1. Three guns.
The Burger King is not popular in India.
Murdering cattle is a strong source of spiritual pollution. It generates tamogun, best translated into English as the quality possessed by n00bs. The pollution of this act is contagious and infects everyone who eats a delicious fire-grilled Burger King hamburger.
In traditional Hindu metaphysics, tamogun is a quality possessed in greater abundance by the lower castes. They are born as n00bs and die as n00bs. Rajogun is the intemperate quality of warriors and kings. Sattvagun is the higher quality of gurus.
The powerful cast themselves in terms of rajogun and not sattvagun because they cannot serve as the source of their own moral authority. In terms of social dynamics, that’s a no-no; it’s hard to dominate people without vesting the justification for your dominance in some external power. This is why societies often develop a division of secular and moral authority wherein one group rules and a second group, ostensibly powerless, provides them with their moral sanction.
2. The new commercials.
This entry is about a new series of commercials for the Burger King chain of restaurants. These commercials show the Burger King himself.
The Burger King presents himself as a populist reformer. He is a King who wants you to “have it your way.” On December 21, 1979, this controversial figure dropped out of sight. For nearly twenty-six years he has not been seen.
The reason is straightforward.
The Burger King had lost his moral sanction.
He could not show his face while Pope John Paul II lived.
3. Who is the Burger King?
The parlamento Italiano would have you believe that Italy is no longer a monarchy. This is a half-truth at best. Charges of malfeasance and corruption cloud the 1946 referendum against the monarchy that ousted King Umberto II and his wife Maria Jose. There is a reasonable argument that he remained King of Italy up until his retirement in 1974.
Many liberal and moderate Catholics, allegedly including Pope Paul VI—whose ties to Maria Jose are well-known—believed just that. To them, Umberto’s son Burger I became King of Italy upon Umberto II’s retirement in 1974. In 1978, the “Castelgandolfo bloodbath” cost the world both Pope Paul VI and Burger I; Umberto’s grandson, Burger II, ascended to his throne.
For fifty-three glorious days, the message of King Burger II—“the Burger King”— rang out through the world.
4. What was his message?
“I will not dictate to you how you should have your hamburger,” declared the Burger King. “I will not dictate to you how you should live your life. I am King. I will rule you. You will pay me homage. But except in this regard—you may have it ‘your way.'”
The Duke of Doubt questioned his motives, as did a number of cardinals, but Pope John Paul I supported King Burger II fully.
It was time, the Pope said, to move away from dictatorial government and the conservative principles of the “Humanae Vitae.” It was time that people should have it … their way.
If someone wanted to eat a hamburger with six pickles, ketchup, and no mayonnaise, and then go home and have vigorous sex with six pickles, a condom, and no possibility of conception, then they ought to do just that.
“It’s insanity,” railed the Cardinal of Fries.
The great Burger Face on the wall of the Sistine Chapel groaned and shook.
But Pope John Paul I only laughed.
5. An end to summer.
In those heady days the moral weight of the Burger King’s statements was immeasurable. He had an impeccable royal demeanor. He had a catchy message. His hamburgers were popular—again, except in India—and he had the backing of the Pope.
It seemed inevitable that this story would play out as these stories always do. He would use hired Corsican and Sicilian mercenaries, Burger King-brand magic tricks, and popular support to sweep aside the government of Italy. The Pope would crown him anew and he would seat himself on Italy’s throne. Opposition cardinals, legislators, and even the Duke of Doubt would find themselves poisoned, beaten, or garrisoned in distant lands.
Then, on September 28, on the night of long shadows, Pope John Paul I vanished from the sight of men.
He had been Pope for just thirty-three days.
6. The Burger King’s mistake.
The Burger King found himself between a rock and a stale bun. His grand experiment in politics was a textbook example of rajogun—governance driven by passion and ambition. (Rajogun is also the spiritual quality associated with meat, sauce, and onions.) If his support principally came from the people—who recognized in themselves the quality of the n00b—then his reign would lack legitimacy. Neither Italy nor the world would celebrate his experiment; rather, they would regard it as folly. He needed a source of sattvagun. He needed a source of moral authority. He needed a Pope.
So he made the classic mistake that Italian Kings have made time and time again.
He meddled with the papal succession.
7. The dark horse.
The Burger King pushed. He pushed very hard. He threw every kernel of good will and influence he had into the election of his son, the Croissanwich Cardinal, as Pope.
On October 16, the dark horse candidate Karol Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II. The Croissanwich Cardinal, driven by a pain he could not accept, hanged himself until dead from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It took ten men and six ladders to get him down.
The nightmare of the Burger King had begun.
8. Deeds of Pope John Paul II.
Pope John Paul II affirmed the Humanae Vitae. He withdrew his predecessor’s protection from the Burger King. In Novo Millennio Ineunte, using the traditional numerological code of Popes, he extended his formal support to Ronald McDonald in his conflict with Burger II. “We shall not be saved by a formula but by a Person,” he said; and to a student of Biblical prophecy, his language could not have been more direct.
From the first days of Pope John Paul II’s reign, the Burger King’s power began to wane.
9. Assassination attempts.
The first assassination attempt came in early May, 1979, when Zilo Vassilev conjured “the E. Coli Equalizer” to destroy the Burger King. The E. Coli Equalizer was a former agent of a shadowy government agency. He wore a wig with strands of giant escherichia coli bacteria instead of hair. He had a gun. Burger II was able to defeat him with a magic trick. The second assassination attempt came in December, when John Paul II’s rejection of liberal theology made the parlamento Italiano bold. They hired Bad Potato to take the Burger King down, and Bad Potato very nearly did.
Burger II was too visible and too isolated. If he stayed in the public eye, it was going to mean his death.
So he hid; and for more than twenty-five years, we have not seen his face.
10. The man behind the mask.
Now the Burger King has returned.
It is 2005, and King Burger II is old. He wears a mask depicting his younger self’s face. (One can only assume that he is horribly scarred.) The Burger King appears in commercials with scantily-clad maidens and Darius Rucker. In a moment of biting pathos, he mutely extends a silver plate and “Croissanwich” to the actor representing the Everyman.
He appears in public because no one dares to kill him now.
Pope John Paul II is dead. The new Pope may support Ronald McDonald, but then again, he may not. He may stand with Burger II. He may support the Burger King’s cause. He may declare that, once again, we should have it “our way.”
Until the white smoke rises, King Burger II is safe.
Until the white smoke rises, or the thuggees come.