Let’s pay a nice visit to the pope again. We haven’t dropped in on him in awhile, and he always repays attention. Let’s see what he’s been up to, the dear man. Dylan Evans tells us that religion is beautiful, and a metaphor, so let’s take a look at some beautiful metaphors.

A pope “must constantly bind himself and the Church to the obedience of the word of God in the face of all the attempts to adapt it or water it down,” Pope Benedict told a packed congregation. “That’s what Father John Paul II did when faced by all such attempts which were seemingly benevolent towards man. When faced with erroneous interpretations of freedom, he unequivocally underlined the inviolability of the human being, the inviolability of human life from conception to natural death. “Freedom to kill is not a true freedom, but a tyranny that reduces the human being into slavery,” he added, to applause from the congregation.

There’s beauty for you. Rigourous thinking, too. Obedience to the word of God. Err – which word? How do you know? How do you choose? Are we talking Bible here, or what? The Catholic church isn’t all that literalist about the Bible, but then how does it know what the word of God is and above all how does it sort them? In other words, what’s he talking about?

Nothing, really, but it doesn’t matter, because he’s the pope, so he can get away with it. He can get away with announcing that he is in charge of what ‘the word of God’ is and with separating it from ‘all the attempts to adapt it or water it down.’ Do please take note of that phrase. He means human beings must not take thought and decide what are good useful reasonable laws and what are not – no, they must ask the pope what the word of God is, instead, and if the pope happens to be a benighted conservative like Ratzinger well that’s just too bad.

Make no mistake. ‘That’s what Father John Paul II did when faced by all such attempts which were seemingly benevolent towards man.’ Ah yes – ‘seemingly benevolent’ – but we know better. We here in the Vatican know that telling people not to use condoms, and telling them that condoms don’t work, is not seemingly benevolent but really benevolent – because that way they are more likely to die a horrible death and leave their children destitute orphans, which is obviously really benevolent as opposed to merely seemingly so. What luck that we deluded humans have churches to tell us what the word of God is when we get confused.

And then of course there’s the bit about natural death. Er – what? What natural death? The one ‘Father John Paul II’ had? The one Terri Schiavo spent fifteen years having? That’s natural?

Well maybe he doesn’t mean it like that. Maybe it’s a metaphor? And I’m just too secular and atheist and unartistic and thick to get it. Nothing like a little religion to tell us about our longings for transcendence, is there.

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