Bigger Picture, we should heed the words of Christ and do unto others as we would have them do unto us.
And just think what fabulous loft conversions all of those churches will make. Before you put a bid on the Sistine Chapel, just remember that by then the Vatican itself will have gotten real with it and become what it’s always been: a vast, corrupt financial institution, The Central Bank of Our Savior, so they’ll be keeping the Chapel as the board room.