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Papal Conclave Day One: Secrecy Oath, Black Smoke and 50 Shades of Gray Smoke

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Well today the Cardinals of the Catholic Church entered into their first day of sequester, I mean Conclave which is kind of like sequester but easier to spell. The Cardinals who had completed a number of meetings last week in preparation for the Conclave and today after the completion of the Mass, lunch and a no host bar, entered the Sistine Chapel. Amid the solemn choral sounds of the Vatican Men’s Chorus and Madonna the Cardinals took the double top secret oath of secrecy binding them to absolute secrecy with no real penalties should they break the oath. Their aides and others in the chapel prior to this also took an oath of secrecy which if they break will be excommunicated and get to spend eternity in Hell. Yes, it is a double standard but someone will have to pay if the cloak of secrecy is broken and it will not be Cardinal Roger “Dodger” and Tweeter Mahoney of the “Cardinal Mahoney Love Network.”

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I was watching the procession into the chapel at lunch as I ate my soup. Amid the pomp, splendor and mystery that surround such solemn occasions I was reminded of another solemn ceremony which I saw decades ago for the first time and watch at least a couple of times a year. That ceremony of the young men of Omega Theta Pi of Animal House who also took a solemn pledge, “thank you sir may I have another” is forever etched in my mind. But how can it not be?

After the 115 voting Cardinals swore the oath which among other things they pledged the oath of secrecy:

“In a particular way, we promise and swear to observe with the greatest fidelity and with all persons, clerical or lay, secrecy regarding everything that in any way relates to the election of the Roman Pontiff and regarding what occurs in the place of the election, directly or indirectly related to the results of the voting; we promise and swear not to break this secret in any way, either during or after the election of the new Pontiff, unless explicit authorization is granted by the same Pontiff; and never to lend support or favor to any interference, opposition or any other form of intervention, whereby secular authorities of whatever order and degree or any group of people or individuals might wish to intervene in the election of the Roman Pontiff.”

The only thing missing was the Cardinals getting whacked on the backside like Kevin Bacon as they made the oath. But I digress….

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After several hours the now sequestered Cardinals gave an indication of where the process was at. Dark black smoke began to issue out of the temporary chimney above the Chapel indicating that the Cardinals had not yet elected a new Pope. This was not surprising to me because unlike the Baseball Hall of Fame election, seldom does a man become Pope on the first ballot. But then the Baseball Hall of Fame candidates cannot vote for themselves, and don’t get a vote for anyone, they have to depend on Sports Writers. Let’s see anyone but Cardinal Dolan or Cardinal O’Malley get elected if they had to depend on Sports Writers.

Tomorrow the balloting will continue. Most experts expect that the balloting will continue at least through tomorrow evening or more likely Thursday. Actually since I am sure there must be a betting line in Vegas I hope it drags out until Friday or later. I mean what else do these guys have to do? Many work in Rome and those that don’t are probably getting per diem payments while away from home.  Besides, look at the business that it brings to the money changers and trinket sellers in Vatican Square. It is good for their economy and what is good for the economy is good for the economy.

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Could Cardinal Ouellet become Pope Bob? Eh? 

Now there is a lot of speculation on which of the 115 Cardinals will be elected Pope. Honesty I don’t want an American, European, Asian, African, Romulan or Vulcan. I want a Canadian and I want him to choose the name “Pope Bob” which I think would be very blue collar. First because Canadians are peaceful and ecumenical people who love to beat the crap out of each other during hockey or World Baseball Classic games.

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Second because I cannot wait to hear the benediction “In Nomeni Patri Et Fili Spiritus Sancti eh” at the end of each Papal Mass. That would be worth it. When I listened to the Cardinals doing their best Latin during the secrecy oath I just liked the way that the Canadians did it. It sounded right and it would make great fodder for South Park. I would love to see an audience with Canadian Pope Bob and Eric Cartman and the rest of the South Park kids and maybe even Terrance and Phillip.

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Apart from this and all kidding aside, pray for these men as they meet to elect the next Pope. After all, even for non-Catholics a good Pope can do a lot of great things. Besides the Church is always in need of good, holy and decent leaders who have not lost their souls to the institution or their own desire for power. That is possible and it has happened before.

Maybe tomorrow we will see White Smoke, or maybe just 50 shades of gray smoke, but whatever it is important to all of us who the next Pope is.

So until tomorrow,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Un-American Activities and Such…

Note: I always recommend that anyone who writes anything look at it before they go final. I took Molly for a walk after I wrote and i realized that this post is pretty much a throw away that decided to keep.  I meant to write something serious tonight but got sidetracked on the way to doing it. This is the result. 

I am engaged in un-American subversive behavior tonight. That’s right, I am not being a patriotic American. I am neither watching the NFL opener between the New York Non-Baseball Giants and the Dallas Cowboys nor the Democratic National Convention. No I was watching South Park. I won’t be watching most of the DNC for the same reasons that I didn’t watch the RNC last week, unless I decide to tune in to watch former President Bill Clinton.  However, even in non-election years I have a hard time watching football, while I observe the high holy days of the MLB pennant race. If that makes me un-American I will wear the label with pride but this does not make me a Commie.

Now I didn’t plan this, I simply forgot to switch the channel from John Stewart to the MLB channel and got sucked into a really funny South Park episode. It is the one where the South Park boys meet Jared Fogel of Subway Sandwich fame and that Stan makes the astute observation that “Yeah, it’s only in America that somebody can become famous just because they go from being a big fatass to not being a big fatass.”

Now as soon as the episode was over I switched to watch baseball on the MLB channel. Maybe later I will turn the channel to watch Bill Clinton speak at the DNC. People love my Clinton impersonation, and some find it scary.  During the 2000 election fiasco I tormented my battalion’s intelligence officer by doing my Clinton impersonation while we were deployed in Okinawa. Besides I could use some new Clinton material.

While I was stuck in traffic leaving work today I was doing my own Clinton DNC speech writing, except it was in my head because I had nothing to write with. I realized then that I need to become more sophisticated and learn to do You Tube comedy videos. However if I do the video thing I will have to get a Clinton wig since my bald scalp won’t do the trick.

That being said what Stan of South Park said is dead on right. Whether it is someone becoming famous because they were once a fatass and now are not a fatass, or because they are some other kind of uncouth reality TV slob with no redeeming qualities whatsoever there is no place like the good old USA. The South Park kids may be among the most foul on television but their satire of American culture is often more spot on than the perfidious political pundits, politicians and preachers that prostitute themselves for the big bucks by pontificating on Fox News, CNN, MSNBC and countless “news” organizations. But I digress…

Back to the baseball games and my other un-American activities. But before I go I have to say that I am not a Commie and if your mommy is a Commie you’ve got a Commie mommy and you better turn your Commie mommy in.

That my friends is how one can take a throw away post and turn it into patriotic jibber-jabber. Don’t forget it. God bless America.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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A Weekend of Surprises and Not : Packers Lose, Colts Win and Kim Jong-Il Dies; Tebow finally Loses and Padre Steve keeps on Trucking…

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Wow what a Sunday….

The Green Bay Packers who had not lost a game for a year lost to the lowly Kansas City Chiefs who had just fired their Head Coach on Monday.  It is actually fascinating because Kansas City started a Quarterback that had never started in the NLF prior to today and we facing a team that is the odds on favorite to repeat as Super Bowl Champions.  It looked like that the Pack had a clear path to a perfect season and the playoffs.  They will be in the playoffs but it possible that they could lose their home field advantage.  I don’t think that is likely but stranger things have happened.

Not to be outdone the winless Indianapolis Colts who were coming close to being the second NFL team to go 0-16 in a season defeated the Tennessee Titans today. I was expecting that they had a great chance to tie the 2008 Detroit Lions for that seemed the impossible nightmare for any team.

The late Kim Jong Il above and son and new Dictator for Life Kim Jon Un below

To make things even weirder today North Korean Dictator for Life Kim Jong-Il died today, or actually tomorrow if you are in Korea. State media staid that he died on a train from a heart attack induced by “physical and mental fatigue.” I would guess that this was due to overwork at one of his notorious orgies with Scandinavian actresses but that is just speculation, maybe he was just trying to figure out his new Facebook profile page but I digress.  Of course I could be wrong and “Team America” got him. Kim will join his pals Moammar Ghadafi, Saddam Hussein and Ossama Bin Laden on their eternal vacation on the Lake of Fire. I hope that he brought his asbestos water skis. He will be replaced as Dictator for Life by his son and self appointed heir Kim Jong-Un who is know by some as the Un-Kim.  The younger Kim is in his mid to late 20s and must be a pretty sharp guy and military genius because his dad promoted him to the North Korean Equivalent of a Four Star General. Knowing this the South Korean government has placed its military on “Extra Special Chaos in North Korea alert.”  All kidding aside this is not a good situation. We have a young man insulated from any real reality now in charge of a rogue nation with a starving population, a big army and lots of nukes.  If it wasn’t reality it would make a great episode on South Park.

Finally the magic of Tim Tebow ran out today against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.  It was a good battle but the Tebow and the Broncos turned the ball over in critical situations and the Patriots not only took advantage of every break but made their own. Yet it was a classy game. Two decent men quarterbacking NFL teams behaved with class during and after the game.  The Patriots with the Ravens losing are now in control of home field advantage in the AFC playoffs.  Raiders blew a 13 point lead in the 4th Quarter and lost to the Lions and thus the Broncos remained even with the Raiders for the AFC West lead as San Diego made up a game on both by knocking off the Ravens.

As far as Padre Steve, it was a day of travel followed by fellowship with friends at Gordon Biersch followed by doctors appointments for her tomorrow before making the trip back. Of course our little dog Molly is enjoying the long rides and trips through drive thru restaurants.  Tomorrow evening Molly will be sweetly telling me every time that she thinks that she needs to pee or take a walk down to the beach and back.  Life is good when you are a cute little dog.

Anyway, have a great final week of preparation for Christmas or whatever holiday that you celebrate or even those that you don’t.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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O Lord I Missed the Rapture Again: Padre Steve Comments on yet another False Profit Prophet

Molly Advises me on False Prophets

Well it looks like Harold “I can predict the end of the world in 3 notes” Camping has missed his prediction again.  The “Rapture of the Church” didn’t happen as he so confidently predicted and once again we have to look elsewhere for the spot on prediction of the end time except that even Jesus said that “no one knows the day or the hour, not even him.”  I think that Jesus, had it right…no one knows except the Big Guy, his “Father in Heaven.”

However as a Christian, even an apostate type as some people in my former church referred to me I still believe the Creed where it says that “He (Jesus) shall come again to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.”  Of course nowhere in the Creed or for that matter Scripture does it give a date, time, year, decade or even millennia when this will happen despite the best for profit predictions of Mr. Camping, Hal “The Late Great Planet Earth,” Jack Van Impe, John Hagee and the hundreds if not thousands of for profit prophets running about, Christian, Jewish, New Age, Jehovah’s Witness, Adventists of various types and even Apocalyptic Atheists.  Yes my friends the End of the World is a money making operation especially when it doesn’t happen as predicted.

Since I was born in 1960 there have been well over 100 predictions setting the date or year of the Rapture, the Second Coming, Armageddon or the End of the World as we know it.  It is a money making industry and the more outlandish the prediction the more money is to be made.

This time was Harold Camping’s second attempt, his first swing and a miss being back in 1994. Now with Camping having to go back and recalculate so he can make another prediction to attempt to make more money as Edgar “88 Reasons for 1988” and “89 Reasons for 1989” Whisenaunt did and as Hal Lindsey continues to do every time that he screws up.  Heck Tim LaHaye has made a mint on his “Left Behind” series of religious fiction books and movies. It’s shameful.

There is an old joke about the passage in the Book of Revelation about why there is a 30 minute silence in Heaven mentioned in Revelation Chapter 8.  The joke is that the reason there is a silence is so that the prophecy teachers can correct their charts.  I’m sorry but anyone that claims to have cracked the code on the end times is a false prophet and I don’t care who I offend in saying this. So let me say it again. Anyone who claims that they have cracked the code concerning the end times is a false prophet. Back in the Old Testament false prophets got the death penalty and we crushed by heavy stones or in the case of the prophets of Baal that Elijah challenged got turned into cinders, poof and they were gone. Even Jesus had some harsh words for these kinds of knuckleheads and he was pretty loving and forgiving if I recall correctly.

Tonight I was in line waiting to get into Harbor Park to see the Norfolk Tides when Camping claimed the Rapture was to occur.  Well it didn’t happen, the Tides won 8-6 over the Louisville Bats and up in Boston the Chicago Cubs defeated the Boston Red Sox by a score of 9-3.  The Cubs may have won but they didn’t win the World Series so according to my understanding of the end times it isn’t time.

One of the funniest things I saw tonight was a man carrying a sign which said “Worst Rapture Ever.”  Now I don’t know if it was the “worst ever” but it had to be up there, especially for those that screwed up their lives and blew their fortunes promoting this heresy thinking that it was really going to happen the way that they said that it would.  Personally despite being a pretty big grace of God advocate I think that there is a special place in Hell for those that perpetrate such falsehoods under any pretense on people seeking hope in a chaotic world.  Who knows maybe they’ll get a place alongside Adolf, Saddam and Osama in this year’s South Park “Christmastime in Hell” episode.

I think that these kind of for profit prophets do all kinds of damage.  I think that they cheapen what Christians refer to as the “Blessed Hope” something that is both hopeful and holy although it is veiled in mystery is a time where justice and mercy embrace.  The actions of such people mock that hope and drive people away from God.  In fact such predictions by these charlatans are embarrassing, irresponsible and reprehensible.

May that sounds harsh and I actually mean it to be. Camping and others like him should be shunned by any responsible person.  Unfortunately there will be more like him and others will set dates because that is where the big money is to be made, making a profit out of “prophecy.”

God help us.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Living in the Bizzaro Post Osama Bin Laden World: Another Denny Crane Moment for Padre Steve

Note to readers: Another of my Denny Crane moments which seem to be coming more likely, must be the Mad Cow

“Why don’t you knock it off with them negative waves? Why don’t you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don’t you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?” Oddball -Kelly’s Heroes

I love that quote and everyone in this country needs to see the truth of it.

I think that I have stepped into the Bizzaro World.  For the first time in a nearly ten year old war we get a real victory. Will killed the SOB who started it by killing thousands of our people. We do it the old fashioned mano on mano, look him in the eyes way and had Navy SEALS double tap him. We minimize the collateral damage by not plastering the place with bombs killing lots of other people. The President and the National Security team kept the plan a secret for months with no leaks that could have jeopardized Bin Laden’s elimination.  Likewise the uncompromised raid secured major intelligence bonanza including laptops, hard drives, cell phones and documents that probably have more raw and up to date intelligence from the source than we ever have had which likely lead to major victories against Bin Laden’s fellow Al Qaeda leaders and their organization, finances and maybe even their contacts with other nations intelligence services.  Such information will make it a far easier task to take the Al Qaeda organization apart at the seams. This is a victory that combined with pro-democracy revolutions across the Arab World could very well make the Middle East and the world a far safer place. There are dangers out there but this is something to celebrate so why can’t we be happy? I know that some people are but as a nation we are not a happy bunch.

We have been through two terribly long was that have cost of thousands of dead and tens of thousands wounded.  The military aspects of the wars alone have cost the nation well over a trillion dollars not counting the other economic costs. The 9-11 attacks created a massive wound on the American psyche which has been aggravated by our losses in the wars and the failure to kill or capture Bin Laden. We have given up a significant number of civil liberties in the name of security.  The collective impact of these events compounded by the embarrassment of Abu Ghraib and the “Afghanistan “Kill Team” episodes the escapades of contractors like Blackwater and Kellogg Brown and Root- Halliburton have stained our conscience. Coupled with our massive economic problems and poisoned political climate these wars and losses have beaten us down.

Rather than be happy that we finally got one in the “win column” we have become so used to losing that we have forgotten that it is okay to win once in a while.  Instead of thanking God that Osama Bin Laden is bottom feeder food in the Arabian Sea and is now rehearsing for the 2011 South Park “Christmas Time in Hell” musical joining Saddam Hussein and Hitler as they use their asbestos water skis on the Lake of Fire we are all glum or pissed off. Some are wringing their hands because Bin Laden was unarmed and didn’t have a lot of security around him and that in the heat of the moment the SEALS double tapped his sorry ass.  What the hell? Did they want a firefight that would have gotten a bunch of SEALS killed? Was it fair that he was unarmed but reaching for a gun when we capped his ass? But then was it fair to the 3000 people killed in the Twin Towers when Bin Laden directed the attack on those unarmed people?

Then there are people questioning the legality of the action. Sorry Bin Laden was a man that never stopped plotting the deaths of innocent people to the end of his days. While it might have been interesting to put him on trial you can be assured that some would have provided millions if not billions of dollars for his defense and that the proceedings would have dragged on at least a decade and that his allies would have gained inspiration from his incarceration just as they will his death.  Those who question the fact that a SEAL shot him when he was unarmed does not understand the inherent danger in the action and split second decision making that went into that courageous man’s decision to kill Bin Laden.  Legally Bin Laden as a terrorist was accorded no protections under the Geneva Conventions.

Then there are the Christian objectors, those on the left that say he should have been captured and put on trial.  Some Evangelicals that really don’t care that he was killed but don’t think that Christians should be happy about it or rejoice in his death.  But I remember some of these same people smugly saying that the 9-11 attacks were “God’s judgment on the United States.”  I’m sorry but many supposedly conservative Christians are schizophrenic on being pro life. Kill the unborn it’s murder. Kill a man convicted in a state court in the United States on the basis of circumstantial evidence is okay, especially if you are from Texas where I think it’s popularity is slightly below football and NASCAR.  Have a terrorist kill 3000 of your countrymen, well God must be pissed at us but kill the man responsible for those deaths and be happy he’s dead?  Nope can’t do that we should be sad that he died without knowing the Lord. Yes it is a sad that anyone would die without knowing the Lord but this man had no desire to convert to Christianity or anything else. He was convinced of his rightness and he made no move to surrender to U.S. or Saudi authorities for nearly 20 years and still didn’t in his final moments.  He made his bed beneath the sea.  I personally think this is simply people that need to be morally superior to others spouting their opinions rather than people that are inconsistent in their application of their faith and ethics to a wide variety of issues.

Now the politicians are making political hay over this.  Some Liberals are pissed that Obama actually had the balls to order the strike.  Some Conservatives are pissed that Obama succeeded in doing something that Bush couldn’t do and that he didn’t give Bush any credit. But it serves me well that Bush never gave Clinton any credit for keeping the pressure on Saddam Hussein and keeping him from really building up his forces after the Gulf War using no-fly zones, the UN oil embargo/blockade of Iraq and selective military strikes to keep Saddam in check.  So this is all politics as usual and once again it is detrimental to the county and makes light of the sacrifices of all that have fallen in these wars and the bravery of the SEALS that killed Bin Laden.

This really is a Bizzaro world.  When Hitler died this country got happy and that happiness spanned the political, philosophical and religious divides in the country. We celebrated Hitler’s death and the destruction of his murderous regime.  Back then we actually understood the importance of such events and didn’t wring our hands and shed faux tears when evil men perished.  But now after nearly 10 years of war and thousands of causalities we get the perfidious bastard that started this and our collective jock straps and panties are in a wad. I don’t get it. The reason that we went to war is dead and we have information that probably will decimate what is left of his network and we can’t be happy.  This is bizarre and I wish that people would stop with all the negative waves.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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