Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Habemus Papam!

"So throw your hands in the air!
And wave 'em like you just don't care!
Cuz Pope Benedict, the big one-six,
Says "hey - a lot of dudes were Hitler youth before we knew what Hitler was about."

So, we elected a new Pope yesterday. And by "we", I mean "a bunch of guys that I don't actually know." Apparently the new guy was the right hand man to John Paul II (hereafter referred to as JPII). I've heared him referred to as the "doctrinal watchdog", "second-in-command" and "the first German Pope in about a thousand years". My favorite description of him is "John Paul's enforcer". This dude was like Luca Brasi to JPII's Don Corleone. Any of these monikers is preferable to his real name - Joseph Ratzinger. Hey - wasn't that the guy that played Cliff Claven on Cheers?

I'm not quite sure how it works, but from what I understand, once a guy is elected Pope, he gets to choose his new name. His "handle", if you will. This must be a great day for the Pope. Especially this one and the last one - Cliff Claven and "a boy named Carol", respectively. I wonder, though, if this process is anything like choosing a username for Yahoo!, or eBay, or the message boards at (be cool -it's a youth message board), where all the good names are already taken, and you have to settle for something that really has very little relevance to your actual person. That - and it has some ridiculous number at the end of it, because 217 people have already had to settle for that same stupid handle. And that, my friends is how we arrived at Benedict XVI. At least he gets to use Roman numerals,... I wonder - did he have a choice?

There is some speculation that this gentleman is being thought of as a "transitional Pope". In other words, they can't go from uber-conservative JPII, to the guy who's going to allow priests to marry, and ease up on contraception, in just one Pope. It takes a couple of Popes. So what do you do? You install another conservative guy with one foot in the grave, so that you can do some politickin' in the meantime. Before you know it, it's election day again, and you can elect who you want. How bad does that suck? You finally acheive your lifelong dream of being the head of the Universal Church Of Almighty God, and you find out you're just a pinch-hitter until they put the real guy in next inning. Its the papal equivalent of pitching to one batter. I wonder if they told him? I wonder how long he'll last. I did some serious thinking on this. A reputable professor of Youth Ministry (Allen Jackson) at a reputable(?) Southern Baptist Seminary (NOBTS) teaches a handy rule of thumb for the interim period for pastors, and long-term ministers. If I may be so bold, I will apply it here. Dr. J says that the interim period should last roughly one month for every year that the previous long-term minister was in place. By way of example - if my pastor, Bro. Tommy French, were to retire, or (God forbid it) pass on, the interim period before installing a new pastor would be 46 months. One month for every year of his tenure, or just shy of 4 years! Wow. Okay, so maybe the rule of thumb breaks down a little bit, there - but you get the idea. If this new Pope is the "interim Pope" (God bless him), then based on the tenure of the last Pope, he should be in office 27 months, or about 2 years, 3 months. Now, since the only real way to relinquish the office of Pope is to die, that places a bit of an ominous countdown on Benedict XVI, does it not? By my calculations, this guy is set to expire on or around July 19th, 2007. I don't think I could live with that kind of pressure. But, if I were him, you know what I'd do?
I'd go sky-diving
I'd go Rocky Mountain climbin',
I'd go 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu
I would love deeper,
and I'd speak sweeter,
and I'd give forgiveness I'd been denyin'
you know the rest.

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