Nobody Says It Better...
Thou shalt not kid thyself
The Vatican unveils fresh new sins, as the world just rolls its eyes. Is your name on the list?
By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
This just in: If you're an obscenely wealthy drug-dealing pedophile stem-cell researcher who drives a Hummer and doesn't recycle, you are totally going to hell. Oh please, like you didn't already know.
Hey, the Catholic Church wouldn't lie, mister. The Big Book o' Deadly Sins apparently has a whole new addendum and it looks like it ain't just gluttony and lust and murder and hot porn and witchcraft and coveting thy neighbor's way cool Flickr photo stream anymore. That stuff is for wimps. Serfs. Lutherans.
The Vatican is trying to get serious. Modern. Hip, even. Indeed, Sins 2.0 now includes taking "mind-altering" drugs and polluting the planet and creating poverty and hoarding excessive wealth and messing around with genetics and did you not see the grim expression on the face of that Vatican official when he announced the new aberrations? Totally serious. Deadly. I mean, the scales were flaking right off his face. And if you look closely, you can see God right there, standing just behind the podium like a hulking Dick Cheney figure, nodding gloomily in agreement. Mmm, the Vatican. It's like Disneyland for arthritic masochists.
Hey, don't get mad at me. These are just the rules. I don't make them up, I just report the facts. Like this one: Do you have a healthy Adderall/Zoloft/Budweiser addiction that you couple with a severe case of keepin' your uppity and sexually dangerous wife in her gul-dang place? God loves you. And your fellow Republicans. Do you enjoy a joint with your wine and a few hits of Ecstasy at Burning Man and maybe some special mushrooms at SXSW as you play with a Pyrex dildo with your joyful girlfriend just after yoga but before meditating? Say hello to Satan for me, pervert.
Perhaps you are amused by it all. Or maybe frightened. Or a bit of both. Perhaps you also note that what's remarkable about Sinapalooza '08 is not that the Catholic Church has now finally managed to recognize that drugs and pollution even exist. It's not even remarkable that a priest actually had the gall to say to the world that pedophilia is also horrible and wrong and God does not approve, and no one actually walked up and slapped him across the face, hard.
No, what's perhaps most amusing is that in this modern age, someone still feigns to have the authority to invent new sins in the first place, to perpetuate the inanity of the very concept, to torque and mold and reshape divine will as he sees fit, just sort of making it up as he goes along, expecting everyone to basically kneel and cower and kiss the ring. Is that not fabulous, in a hey-look-we're-back-in-1328 sort of way?
And yes, I also enjoyed the new sin of excessive wealth, given how the Vatican is one of the most — if not the most — gluttonously wealthy organizations on the planet, oozing with real estate and massive stock portfolios, dripping with cash, billions of dollars in hoarded treasure and unknown gems, icons, art, the solid gold vaginas of 1,000 pagan goddesses locked up in its vaults. The hypocrisy is positively comical. Epic. Makes Eliot Spitzer's trifle look like Mary Ann smoking a roach in rural Idaho.
To be fair, the church does use some of that massive wealth, once estimated at about $15 billion but likely far, far higher, to fund its various charities and clinics and community centers. But it also uses it to buy more land, to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements in hundreds of pedophilia cases worldwide, to wield frightening political power, buy favor with the Italian mafia, and to refuse services it deems "sinful," such as providing honest health information and condoms in AIDS-ridden Africa.
Despite all of that, I don't particularly hate the Catholic Church, per se. It just happens to be the finest extant example of a largely hypocritical misogynistic authoritarian patriarchy that still wields far too much power. When it comes to insulting religious silliness, it is, of course, far from alone.
It's also fun to consider, in an inverse sort of way, the great Joseph Smith, founder and creator and master editor of his entire religion, who, much like the Catholic Church, actually adjusted and erased and rewrote entire hunks of Mormonism's bylaws on the fly, just so he could, say, marry multiple women or perhaps prevent one of them from claiming certain property ownership and perhaps so he could slouch on the couch and not do the damn dishes and watch back-to-back episodes of "Weeds" on DVD without the incessant nagging from the wives.
Is that not fantastic? Is that not every male's dream? I do believe we should all try this.
"Honey, it says right here in the Good Book that thou shalt not take my Mercedes and go for a joy ride to Vegas with your girlfriends for the spa weekend and leave me with the kids." "What? Where the hell does it say that?" "Why, right here!" "You just wrote that with an orange Sharpie, just now!" "So? It's my religion! And by the way, thou shalt now go make me a tuna sandwich. Naked."
You have to ask: Do religious convulsions such as these make any difference? Mormonism's silliness aside, is there really anyone left who takes Vatican decrees at all seriously, someone who might've been hell-bent on becoming, say, a rich child-molesting cokehead with a giant carbon footprint who suddenly saw the new sins and was like, "Oh crap! Guess I'll become a social worker after all."
It's like that old joke: You're driving along just happy as can be and you glance over and there's Exhausted Urban Mom piloting the Caravan to the Gymboree, and just when you're about to ram her off the road and hopefully down that steep embankment to her fiery death as you laugh maniacally, you see it: "Baby on Board." Damn! Thwarted again.
Speaking of babies, here's a terrific new statistic: 25-40 percent of American teenage girls have a sexually transmitted disease. Isn't that wonderful? Abstinence education has been a blessing and a joy.
What does that have to do with Vatican impudence? Easy. This same Catholic Church has been lying to young women for upwards of 2,000 years, telling them to loathe and mistrust their bodies and fear sex and restrain their natural urges and not to touch any naughty body parts until they marry a pasty middle manager who looks disturbingly like their father, and only he can touch their naughty bits and make them feel lousy about their bodies because he has no clue what he's doing. Praise!
And hence, awash in misinformation and lies and the ignorance of their elders, teens follow their natural urges anyway and have uninformed, unprotected, deeply lousy sex, getting STDs and learning all sorts of damaging habits that require years and decades and far too much wine and therapy to correct.
Note to the Vatican: You want true sin? Here you go: Lying to women is a sin. Pathological hypocrisy is a sin. Half a billion dollars in pedophilia lawsuit payouts is a sin. Homophobia is a sin. Hiding those golden vaginas is a sin. And creating new sins in a strange attempt to stay relevant as your church withers and struggles and falters in the new and spiritually hungry but religiously mistrustful world, that's surely a sin.
No, wait. Check that. That's not a sin at all. It's actually just a sad, inexcusable joke.