Hello and welcome to The Gods Are Bored! If you happen to be in the Philadelphia area on Saturday, come share a drum circle with me at 3:00 in Clark Park! Yes, and if you can really drum, I sure could use your help!
My last sermon concerned a scheduled visit from His Holiness, Pope Francis, to Philadelphia. The pope will be here from Friday evening until Sunday evening. And basically the city is grinding to a halt to cater to him.
EXHIBIT A: POPE PIZZA BOX FROM VENTNOR, NJ ... YES, THEY CATER!
Crowd estimates have been hard to come by. Some are as high as two million. Some favor 60,000. Well, that's a big difference, right?
I guess reality has caught up with Philadelphia -- and the pope. Today, out of the blue, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (had to look up how to spell it) announced that people would need tickets to get close to the pope. Independence Hall, where His Holiness will deliver some sort of speech, is releasing 5,000 tickets at 9:00 Friday morning, online only.
So much for democracy.
What the heck happened? This was a chance for anybody to see the pope! All you had to do was rent a hotel room, or someone's house, and stroll out on the day of the event, and there he would be!
Nobody asked me, a practical Pagan, to make suggestions about the pope's visit. I'm not sure why they didn't come to me for advice, because, after all, I spent a memorable 12 hours with Isaac Bonewits and Skip Ellison a few years back, so I know all about communing with holy leaders of religious affiliations. My suggestion would have been to announce tickets way ahead of time. Knowing the basic size of the crowd might have saved a lot of people from being put out for a whole weekend.
This afternoon I heard on the radio that many of the booked-up hotels have been seeing a tidal wave of cancellations. I imagine the same might be happening to the good citizens of Philly who put their residences up for rent (at widely varying prices). Nothing could possibly soften the blow of learning that your prospective renters -- who were going to give you $8000 for your efficiency on Walnut Street just so they could see the pope -- have decided to go to Tahiti instead.
This was a bait and switch, pure and simple. People are finding out now that their chances of celebrating Mass with Pope Francis are slim to none. Meanwhile, there's been no talk of scaling back the mammoth road closures planned for the Delaware Valley on Pope Weekend.
I would hate to be a Roman Catholic today. I really suck at being the first in line online, so it would be really, really frustrating for me to think that a man I revere could be six miles away ... without me being able to see him.
If for no other reason than this, being a Pagan is wonderful. If you admire a particular leader in any of our many Paths, chances are you can rub elbows with that person as soon as you want, for as long as you want. Size matters.