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September 18th, 2006

Theotautology

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Memo to the Pope: YOU ARE THE POPE.

Now, I'm pretty sure Ratzi knows this. He's not waking up every morning and wonder what that giant fucking hat is doing on his bedstand. But he's still new at this, so he may not have internalized every little detail of what being Pope means.

I'm referring, of course, to him pissing off all the Muslims. When I first read the news, I have to say, I wondered what possible kind of context could justify quoting a 14th century Byzantine emperor who called Mohammed's contributions to Islam "evil and inhuman".

So I did what I had to do and took one for the team. I read the speech. And let me just say this right up front. Pope Benedict is a HUGE FUCKING NERD. Seriously. I'm glad he's the Pope, because it's the only job in the world suitable for someone that into theology. Man would kill a party stone-dead, and I suspect that it's not so much a vow of celibacy as a convenient coincidence.

But anyway, I read the speech that caused the furor. OK, technically, I skimmed it, but I did skim the whole thing. It was long. It was convoluted. It was drier than Mother Theresa's hoohoo, is what I'm trying to say. I don't know how much they paid to get in to see him at the University of Regensburg, but I hope the opening act was David Hasselhoff or something.

After my mighty skimming, I have good news, and I have bad news. Because the good news is, there was a perfectly logical context in which the Pope's statements could be considered innocuous. The bad news is, that context is only perfectly logical IF YOU'RE THE POPE.

You see, what the Pope was talking about was forced conversion. Conversion by the sword. Which the Pope sees as a bad thing. So that brings to a total of two the number of things Benny and I have in common - I don't wear brown shirts anymore either.

The Pope's point is that Catholicism is good and right and true because it's based on Greek ideas of reason, and that Islam is stupid and evil and wrong because it's based on doing whatever God says, whether it makes any sense or not. And that Catholicism has drifted away from reason, and should get back to it. The Pope calls this drifting "dehellenization", which just emphasizes my point that you should not invite this guy to your parties.

You see the problem here. Everything the Pope says is correct and makes perfect sense - if you're the infallible leader of the one true faith containing within it the fundamental secrets of the universe. Outside of that context, however, Benny's just another crazy guy in a big hat telling us all we should really be worried about the inmate in the next bunk.

The Pope's no different from any other repressed nerd who's convinced that he's just being perfectly reasonable and logical and doesn't understand why you're getting so upset. Even if you punch him in the face, he won't realize what's wrong. His entire worldview depends on a version of himself that doesn't actually exist, so anyone bothered by his comments may as well accept his half-assed apology and rest secure in the knowledge that eventually he will die, find out he was wrong, and feel like a complete yutz.