The blazin' big headline above the fold on the National SpoonFeed reads "Vatican Shuts Down Line to St. Peter's". What? You mean there are so many people right now crowding the smelly streets of Rome, all bumping shoulders and breathing in each other's pheromones, that the Vatican actually has to turn mourners away? My god. Why so many?
It's not because the Pope was such a great man, although I bet every single flagellant, penitant, acolyte and neophyte currently attempting to form a queue thinks so. They're probably standing around right now, standing for hours, ignoring the pressure on their bladders and trading that bromide back and forth in any one of a dozen languages: He was such a great man, sob sob. Champion of the poor and so forth. Hat jokes inappropriate at such a time, please. The response to the pope's death proves to me, if further proof were needed, that DAMN we love a corpse.
That's right, we loooove a corpse. Can't get enough of that good old corpse magic. I remember Barbara Ehrenreich commneting on a tent revival that everyone seemed way more interested in the limp tortured corpse of Jesus and his wonder-workin'
bread blood than his living work (Indeed, when people go on about the "living Jesus," what they mean is the dead one). And who can forget all those bits of bone and scraps of skin littering the Middle Ages that purported to be the holy rags of some saint? When is the trade in sanctified Pope remains going to rev up? Has it begun already? Some attendant at his bedside, some sanctified catheterizer meeting with the faithful to present a vial of Pope urine, or even better, Pope blood? An exchange of holy bodily fluids for a briefcase of Euros? I don't see why not; from what I can tell, we're in the midst of a Dark Age renaissance, a resurgence of faith in the power of dead things. Or credulity.
But there's something better than a corpse. Really! It's a fetus, or a semi-comatose vegabul (the scientists call it persistent vegabulism state). We like dead bodies, but if we can get sort-of-dead, sort-of-living bodies, nearly arrived or halfway departed, then we're in heaven. Then we get the spiritual esctasy of contemplating a corpse, but we can also we get our fear and rage on over the tiny crumb of life left inside it. It makes you feel all certain inside.
I think the College of Cardinals is about to make a mistake by picking a living human being to lead the church. Actually, the original mistake was to allow the pope to die, and not to freeze him in a nitrogen bath five years ago. Because the best candidate for the next pope is probably the old pope.
Retracted on 2005-04-07::4:31 p.m.
parode - exode