This morning the sun isnt shining, its a cold rainy day in Tokyo and Im watching you carefully, Pope Benedict, drinking coffee while contemplating your long history and complex theological beliefs, eating a toasted bagel smothered in butter and strawberry jam, sipping and chewing and wondering if this is the right moment for my long delayed return to the fold of Mother Church. Forty frustrating years outside the flock and Im looking at the city sitting wet and gloomy across the river and thinking about what you said concerning your youthful years in pre war Germany, Pope Benedict, how you joined the Hitler Youth, but only because all young Germans were forced to join the Hitler Youth. And later how you joined the Wermacht and manned an antiaircraft gun, but only because all young Germans were forced to join the Wermacht and man antiaircraft guns. Then how you deserted the Wermacht and abandoned your antiaircraft gun, but only because Germany was losing the war and all young Germans were deserting the Wermacht and abandoning their antiaircraft guns. Im sitting here chewing my bagel as business voices blast through television speakers, spring waters fill brown rice paddies, Senior fifth wheels crowd express trains to country view spots and Im thinking about you, Pope Benedict. Thinking how you entered a seminary and how you became a progressive theologian, but only because all the other seminarians were also becoming progressive theologians. Thinking how you were appointed a cardinal and became a reactionary theologian, but only because all the other cardinals were also reactionary theologians; How you became more and more conservative and deeply intolerant, but only because most Catholics are conservative and deeply intolerant; How you brought down the hammer on Latin American liberation theologians, but only because you were ordered to by the Pope. Yes. Im sitting in my easy chair watching rain hit the city, sitting and remembering how you said only Roman Catholicism is a complete religion and every other religion has more holes than a Swiss cheese, and how you followed the Popes orders when you lowered the boom on women priests, birth control, abortions, individualism, Muslims and homosexuals. Suddenly the clouds part and the morning sun begins to shine over Tokyo and Im thinking about your first words to the world, Pope Benedict. How youre only a simple honest humble man of God. A kind gentle, Mr. Niceguy, a conciliator who wants to reach out to everyone, make everybody happy, unite the whole divided suffering world in one glorious loving spiritual community. I hear you, Pope B. I hear your warm wonderful message to our sad crumbling morally relativistic planet. Others might doubt your sincerity. Dismiss your words as mere moral posturing; empty rhetoric designed to consolidate a doomed opportunistic leadership atop a dogmatic intolerant hierarchy. But not me. Im excited. Cant wait to join your great moral crusade. Battle nihilistic godless secularism. Become a dedicated warrior fighting in the immaculate cause for Jesus Christ. Have my name written in Heaven. Have the gates of Heaven opened by JC himself. Because you see, Pope B, I hunger for clear objective certainty, crave unambiguous moral absolutes. Want to return to the good old days when everyone knew exactly where they stood. Im tired. Tired and frustrated by all this wishywashy postmodern scepticism. Its time to get back to rock hard unquestionable truth. Return to solid infallible teachings and indisputable sovereign doctrine. I admire a strong forceful leader. A man whos not afraid to speak his mind. To say one thing and do the exact opposite. To see which way the winds blowing and go with the flow. To reverse his most cherished ideas and ignore his most deeply held principles. To cut and run whenever its to his advantage. Leaders like you dont come along every day, Pope Benedict. The last century produced many, but few have appeared recently. When they do, we owe it to ourselves to fill the skys with search lights hold massive sportspalast rallies. Already Im feeling the urge to reenter the confessional. Kneel at the communion rail. Rekindle my sense of guilt and perform acts of perfect contrition. Surely this must mean something.

Tokyo Sat 04/23/05