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Your Excellency,

First, congratulations. As the Administrator for the Vatican Secret Archives, you have one of the best job titles imaginable. Seriously, that is a comic book name.

Now I know that the Vatican’s Secret Archives aren’t secret in the common sense of the word, but almost no one knows that, so you might as well run with it. I mean, you’re already subject to so many horrible rumors and conspiracy theories anyway, what with the Illuminati and Dan Brown and the Knights Templar. So you might as well have some fun with it.

The Eye of Providence.

The Eye of Providence on the one dollar bill.

If I were in charge of the Vatican Secret Archives, I’d mess with people. I’d probably start by very publically dragging the remnants of a flying saucer into the Castel Sant’Angelo. It’d help if the UFO had a prominent Eye of Providence on it—you know, that creepy triangle symbol with an eye in the middle of it that appears on the U.S. one dollar bill, among other places. Conspiracy loons are always blathering on about that thing, so I’d probably follow it by a procession of Catholics whispering a creepy phrase like oderint dum metuant repetitively in Latin. Anyway, the weirder the better.  Alex Jones and friends will believe pretty much anything you serve up.

In the course of reading about you, I learned that not only are you in charge of the Vatican Secret Archives, but you were also the Bishop of Angers!

Now I know the French pronunciation isn’t angers like we’d say it in English; it’s probably pronounced something like a-zebra, but I think you should ignore the French pronunciation and go with the English one.

If you don’t, you’d be missing a serious opportunity. First of all, it should be clear that the title would be good publicity for the Church: the bishop of ANGERS would certainly attract attention.

If I were a bishop and that were my title, whenever I entered a room I’d have a seven-foot-tall muscle-bound baritone bedecked in skull paraphernalia announce BEHOLD: THE BISHOP OF ANGERS.

Plus, if you went by the bishop of ANGERS (it needs to be in all caps, your Excellency), you could also use entrance music. (Would Faith No More’s “Last Cup of Sorrow” be frowned upon?)

Adopting this moniker would have a greater purpose, of course:  You could seriously rake in the souls at the death metal concerts.

Of course, to convert the maximum amount of souls, you’d need to coordinate your attire correctly. My next question is obvious. I know bishops and cardinals wear special hats:  Does your bishop of ANGERS hat have flames? If not, it should!

Of course, this might require you to get a papal exception for the Bishop’s dress code. Given that other institutions sometimes exempt other important individuals from the dress code, this might be worth a shot. In the U.S. military, for instance, the Special Forces have a relaxed dress code; since there can only be one bishop of ANGERS, you are essentially the Vatican’s Special Forces (notwithstanding the Swiss Guard, of course).

Speaking of, what’s with the Swiss Guard? I know that it’s tradition and all, but when was the last time the Swiss military had combat experience? No, really.  That’s an honest question. Switzerland was neutral in both World Wars, and even when they served in Bosnia, they were unarmed. These are really the guys you want defending Vatican City?

Plus, their brightly colored ceremonial outfits have to be a detriment in hand-to-hand combat. I mean, it’d be like fighting while wearing Joseph’s Technicolor Dreamcoat. If I were in the Swiss Guard and wearing one of those, I’d probably throw a punch, then break into Go, go, go, Joseph you know what they say…

Your Excellency, is that album a big hit at the Vatican? If not, why not?

I was raised Catholic, and my mom played that album all the time.  She loved the songs and because she had a crush on the actor who played Joseph in the 1993 revival, who was apparently a star on The Young and the Restless. (Thanks, Wikipedia!)

She attended the show with a bunch of girlfriends, and when she got home, I remember asking her how she liked it, and she mentioned something offhand about his loincloth getting caught and then not caring much at all about the music after that.

Huh.

Let me know what you think, and thanks,

Brett Ortler

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Brett Ortler BRETT ORTLER is a writer and editor from the Twin Cities. His work has appeared in Salon Living Ready, Rattle, Ascent and online at McSweeney’s, among other venues.

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