I’m trying to wrap my mind around the possibility of our putative Presi-Dunce as a later-life convert to Catholicism, perhaps following the example of his diplomatic mentor/erstwhile poodle Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of Great Britain, but it doesn’t quite compute.
Nay, it’s nearly unimaginable. Unless perhaps the Bushling was actually swayed by the pope’s mesmerizing hospitality – the pontiff leading a pie-eyed GWB to the Vatican’s heavenly inner sanctum, then showing him the secret shrine, holiest of holies, illuminated by acres of gleaming gold.
Can you spell G-E-N-U-F-L-E-C-T?
And yet, one may wonder about the hapless-cum-hopeless leader of the free, and not-so-free world – is Bush 43 indeed already soulless as well, and facing certain eternal damnation, as his most vitriolic political enemies would suggest? Or is he merely planning to secure his perpetual place in the afterlife now that his catastrophic White House career’s rapidly spinning to a close?
Hard to say.
Although I was under the impression Bush-Wah’s already compelled to exclusively kissing ONLY Dick Cheney’s ring – rumored much larger and even more spectacular than the pope’s – I personally know how powerful a force Catholic Envy can be, since I grew up that way myself in New Jersey, yearning to trade my Jewish guilt for after-school Catechism lessons.
Recently, “Jake the computer-repair guy,” not his real name, induced me to accompany him to a Latin Mass in the Philadelphia suburbs before he would even consent to fix my laptop’s broken printer. Every Sunday, “Jake” still attends Mass, despite the sex scandals. He’s a true loyalist. Lately, he had discovered a breakaway neo-traditionalist Catholic Church in a bleakly working-class Pennsylvania town.
What could I do but say yes? I really wanted my printer fixed, and besides, I didn’t mind church every once in a while – there was a spiritual space in my schedule.
To be totally truthful, I confess I was once really in love with the idea of becoming Catholic as a kid. I actually read “The Song of Bernadette” through twice and wanted to be the first Jewish nun – well, at least the first Jewish nun from my hometown. Later on, after college, I was baptized Catholic at a party. Don’t ask!
But compared to Reform Judaism’s dictate when you die you “go with God” – far too vague, flimsy and insubstantial for my tastes – Catholicism seemed to me at that stage of my life like unit pricing at the supermarket, specific and direct. I always said I wanted to know not just the neighborhood but the street name, the address and yes, the house number.
Anyway, Jake shows up on my doorstep at 8:30 a.m. and we’re off. It’s just a short drive out past the airport into some slightly industrial terrain. “I have to warn you. People around here are weird. See, you know we’re in weird country. Look. Political signs for Ron Paul,” he says, pulling into the church parking lot. I shrugged. To me, Ron Paul’s libertarian political views really aren’t weird at all. Not that I’m a libertarian. Me, if I leaned any further left, I’d fall over.
As we exit Jake’s car, he hands me a Kleenex tissue. “Here. I forgot to mention. When we get inside, women must cover their heads.” I forswear the proffered tissue, instead draping my teal-blue chenille scarf over my head as we enter the front doors of the small plain pointy Gothic structure, its vaulted ceiling of exposed beams.
We’re ushered to our seats. Most of the congregants are families, mothers and fathers and children, all spiffed up in their simple Sunday best. The Mass seems endless. There’s frequent kneeling, standing and sitting on cue, lots of up-and-down – hitting home the notion of submitting to the will of the Lord. I can’t say the priest gave much of a sermon. At a certain point, my spine stiffens to hear him mention “the Jews” in a pejorative way. Although it makes me uncomfortable, no one else seems to notice.
Afterwards, you can buy coffee or tea, doughnuts, hot dogs, fresh diced tomato salad, roast chicken legs, in another part of the building. I make Jake get me a doughnut, and since I almost never eat one, it’s nearly a religious experience.
Now I almost understand why my old Catholic friend, “Krasinska,” not her real name, once converted to Judaism supposedly so she could play Mah-Jongg. Will Bush-Wah do the same for a steady supply of superior – and possibly sacred – doughnuts? Ya never know.