The Moment of Truth — July 14, 2007

The Vatican Responds to Me

Welcome to the Moment of Truth: the double-stuff Eucharist.

I’m going to suggest a new name for the current Pope Benedict: let’s call him Cardinal Ratzinger. That’s his pre-pope name, sort of like his maiden name.

Just after I write a Moment of Truth taking to task “one-true-way-to-salvation” doctrines for their inherent structural flaws (they’re constructed of bullshit), Ratzinger feels it necessary to reiterate the lackwitted assertion that other Christian denominations are not true churches, and that only the Catholic Church offers the path to salvation of the soul.

No one knows why Ratzinger saw fit to antagonize the rest of Christendom at this particular time, but my readers know: he was responding to the Moment of Truth. Grandiose, am I? Why did Billy Joel check into rehab the week after I critiqued the lyrics of “Piano Man?” This column speaks the truth to power, and power is very, very frightened, my friends. So, yes, grandiose I am. Well, you come up with a better explanation of why Ratzinger came out at this moment with this particular ratlike zinger against all Christianities but his own.

Clearly, Catholics find themselves now without a pope, in the same sense the USA finds itself without leadership. I’m going to assert the “last true pope” doctrine. The last true pope was John XXIII, who led the Second Vatican Council. Since he died there hasn’t been a single pope worthy of the title except the first John-Paul, whom I’m assuming Ratzinger arranged to be assassinated.

In any case, Christendom, I wouldn’t worry about what Ratzinger says about the salvation of your souls. He’s not a pope, after all. He’s a reactionary politician. And he doesn’t know dick about the soul.

Back in Europe in the late Middle Ages, back around the 13th, 14th Centuries, if you’ll recall—geez, come on, it wasn’t THAT long ago—they had philosophers. They were actually theologians, if you ask me. But because religion was the, so to speak, medium of thought, all one’s thinking had to be done through religion, so if you were going to philosophize, it would be about God—how many He was, which of Him came first, was all of Him divine, was His mother a virgin, did she have sex with Him, and if so did that make Him a bastard, and if so, did it make Him a perverted Old Dirty Bastard, and if not did it make him an incestuous Big Baby Jesus?—or the soul—how many it was, how it could be divided, if it could be divided, where it came from, what it attracted and repelled, what its destiny was, and what it did besides sit around, undetectable, smug, unemployed, sponging off the labors of the body—to which it was SO superior because of the body’s mortality and gross weaknesses, functions and inclinations—just waiting petulantly for the day it could move out and wouldn’t have to put up with the body’s crap anymore.

The centuries flew by, and God and the soul proved obnoxiously enigmatic subjects for empirical study, so much so that the soul pretty much atrophied and God was torn to shreds, each shred waved as a flag by various antagonists in fractious wars of religious ideology. Or else He got left behind when we moved the Earth from the center of the universe to the outskirts of the galaxy.

The soul, as I said, atrophied. We didn’t need souls anymore because we had brains. Brains are better than souls in that they can be located for poking purposes, can often be reasoned with, and even get off their asses and do some frickin’ work once in a while. Also, as judgmental as the brain is, the soul was worse. It would just sit there silently while you pursued your one-sided argument, twisting and posturing and positing, finally digging yourself a hole so deep that you laid down exhausted at the bottom, and those left above filled the hole up and said some kind words and probably an incantation, and walked away shaking their heads.

And what the soul did once you were buried was anyone’s guess. Which brings up a few more complaints about the soul, and I beg your indulgence while I air my grievances, but I’m only now realizing how much that little bitch used to piss me off. I’m going to refer to the soul as “she” henceforth. The soul is referred to this way at times by the great righteous rabbis of yore; I’ve never heard the soul referred to as “he,” and “it” is just too unwieldy in a complex paragraph. But I don’t want anyone to feel I’m using my critique of the soul as an allegorical device to disguise misogyny behind a mask of metaphysics.

In fact, I don’t think women have anything in common with the negative attributes of the soul. Women, like men, work hard, if not harder than men and for less remuneration. The soul, as I mentioned, doesn’t do squat. And women are present everywhere, doing everything, and men are constantly trying to conceal them or mitigate the fullness of their human presence by scrutinizing and belittling them, wanting always to restrict them within the male-defined boundaries of their bodies; while the soul, on the other hand, can never be found, does nothing, is always sought, and those who seek her wish to discover her inner truth and set her free from the boundaries of human corporeality to achieve her full potential. In this she resembles, not a woman, but investment capital. The soul abides in an undisclosed location, accountable to no one, beyond the reach of laws that govern human beings. In this she resembles no one so much as Dick Cheney.

Now don’t get me wrong, I believe in the soul. Especially at night, when it’s dark, nobody’s around, and I’ll believe in anything: the devil, God, the wolfman, you name it. If my insomnia is bad enough I’ll even pray. “Please, please let me get some sleep! Please, please, Lord Jesus, Lord Krishna, Allah, Yahweh, Great Spirit, Kali, Bigfoot, and Superman!”

I remember sitting at the airport once, and a woman with very large breasts walked past, and on her T-shirt, over those breasts, were the words, “Got Milk?” And I thought that was kind of humorous. Then a potbellied man walked by in a T-shirt, and over his pot belly were the words, “Got Pie?” Which was even funnier.

I love pie.

Now if one or the other of them were wearing the full-body covering known as the burqa, where would they emblazon the words, “Got Soul?” Huh? There, see how sneaky that sucker is?

Yes, I’m equating the soul with food. What’s it to ya? Never heard of soul food? How about soul music? That’s an interesting kind of food. It’s produced by the soul but it also feeds the soul. Apparently the soul makes its own fuel. It’s a perpetual motion machine. A perpetual motion machine that can’t be bothered to do anything but eat its own excrescence. Soul food, on the other hand, does double duty. It feeds the soul while at the same time clogging the arteries and raising the blood pressure, thereby contributing to the premature freeing of the soul by hastening the death of the body. But ain’t those biscuits heavenly? Damn right. Heaven sent those biscuits to kill your body because it can’t wait to get its hands on your soul.

That’s right, Ratzinger, I said Heaven. Heaven wants the soul of every living human being, and there’s nothing you and your fascist declarations can do to change that. How about them biscuits, Cardinal? Listen, I have as much divine authority to make statements about the fate of the soul as you do. Because you’re not the pope, and that’s all there is to it.

I’m not even sure you qualify as a real cardinal. Why don’t you come out in civilian clothes and admit you’re the opposite of divinely inspired? You don’t look good in the papal gear, anyway. You know who would look more papal than you? Ernest Borgnine in a strapless wedding gown. He’d be more divine, too.

Give it up, Ratzinger.

This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!