Re: “We can profit from alternative views of the prophets”, Have Your Say, September 14.
I thank “A Bangkok Atheist” (can we call him Athe?) for his diverting anecdote about the 16th-century theologian who believed that the Holy Foreskin of Jesus Christ was miraculously transformed into one of the rings of Saturn. We need a little humour to lighten the tone of debate in these contentious times.
I once thought of writing a religious novel titled “Curse of the Holy Prepuce”. It would have outsold “The DaVinci Code” and made an even better movie. I refrained only out of fear of fatwas. You may object that the Catholic Church doesn’t “do” fatwas, but they would if they read my book.
In this Nobel Prize-winning work, the sacred foreskin of Jesus is secretly preserved in catacombs deep beneath the Vatican. Reverently called “the Holy Prepuce”, it is invoked during times of tribulation to perform miracles. Touching it has extended the lives of several aged popes and cured the diseases of others. Two hundred years after the death of Joan of Arc, the pope touched it to her mummified corpse in 1651 to bring her back to life. Unfortunately she immediately died again because she was so old.
When Franklin D Roosevelt was in his final days, the US government secretly implored the Vatican to ship the Prepuce over to touch him and give him a new lease on life; but the request was denied on the grounds that Roosevelt was a Protestant. The same plea came from Tehran when Ayatollah Khomeini was on his deathbed; but again it was refused on similar grounds.
In the 1800s, Pope Pius IX had a vision of Jesus, who ordered him to destroy the relic, now desiccated and shrivelled to the size of a pebble and black with age, but still replete with divine power. The pope demurred, saying that it was a holy relic worthy of veneration.
“Veneration, shmeneration,” Jesus is reported to have replied. “This is idolatry. I’m a Jew. Jews don’t like idols.” But the pope was adamant. Jesus too was adamant; and the current travails of the Catholic church are a direct result of the pope’s failure to heed the divine command. World Wars I and II, the Great Depression, sundry other wars and catastrophes, and even global climate change cannot be excluded as karmic consequences of Christ’s displeasure at the pope’s disobedience.
Could have made a great book, and an even greater movie.
Ye Olde Theologian