Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Pope's in Rome

POPE Benedict XVI might not be a big fan of modern music during Mass ... The pontiff, regarded as being more conservative than his predecessor John Paul II, recently condemned the use of contemporary music at religious celebrations.

ROME, 1606
The Pope arises from his papal bed, or rather, from a block of marble, carved by Michelangelo himself, in the shape of the perfect 'Platonic' bed. After dining on an austere breakfast of granite and wine, he issues out into the streets of Rome.
He utters benedictions to the street urchins as they run by. Hailing down a nearby pope-mobile - an austere golden litter, coated in diamonds and drawn by twenty muscular Nubian warriors - he offers them fifty plenary indulgences, to divide among themselves; then settles back to enjoy the ride. He waves at the crowds of peasants and merchants who flock to see him, flinging Byzantine blessings at random out into the crowd. Briefly, his progress is stopped by a passing elephant, who he curses to a thousand years in purgatory; but apart from that, his journey is quick and efficient.
Dismounting at the Sistine chapel, he passes in through a vaulted archway, on which are mounted several Latin epigrams from the Vulgate of St Jerome. Several sculptors are at work on it. He serenely scrutinises the epigrams, and offers the sculptors spelling suggestions, and corrects their punctuation (in perfect Latin: he is the Pope, after all.) The artists reply (in Italian) that it would be nice if he has any white-out handy, because they sure as hell don't.
He continues on through the chapel, cocking one ear to listen to the Gregorian mass, another ear to listen to the Franciscan mass, and feeling bloody glad he doesn't have to listen to the Dominican priests since they took that vow of silence. After passing through a chamber in which are gathered several sculptures, attempting to sing Allegri's
Misere, he arrives at his papal throne, around which is bustling an aged mater, dusting up some old, gray fragments of the polyphonic mass, and some crumbling latin phrases that were lying around the place.
Seating himself in his throne, he motions to a servant.
"Jesus CHRIST, it's dull in here!" he snaps. "What the hell's a pope got to do to have some fun? Bring on the bloody renaissance, I reckon! Eh?"

ROME, 2006:
Springing with vigour from his four-piece papal bed in one of his four papal bedrooms, the Pope proceeds to the kitchen and utters a short, but simple German grace over his American-made Papal cereal. While he munches meditatively on his muesli, he flicks on his Japanese-made papal radio, and listens to Tuscan-talkback programs discussing something that happened in Spain.
The Pope pulls out his papal diary, and makes a note of which people are to be sainted this week and their nations. Having made his notes, he sallies forth into the bustling streets of the Vatican City, at the heart of the modern metropolis of Rome.
He notes, in passing, an artist sculpting a perfect image of several nubile Chinese girls - in green jello (while a Japanese musician stands by and plays Wagner's rheingold on the harmonica). A little further on, there are a pair of buskers, imitating Simon and Garfunkel. They are doing a pretty good job, too - if you take out of the equation Garfunkel. And Simon.
Several supermodels shoot by on scooters, like they are in an Audrey Hepburn movie. Then a camera crew shoots by, on a tandem bicycle with the rotting corpse of Audrew Hepburn: perhaps a movie is being made, after all ...
Finally arriving at his offices to begin work, he notes twenty separate priests standing around his office, speaking in twenty-two different languages, and flinging their hands up and down in unison.
The Pope summons over a Somalian priest (who is the only one to have remained silent through all this, which probably means he understands more than anyone else in the room).
"You know," says the Pope meditatively to the priest, "We REALLY need to get back to good, old-fashioned traditional values. I mean, Jesus! That renaissance was one of the biggest bloody mistakes we ever made!"
The Somalian priest smiles and laughs. He finds it's the best way to get ahead here ...

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