I Will Be Your Father Figure
I don't know about you, but I was shocked to find out all that I did about Pope John Paul II after he died. I mean really, shame on me. For starters, I had no idea the man wrote Off-Broadway plays. I wonder, could he have had a prequel in mind for Jesus Christ Superstar? I also didn't know that the popes got to pick their own names once they got into power. Silly me just thought his name was John all along. It's actually kinda rockstar of them isn't it? When all is said and done, popes make people like Prince and Sting proud.
Sadly, all I ever really saw the pope as was this cute old man who looked like what I imagine God would look a lot like. I don't know if this is because he's the only pope I've ever known and thus the most holy man I'd known or I just have a poor imagination.
But now we have a new pope, Cardinal Ratzinger from Germany, not to be confused with John Ratzenberger from Cheers. In fact, in order to avoid such confusion, the cardinal changed his name to Benedict XVI.
I have one question about popes though; why do they have to be so old? I mean I know the worlds "old and wise" go together like peanut butter and jelly, but can't you be kinda old and wise at the same time? Ratzinger/Benedict just turned 78. According to a Yahoo article, "His age clearly was a factor among cardinals who favored a "transitional" pope who could skillfully lead the church as it absorbs John Paul II's legacy, rather than a younger cardinal who could wind up with another long pontificate." Translation, the new pope is old, deal with it.
But there are instances where age is not just a number. Most people nowadays retire at 65. But, no not popes. They start kicking it into high gear around their mid '70s. But unless you're Sean Connery, the ability to lead the world is not a quality that gets better with age. If you don't believe me, just ask anyone who remembers Ronald Reagan.
"Transitional" pope or not, why would we go through this long, white/black smoke process of picking a new pope only to pick another pope, most likely within the next ten years? Come on now! This ain't American Idol! Why can't we just pick a guy and get it over with? At least if we had a 60 year old we'd have a better chance of getting someone for the longhaul vs. recruiting someone who is closer to lying down then leading anybody, anywhere.
Which I guess brings my post full circle. What does the pope do? Perhaps it's all a smoke and mirrors position. As far as I can see, as long as he's holy, celibate, knows his commandments and likes to travel he's a gift from God.
Actually, when you think about it, John Ratzenberger might not have been such an awful choice after all.