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I lead a church whose priests are pledged to celibacy. Nowadays we seem to get no one but gays, and the situation has gotten out of hand. Lawsuits about sex abuse are driving parts of my organization into bankruptcy, and now there are pictures all over the Internet of priests fondling each other at an Austrian seminary. What can I do to keep the gays away?
Red-faced in Rome
Have you considered giving the Church an anti-queer makeover? Lose the chic black outfits, and instruct your priests to wear plaid polyester instead. No self-respecting gay male will go near you.
If you don’t want gay priests, why go out of your way to recruit them? I refer to a report that appeared on April 29, 2000, in The Guardian of London under the headline “Vatican takes a walk on the wild side”:
“The Vatican has announced that rock music is not diabolical on the eve of a May Day concert headlined by Pope John Paul II and the embodiment of sex, drugs and walking on the wild side, Lou Reed. Signaling detente after decades of mutual loathing, the Vatican will on Monday allow a papal Mass in Rome to mutate into a rock concert.”
The Guardian referred, of course, to Lou Reed’s signature song, “Walk on the Wild Side,” whose subject is transsexual prostitution. An excerpt from the text follows:
“Holly came from Miami f.l.a.
Hitch-hiked her way across the u.s.a.
“Plucked her eyebrows on the way
Shaved her leg and then he was a she
She says, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side
“Candy came from out on the island
In the backroom she was everybody’s darling
“But she never lost her head
Even when she was given head
She says, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side.”
If you need that sort of thing to lure young people to Mass, what do you expect? As ye sow, so shall ye reap. Christianity cannot swallow the camel of popular culture without busting its innards. I have argued the same thing in the case of American evangelicals’ embrace of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ film (Mel Gibson’s lethal religion , March 8). To Muslims, the pictures from St. Poelten Seminary suggest a senescent civilization ripe for conquest.
I do the hiring and firing for a global hyperpower. Last year I invaded an Arab country in order to build the first Arab democracy, but what do I get? They shoot at my soldiers, they set off bombs, they shoot at each other – they are driving me crazy! How can I achieve my dream of building an Arab democracy?
Puzzled on the Potomac
You seem insensitive to cultural differences. Not everyone does things the way you do. Have you ever seen an Arab democracy? How do you know what you are looking at is not an Arab democracy? If you call it an Arab democracy, can anyone prove that you are wrong? The European governments insist that the Palestinian Authority is an Arab democracy, for example, and honor Yasser Arafat as an elected head of state. Why not follow their example, and declare victory? Perhaps this is as good as it gets.
Recently I became prime minister of a Middle Eastern country that had just undergone an invasion by a hyperpower. Soldiers of the hyperpower and its allies still occupy us. Everywhere I look, I see chaos. Where should I begin?
Muddled in Mesopotamia
Learn from the experts, of whom Yasser Arafat is the most sage. Chaos is your friend, and no one swims more adroitly in troubled waters than the Palestinian leader. An enemy’s praise is sweet, and here is high praise to Arafat from an Israeli intelligence site, www.Debka.com:
Three abductions were staged in the Gaza Strip in a 10-hour period on Friday, July 16 – first the venal and hated Gaza police chief Ghazi Jebali, followed by the southern military coordinator, Khaled Abu Aloul, and lastly, four of five French aid workers … They were all freed within hours and none hurt.
The next day, as [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon’s office crowed that these events proved how necessary it was to speed up his unilateral evacuation, Arafat struck with lightning speed: he rid himself of Palestinian prime minister, Ahmed Qureia, who had been forced on him in the first place, purged the top ranks of Gaza Strip national security and installed his own men.
By nightfall Saturday, Arafat was in absolute command of the territory. His nephew, Mussa Arafat, chief contractor of the Rafah smuggling tunnels from Egypt, was named head of national security forces in the Gaza Strip.
When he handed in his cards at the emergency cabinet session in Ramallah Saturday, the second short-lived Palestinian prime minister complained that the chaos in the Gaza Strip was unprecedented. For Arafat, this milieu is meat and drink.
Stability, I long have argued, is a mirage in your part of the world, and those who pursue it will perish. Arafat has survived longer than any other leader in the Middle East because chaos is his natural element. As Mephisto said to Faust,
“… all things you have rendered
By terms like sin, destruction – evil, in brief
Are my true element-in-chief”
(Walter Arndt’s translation).
The old imperial powers understood this; a proverb on the Euphrates once had it, “If two fish fight in the river, the English are behind it.” Chaos lurks at the heart of imperial rule, and the true imperialist employs it to his advantage. Americans are not imperialists by nature; that is, they are both too generous and too ignorant to run an empire. Do not count too much on them. At some point they will declare victory and go home.
I have done my best to emulate Yasser Arafat, and all I get for my troubles is a lousy cave in western Pakistan. As the chief executive officer of a global conspiracy to restore the Islamic caliphate, I have had to kill a few thousand people here and there, but Arafat has killed far more people than I have. He is treated like a head of state, while I am hunted like a criminal. Where did I go wrong?
Worried In Waziristan
Your error is obvious. Arafat only kills Jews.