1 an authorial interjection, with inexplicable allusion to melomids.
To save the world you have to understand it. That’s why you can’t just start talking about a dancing army of Popes without a bit of backstory.
* Where did the dancing Popes come from?
* Why are they an army?
* To what sinister purpose and uses are such forces put?
A petty metaphysician handwaves the dancing army of Popes, declaring, “They are: they exist: they sprang into being from nothingness, most likely, ineffably participating in the warp and weft of material existence without independent cause or creator.”
Shun the petty metaphysician!
Rather look back through time and see the roots of things; then tell yourself stories, put things in order, try to understand.
If you had a lens made from the skin of a melomid—
You might peer back through the centuries, into post-apocalyptic Rome, and (after that pitched battle shown in so many historical films) you’d see the Pilate, with Jesus at his mercy.
“I will put you in a sinister deathtrap,” exclaims the Pilate, washing his hands, “from which there is no possible escape. Then I will leave.”
“You imperialist fiend!” Jesus rages. “You won’t get away with this!”
But he would!
He’d nail Jesus to a cross, next to two equally helpless thieves, and he’d get away with it too. He’d laugh, saying, “In a few days, Jesus, you’ll die of exposure. And if that’s not enough, this entire crucifix is a bomb!”
Jesus would try to use the God Communicator, but if he hears anything, you wouldn’t know it from his face.
He’d look like he was hearing static.
So “It’s a grim situation,” Jesus would tell the thieves, “but there’s one . . . last . . . hope!”
And if he bursts into a country-western ditty right then as you’re watching—
If his heart shouts to the world his sorrow that his God has left him and some Roman has nailed him to a cross—
Wouldn’t that say a lot about the Popes?
If the thieves realize that Jesus has a better plan than they did (theirs involved number theory) and backed him up all the way? If they were a baritone and a tenor and if their song together rose to Heaven?
If Apostle Paul, Roman talent agent, would walk by just then and say, “Jesus! You could be a star!”
Then Jesus would look away, in his blood and loincloth and people who’ve just heard him sing, and suddenly all shy, and the seeds of the dancing Pope army would be sown.
Skip forward through the years.
People say that after Jesus left it to its own devices, the country-western Vatican got set in its ways. That’s why the “blue suede Pope” brought in the Vatican II with his hip-thrustin’ and his gyratin’ and his sparkling white Pope pants.
He had no choice!
The whole Church was stagnating!
And once again a petty metaphysician would leave it there. “Elvis was Elvis, and the Popes are the Popes.”
But Elvis was an unusual Pope in more ways than one.
First, he was Elvis.
And second, he kept coming back. Even after he “died.” He kept showing up, at gas stations, at minimalls, his face in your burrito—so much so you kind of wonder if he really died at all.
And then, if you were Jane, you might come up with a better answer.
If you stared into the chaos long enough, you’d start to see a pattern there.
He didn’t die at all.
Isn’t that a better explanation?
He didn’t die.
None of them have.
Popes are immortal. Jesus gave them eternal life.
The mausoleums under the Vatican aren’t musty places full of dead people. They’re like a giant rave full of ever-living Popes.
They’re down there.
And ever since Pope Joan, they’ve been breeding.
Just look at this timeline.
First, there was Pope Joan.
Then, she “died.”
Nine months later, the first cardinal showed up.
And maybe some of the other people at the tower would argue. They’d say,
“This is a crazy conspiracy theory, and there’s a perfectly rational explanation.”
“Cardinals are probably just like in those stories, a natural stage priests pass through on their way to Pope—nature’s crimson allegory to puberty. Or their garments are stained red with the blood of aliens. Or it’s all due to government mind control rays.”
Insightful minds are drawn to deepness!
These arguments would not stand.