Sunday, April 08, 2007

Let's Ask My Friend, The Pope: Part I

NOTE: This is an excerpt from a piece of non-fiction that I'm working on. Because of the overall length, I'm only posting about half of it tonight. Thought it may sound like I'm building a case for Catholicism, I'm really not. Tonight is just prep-work. Lord willing, I'll make my intended case next week.

Before he and Steve Jobs co-founded the Apple Computer Company in 1976, Steve Wozniak experimented with electronics that were a little less legal than the Apple II. One device, called by the seemingly innocous name "Blue Box," could be used to bounce a telephone call around the world, without charge. For kicks, he disguised his voice to sound like that of Henry Kissinger and tried to reach the Pope in Vatican City. The call was answered by one of the Holy Father's head men, and Wozniak was informed that His Holiness was asleep. Sadly, after all his efforts to manipulate the telephone company's technology, his fun little prank was canned by a flesh-and-blood priest.

But the question remains: What did Wozniak intend to say to Pope Paul VI? While I doubt he would have wasted the effort on something as juvenile as "Is your refrigerator running?" I don't think he had a question about the catechism's stance on perpetual virginity, either.

Or maybe he did. Maybe the whole scheme--the illegal blue box, the hours of telephone time, the stolen telephone company manuals--were meant to settle one burning issue that his parish priest had balked on. If that were the case, he could have hardly found a better person to ask.

In the roughly seventeen-hundred years that the Roman Catholic Church has officially existed, there have been very few misundertandings. Sure, there have been divisions and heretics, but those people didn't split off because they couldn't get an answer; they split because they didn't like the answer they were given.

All in all, the Catholic Church has a pretty effective way to deal with questions: Just ask.

Protestant churches, all four million kinds, don't have the same luxury. There is no unified head of the evangelical body--no one to answer all those doctrinal disputes that pop up at the Christian Brothers' Prayer Breakfast. If you're lucky enough to belong to a denomination with a district superintendent or a national president, you're doing better than most. This isn't a jab at non-Catholics; I am a non-Catholic. It's just a side effect of having one's way theologically.

Next week, I'll begin with this question: "But what about the first century, when the Bible was being written?" Continue with that blog HERE.

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