We have a new Pope. Or maybe it is that the Catholics have a new Pope and the rest of us have a new celebrity. Which is good, because the pool of celebrities was growing alarmingly small thanks to that damned sequester.
This new Pope Francis is from Argentina. He’s the first Pope from the Americas. They say he is more like the common person than a Cardinal or a Pope. He gets his own groceries, takes the bus to work, posts Facebook messages with pictures of kittens.
Have heard that he arrived at his new Pope Palace with a case of those large hand sanitizer bottles they sell at Sam’s Club, a PlayStation, posters of Madonna from her Blond Ambition Tour, DVDs of the second season of Downton Abbey, a ShamWow, and a box of old records – mostly Frank Sinatra, which may explain the selection of Francis.
It was in the midst of the 24/7 mania surrounding the selection of the 266th pontiff to hold the job of St. Peter, that my Protestant cynicism of the process would turn on me.
What seemed a silly showing of older men huddling together to pick essentially a new wireless connection to God became a visual intervention highlighting the procedural addiction we Arkansans simultaneously enjoy and suffer. As Pope John Cougar might note, “It hurts so good.”
Prior to the selection of Francis, Tia Ghose, a writer with Live Science, provided one of the best summaries as to what the Cardinals must consider in selecting Mr. 266. She suggested the following five areas of importance.
• Sex abuse
The new Pope needs to be clean, be willing to remain clean, and help the Church reform its image.
• Cleaning house
The new Pope needs to have the strength and wisdom to oust troublemakers and replace them with folks who can keep the Church out of the ditches.
• Priest shortage
Not a lot of folks want to work for the Church. It’s not considered the best place to further a career in religion.
• Finding the faithful
Only 7% to 8% of Catholics in Europe attend mass. The new Pope needs to fill the seats.
• Personality matters
In this world of celebrity, charisma is currency. The new Pope needs, apparently, a dose of Zig Ziglar.
Here is the revelation that painted me a hypocrite: Ghose’s points suggest little difference between an over-the-top media frenzy of picking a Pope and the big-top sports media frenzy of hiring a new Hog football coach. The mocking of Pope-A-Rama 2013 fell flat when considering the time spent on Razorback football related message boards during Coach-A-Rama 2012.
Think about it.
The new Pope needs to be clean, be willing to remain clean, and help the Church reform its image. Replace “Pope” with “coach” and “Church” with “football program.”
The new Pope needs to have the strength and wisdom to oust troublemakers and replace them with folks who can keep the Church out of the ditches. Replace “Pope” with “coach” and “troublemakers” with “underperforming coaches and players” and replace “Church” with “football team.” Also, replace “ditches” with “embarrassment of a 4-8 season.”
See the trend? Like a Pope, a coach must increase the number of the faithful, deal with a shortage of good players and have a personality that keeps us all enthused and/or encouraged about the team’s prospects.
There are several other similarities that beg to be noted. For example, the Cardinals had to pick a new Pope because the previous Pope unexpectedly left the job. Razorback officials had to pick a new coach because the previous coach – who once coached the Louisville Cardinals – unexpectedly left the job. There is no word on whether Pope Francis owns a motorcycle.
The new Pope was paraded in front of TV cameras shortly after the official word. Ditto the coach.
The new Pope and the new Razorback coach have difficult to pronounce last names that begin with the same consonant. There is Jorge Mario Bergoglio and Bret Bielema. The Pope’s surname is pronounced, and I’m not making this up, Ber-GOAL-io. Which is a phrase we should chant when or if the Razorbacks kick a field goal in the next season. You can almost hear Chuck Barrett ... “the kick is up and, Ber-GOAL-iooooooo.”
The experts said the new Pope would come from Africa or Europe. Out of the blue, it was Argentina. The experts said the new Razorback coach would come from the SEC, or from a Top 10 team. Out of the blue, it was Wisconsin. By the way, Argentina also has a significant dairy industry.
Prior to Francis, the Pope was Benedict. Prior to Bielema, the previous coach had been a di ..., well, you know.
And what happens before the Razorback football team enters the playing field for home games? That’s right. White smoke.
There is one difference. It may be a fine option for the Pope, but let’s hope Bielema’s season doesn’t come down to a Hail Mary.