Habemus Papam (in our pockets?)
Or as Jon Stewart might say, Hit me if you can find an opening. AxeMan is in a tizzy about the leaked Papal documents. He has a personal stake in the potential brouhaha. At the Millennial celebrations at the Vatican in 2000 he was bushwhacked by an Australian pickpocket. His companion thought it a very bad omen. She, a Jungian, claimed she had seen it coming. You have a tell, she said. You touched your pocket where your wallet was. She knew her stuff. She had a tell also. She told him it was all over.
And then there’s the Papal butler who had a tell, too; or rather a tell-all, and AxeMan is hot to read about it. Admittedly, AxeMan has a thing about the Catholic church. About Catholics he is not prejudiced, unless they subserve themselves to the Papal authority and try to push their line upon him and/or the rest of us in the name of religious freedom. Freedom for them against us. And that goes for the Evangelicals who are another version of them in a different suit. When he saw the opening scenes 0f Habeus Papam, all those marching cardinals, mostly old and white, but not all, in medium closeup, cloaked in red, hatted in red, solemnly swaying in unison as they proceeded up the marble stairs in the Vatican, he felt hands around his throat. (Spoiler Alert) The hands were finally released when the newly elected Il Papasaid fuggedaboutit.
AxeMan recently had a dinner guest from the Euro Zone. Deeply concerned about the state of the economy in her own country (not France) and the possibility of Americans electing Mitt Romney (inconceivable to her) she told a story about a conflict she had while driving in the mid-west with an American academic colleague during the Reagan-Carter election. She was supportive of Jimmy Carter, though she
could not vote. The colleague was less so. On and on he went about Carter’s ineptness. Finally, totally frustrated and angry,
she yelled, “Okay. You have on the table a plate of lentils and a plate of shit. Maybe the lentils are over or undercooked. Maybe they need salt, maybe they need some pepper, but they are lentils. Lentils! You have a plate of lentils and a plate of shit. And you are starving. Which do you eat?AxeMan thought this could be good to keep in mind during the next several months. He recalled a time when a venerable old labor leader he’d had a great deal of respect for said, “There’s no difference between the Democrats and the Republicans.” He also said, “Not voting is a vote. Nader is saying the right things. If he fucks it up for Gore, then tough shit.” Friends of the labor leader had actually asked him to try to talk Nader (whom he knew well), into dropping out of the race. “I’m not getting involved,” he said, “and Ralph doesn’t listen.” So AxeMan is thinking; in 2000 Gore lost Ohio because he was afraid of the environmentalists (How weird is that?). He didn’t carry Tennessee, his home state. And he lost Florida to the butterfly ballots and the Supreme Court. Ohio alone could have won him the election. There’s shit, there’s tough shit, and there’s lentils. AxeMan likes the President, as does the guest from the Euro Zone. And though he is a little fussy about his lentils; Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose?
AxeMan would like to nominate the Nobel Piece Prize to Maureen Dowd for her relentless assault on the Papacy. Since he himself is not a Catholic, or anything else, really, he has no credibility for his own animus. But, since he is only an alter-ego, he takes his liberties where he finds them, unlike the Bishopric(ks) who take only prisoners and give zero liberties to those who question their authority.
So AxeMan is thinking, Why don’t American Catholics start the American Catholic Church, and they could begin by censuring (or even excommunicating) Cardinal Timothy Dolan. (Here’s why) On June 18th a contingent of American nuns will begin a nationwide bus tour in protest of a brutal assault from Rome and their American Bishopric(ks). This is reported in America: The National Catholic Weekly. Go girls! And boys!
“Fighting about religion is like arguing over who has the best imaginary friend.”
Yep, that Yassir Arafat. AxeMan has, reluctantly, returned his (very best) imaginary friend to Philip Guston, the rightful owner. AxeMan discovered Arafat’s little morsel in an online comment to Bill Keller’s must read op-ed piece on June 17 about Roman Catholicism; The Rottweiler’s Rottweiler. If only AxeMan could stop fighting. But for quite some time he has been calling himself the A-word. He’s pretty sure The Creator put him up to it, but he had to ask. “Am I really an atheist?” “Do you want to be?” said The Creator. “I have read a lot of books where the G-word is prominent, and quite often it has acted in bad faith or in the name of it. But why do you want to know?” “Because I want people to like me,” AxeMan said. “So stop asking questions.” AxeMan is thinking about all those ultra orthodox people in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where he spends a fair amount of his time…
… enough to have to growl at those little boys in black suits who touch him on his arm and ask, “Are you Jewish?” Sometimes he responds, “Are you? I hear your families are so big you have to get welfare. That doesn’t sound Jewish.” Have a nice day, they say. So he asks The Creator, “Am I Jewish?” The Creator says, “You have more Jewish sap in your grain than Elisabeth Warren has Cherokee, or whatever she’s calling herself.” “But no Christian?” AxeMan says. “Absolutely not!” “Good,” AxeMan says, “because there’s a bunch of weirdos up in Hudson. They hang out in front of Planned Parenthood every Wednesday across the road from a creepy church. I wouldn’t want to be associated with any of them.” The Creator pauses. “But we do have a little Mormon problem. I think they may have baptized my mother after she died. They go after dead Jews, and they may try to get you. But trust me, you are an Atheist. Live with it.”
AxeMan journeyed to Woodstock in the summer of 1971 for the express purpose of returning his imaginary friend (see prior post) to its rightful owner, Philip Guston (seen in the company of Phillip Roth, at left). The two cranky guys were plotting a vengeful act against their arch-enemy, Richard M. Nixon. At that moment, it is also possible that Roth was brewing his own alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman, a Jewish boy from Newark who would enter the literary world as an alter-alter ego with the moniker of Peter Tarnopol in My Life As a Man in 1974. About this, AxeMan knows nothing. Not even enough to ask. But now, as he begins to address serious identity problems, the time may be at hand. The clamor of his religious identity has already been broached. He, unlike Zuckerman, has been cast as an Atheist. And now he has another, far more complicated, piece of his identity to explore; a facet that The Creator has been loathe to entertain publicly, and certainly not to the degree that Roth has.