Friday, March 07, 2008

Antichrist Given The Green Light


The Antichrist may well be “a pacifist, ecologist and ecumenist” according to Cardinal Giacomo Biffi (pronounced Beefy?), who has been chosen by Pope Benedict XVI to deliver this year’s Lenten meditations to the Vatican hierarchy. The Cardinal believes that Christianity stands for “absolute values, such as goodness, truth, beauty”. If “relative values” such as “solidarity, love of peace and respect for nature” became absolute, they would encourage “idolatry” and “put obstacles in the way of salvation.”

So the likes of Trevor Sargent and John Gormley are Golden Calves, drawing the faithful down the cindery path to damnation. Think of all those wind turbines popping up in the landscape, each one a travesty of the true cross. And all our little efforts at Greeness (recycling paper, keeping a compost bin etc.) are incremental pieces of the greater 'Absolute Evil'. How can a respect for nature become absolute? Depends on what you mean by 'nature' I guess; as it depends, in a label like 'family values', what you mean by family. I wonder what absolute goodness looks like when it's at home, apart from the Pope that is. Would the Cardinal's absolute truth and beauty be similar to Keats's? Is that all we need to know? Roll on that old red wheelbarrow, on which so much depends, endlessly.

I enjoy these kinds of warnings though, the voice of doom that gives everything a loooong shadow. In a similar vein, I enjoy a good horror story, the kind where we might find the unwary city slicker taking a wrong turning through middle America, tuning in to the voice of some lean, hollowed out preacher spitting hellfire; or coming across those Wayside Sermon posters you see up North, as in the photo above, taken near Bangor.

Apparently, according to a Vatican source, Cardinal Biffi may have been chosen because his “verbal fireworks” would keep his listeners awake. I can see it: the sleepy cardinals of the Vatican hierarchy shuffling in to listen to their Lenten meditations, one of them nudging his neighbor: 'Hey, cheer up, I hear old Biffer is going to give a killer sermon tonight, Abortionists, filthy pacifists and homosexuals, and his favourite, the Satanic ecumenists... should be worth staying awake for.' Straight out of Fellini's Roma (remember the Vatican fashion catwalk?). And who can grudge them their bit of fun?

I suspect the next Antichrist will be a poet, the next Heaney maybe. We'll be able to spot him (or her) though. Unlike Les Murray's, each book will be dedicated to the other guy. It won't be TOO obvious: 'To the greater glory of Stan' perhaps or simply 'For Lucy'. Keep watching this space.

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