I have no stake in the matter of who’s the Pope – or do I? Choose a cardinal who issues a homily titled “On the Need to Gas Grandpa When He Starts Crapping Himself” – I’m sure it would sound better in Latin – and this might have an impact on the society where I hope to find myself in 30 years. The selection of Ratzinger was initially heartening, simply because he made the right people apoplectic. I’m still astonished that some can see a conservative elevated to the papacy and think: a man of tradition? As Pope? How could this be? As if there this was some golden moment that would usher in the age of married priests who shuttle between blessing third-trimester abortions and giving last rites to someone who’s about to have the chemical pillow put over his face. At the risk of sounding sacreligious: it’s the Catholic Church, for Christ’s sake! You’re not going to get someone who wants to strip off all the Baroque ornamentation of St. Peter’s and replace them with IKEA wine racks, okay?

I have my doctrinal differences with the Catholic church as well; I understand the reasons for requiring priestly celibacy, but I don’t agree with them. I don’t agree with many Catholic positions on issues regarding sexuality. Growing up Lutheran, I was gently guided away from the clanging errancy of Maryolatry. Because I disagree with the Catholic Church on these and a few other matters, I am– how do I put this? – NOT CATHOLIC. Hence I am always amazed by people who want the church to accommodate their thoughts, their new beliefs, their precarious and ingenious rationales, instead of ripping themselves from the bosom and seeking a congregation that doesn't make them feel like a heretic banging thier head on Filarete's doors. To those who want profound change, consider an outsider’s perspective: the Catholic Church is the National Review of religion. You may live long enough to see it become the Weekly Standard. In your dreams it might become the New Republic. But it’s never going to be the Nation. And if ever it does, it will have roughly the same subscriber base.

Yes, yes, easy for me to say, it’s not my church. New age of oppression and intolerance, and all that. Write me when hot-eyed Jesuits walk into a mosque in Qom with ten pounds of Cemtex strapped to their chest.

One story, linked by Blair, had this remark:

The election of Ratzinger to the papacy has disappointed the Ordination of Catholic Women who were hoping to begin a modern era with a new pope.

Habeum pap. Note: every era is the modern era to the people who inhabit it; a “modern” pope in 1937 would have announced that godless collectivism was the wave of the future, and ridden the trains to Auschwitz standing on top, holding gilded reins, whooping like Slim Pickens. The defining quality of 20th century modernity is impatience, I think – the nervous, irritated, aggravated impulse to get on with the new now, and be done with those old tiresome constraints. We’re still in that 20th century dynamic, I think, and we will be held to it until something shocks us to our core. Say what you will about Benedict v.16, but he wants there to be a core to which we can be shocked. And I prefer that to a tepid slurry of happy-clappy relativism that leads to animists consecrating geodes beneath the dome of St. Peter's. That will probably happen eventually, but if we can push it off for a century or two, good.

The name was bracing, too – all my life the Pope has been a John or a Paul or both. (I saw Paul at the Vatican in ’76, with a few thousand others, in a vast room where he met the supplicants. We were announced as a group from North Dakota, America. Following the lead of the other groups, who’d shouted a slogan upon being introduced, I shouted our school slogan. Which, unfortunately, was “GO SPARTANS.”) Benedict is an old name but it sounds new. At least my greatest fear didn’t happen: they’d choose a Pope from Africa, and, unaware with the nomenclature of American marketing, he would call himself “Urban.”

Worst day of the cold, no doubt. But it didn’t stop me from a thing – wrote all the columns this morning, took Gnat to swimming class, then went to the grocery store to buy Go-Gurt. You have no choice but to buy Scooby-Frickin’-Do Go-gurt at this point in human history, and given my hatred of that fargin’ dog and the craptacular animation & soul-hoovering television he represents, I’m not happy. Could be worse; could be “Fairly Oddparents Go-Gurt.” That cartoon has replaced Ed, Edd and Eddy as the cartoon that irritates me most, because it contains all the regular sins of tot-vid: flat animation with heavy black borders defining the characters, constant noise level, annoying voice acting, pseudo-retro theme, and crass pacing that REQUIRES! EVERY! SCENE! TO! HAVE! A! BIG! DRAMATIC! CUT! ACCOMPANIED! BY! CRASHING! MUSIC! CUES! Just as everyone took the wrong lessons from Rem & Stimpy, everyone took the wrong lessons from Powerpuff Girls. Compared to “Oddparents,” Gnat’s beloved 1937 Mickey Mouse cartoons look like a marathon showing of “Shoah.”

The day the Murrah building was bombed was a few days after I got Jasper; I remember it clearly, because he got sick right after we brought him home, and I spent the day of the bombing watching TV with a listless little puppy in my arms. Ten years later he’s at home dozing while I’m at the bookstore with Gnat. She’s finding a My Little Pony book to read, something about wishes coming true, and I’m looking for “The Third Terrorist,” a book about Iraqi connections to the 9/11 bombing. I’ve heard the author speak on many radio shows, and she’s quite compelling; she speaks in TV news show cadences, but at least they’re long-form investigative report cadences.

I’m reading the book outside in the Gazebo now, where I’m typing this – the Gazebo has a table lamp, rated for outdoors, with a nice 60 watt bulb, so I can finally read outside in the backyard at night. The book may make a compelling argument – can’t tell yet. It’s floridly overwritten, and as a florid overwriter myself I know of which I speak. But you’d think that Yahoo News would link to something about the argument, no? You’re right: pure nonsense, no real evidence, just humid ranting from the conspiratorial right. As opposed to the sober speculation about whether the US Government was involved. (H/t, obviously, to LGF.)

It’s Day the Worst of the cold; but thanks to Zinc tomorrow will be better. Time to post and curl up on the sofa and read, and get an extra hour of sleep tonight; I’ve two days of dawn-to-dusk dad duty ahead. Which suits me fine, right down to the ground. See you tomorrow.

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