Wednesday, April 13
I got my hair cut today, as is my custom at times of papal uncertainty. I drove down to West Hollywoodto see Kevin, who's been cutting my hair for 15 years, and his assistant Jeff. Kevin has a birthday coming up and he asked me if I got the invitation and I said yes and I enjoyed the picture of him in the sailor suit—what little there was of it. He reminded me that party attire was Hawaiian casual and I told him I was having a problem deciding which Hawaiian shirtI should wear: a rather attractive orange one or a more party animal number with lots of crashing waves, hibiscus flowers and natives bashing in Captain Cook's head. "Which should I wear?" I asked. Kevin and Jeff looked at me, then looked at each other, then looked at me. "Why do you have to choose?" Jeff asked. "Just bring both and change during the party," Kevin said. Then they gazed at me for a moment like I was a toy poodle who'd just done something adorable and said, "Straight peopleare so funny." I love these guys who—I don't know if I mentioned this—are gay. You know who probably wouldn't be too crazy for them? Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. As of today, he's the odds-on favorite to become the new Pope. He's also a good bet to favor a return to hair shirts. He's what they call a hard-line conservative, who doesn't like the moral "relativism" of today in which people decide on their own, guided by their divinely endowed conscience, what is right or wrong for them. You do that and some people might decide that it's okay for one man to love another, or worse, you might end up with Unitarians. No, Ratzinger doesn't go for the gays, says Godhas divinely ordained "complementarity" between men and women and believes gays would be saved if they just listened to church leaders: men who often appear in public wearing fabulous gownsand headdressesand believe sexwithawomanis injurious to their very core.

Thursday, April 14
I took my kids to SeaWorld, as is my custom at times of papal uncertainty. While watching the Shamushow, in which we are taught to appreciate our orca brother for his ability to splash the first 10 rows and shake his head like a dog, one of the female trainers and Shamu did this little number together. The woman, I think her name was Stephanie, and Shamu were lying on a deck together, nose to nose, and this romantic music swelled and the lady and Shamu kinda gazed at each other until she, well, mountedhim. And then they took off around the pool; Shamu swimming on his back, the lady rubbing various regions—known in marine biological circles as "DickingMoby." Anyway, while I sat there hoping a pizza delivery pilot whale would soon show up to make it a threesome, I wondered what Ratzingerand other conservatives would think of this, you know, since this sex was at least between opposite sexes. Is relativism okay when it's applied to other species? Apparently it's okay when applied to other priests. According to Mary Grantof the SurvivorsNetworkofthoseAbusedbyPriests(SNAP), Ratzinger "quietly scuttled a Vatican probe into allegations that the prominent founder of the Legion of Christ, FatherMarciel Macial, sexually abused at least nine boys."

Friday, April 15
Good Friday. Not great, but good.

Saturday, April 16
I don't know why I feel the need to mention this, but if the new popewere to take the name of, say, Benedict, it may be because he's trying to soften his image as a hard-liner by associating himself with Benedict XV, who reigned from 1914 to 1922 and was seen as a liberal force following PiusX,who implemented a sharp crackdown against doctrinal "modernism" such as drinking unspoiled milk and thinking.

Sunda, April 17
I've been having conversations with some Catholic friends about the next pope, including an idiot who keeps saying that if Ratzinger is elected he'll probably take the name Pope Nooorm!which is stupid because he's referring to actor JohnRatzenbergerof TV's Cheerswho didn't play Normbut Cliff. You remember Cliff; big know-it-all that nobody could stand, intolerant of other views and never able to admit he was wrong. Yeah, fat chance the cardinals would elect a guy like that. Nope, this is the 21st century. We move forward! Newspapers say we may get a Pope from South Americaor Africa, where the Church is booming. Now, we're not idiots, we know whichever new guy gets in, even if he's a "progressive," that progress is a relative term in the Catholic Church, where change is incremental. Witness the fact that Norberto Rivera Carrera, archbishop of Mexico City, has been discounted as a candidate because he's too young. He's 62. See, the CatholicChurchdoesn't move with the lightning-quick speed of less byzantine operations, such as the SovietUnionor continental drift. Anyway, my friends and I agree we're all excited for this new pope and that, just like John Paul II, we won't listen to him either.

Monday, April 18
Awwww,snap!Well, if there was any concern the Church was heading back in a dangerous direction, it was all laid to rest today as Cardinal Ratzingershot himself in the miter. Delivering a homily at Mass he warned, once again, about relativism and said that "Having a clear faith, based on the creed of the church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism." Are you kidding me? No way in today's climate, where fundamentalists of all stripes are besieging the good people of the world from inside and out, would the cardinals elect a guy like that. Not after PopeJohnPaulIIwent out of his way to reach out to other faiths, to apologize to Jewsfor Catholic failings in their regard and especially at a time when religious intolerance on the part of all major religions accounts for—let's see, carry the four, bring down the two—ALL the misery in the world today. Last year, Ratzinger said Turkeyshould not be allowed to join the EuropeanUnionbecause, as a predominantly Muslimcountry, it was "in permanent conflict" with Europe. In the 2000 document "Dominus Iesus" (Lord Jesus), he branded other Christian denominations as deficient. That's not cool, man, though I would be the first to admit that many Christians are deficient. Still. Nevertheless.

Tuesdau, April 19
This must make all the other religions so jealous. I just turned on the TV, and every major channel has its cameras trained on the scene in St.Peter'sSquareas news comes that a new popehas been selected. I mean, when other religious leaders are elected, where do they do it? A Red Roof Inn? Hey, we're the Oscars of organized religion! It almost makes all the sexabuseand Nazicollaborationworthwhile. Anyway . . . oh, hey, they're parting the curtains and the deacon dude is about to come out to read the name of the new pope and I'm actually catching in my throat. You know what? I'm really excited. This is a new day. A day to build on what JohnPaulIIstarted. You know what, when they announce who it is, I'm going to get down on this rug, on my knees, and pray. Because that's going to be my new thing, I'm going to pray now. Not one of those Rev. Ike, gimme a Buickprayers, but more a contemplative, vaguely Buddhistthing to help usher in this new era of greater understanding and love between all God's religions and peoples. Oh, come on, come on, be the African, be the African, be the Africanand I will kneel right on this rug—the part the goddamn dog hasn't chewed up—and I will . . . oh, the deacon's saying his thing and the new pope is . . . awwwwChrist!



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