The widening schism

Once, there was a cashier. She was very charming, pretty, talkative, and almost pruriently “caring.” Her one little foible appeared to be: no good at arithmetic. A small transaction she was likely to get right, but if it were large, or there were many items, a mistake was inevitable. A complicating factor was, she’d forget to print receipts.

Few people of generations after mine count their change (now they use cards) so there were few “issues” at the cash register. In the one memorable “scene” I witnessed, she apologized to the customer even before recounting, with a torrent of self-deprecation for her poor math skills. The complainer was boorishly suspicious; so much so, that he was berated by another customer, for being rude. Also, he was old, and ugly.

Being of the Scottish genetic persuasion, I always count my change. I am willing to correct even small mistakes, and as a consequence, soon found this young lady’s arithmetic improving. But before it had improved, I had noticed a pattern. Every mistake was in the store’s favour.

Myself characteristically suspicious, I began to think the girl was actually quite good with numbers — especially if she had to keep in her head a running tab of the amount to subtract from the till, at the end of her shift.

Does this sort of thing happen a lot in our commercial culture? I’m inclined to think, no, because thanks to technology, we raise kids who are genuinely innumerate, crippled without a calculator (sometimes even with one) and, because they are semi-aware of their limitations, not ambitious to cheat anyone. The exceptions, as I see from the meejah, are on the very large scale. (Perhaps those perpetrators were home-schooled.)


Sadly, I have developed the same suspicious attitude towards the Vatican, and the incumbent Bishop of Rome. He makes little mistakes in Catholic doctrine, and sometimes berates himself, or has a department “clarify” his statements. A dear old man, as we are frequently assured, some essential of Catholic teaching may have skipped his mind. But I notice that the errors, whether major or minor, are consistently on one side: the “progressive” one.

Perhaps he forgot that we do not pray to, or through, pagan idols. I am giving just one instance here, I could fill this antiblog with others. Wooden statues of something called a “Pachamama” — an old fertility goddess of the Inca from the Andes, now mass marketed in Latin America — somehow wound up in a Roman church. They had appeared in a pagan garden ceremony described (by an emeritus bishop of the Amazon) as a “demonic sacrilege.” There was toying with sacred “symbolism” throughout the egregious “Amazon Synod,” which ended yesterday. Further, perhaps forgetting that he is the “symbolic” head of the Catholic Church on Earth, our Roman bishop defended his Pachamamas, and apologized for the behaviour of the boors who had taken and dumped them in the Tiber River.

Surely gentle reader has read the whole story. As meejah reports go, it was fairly simple and straightforward, not complicated like the reasons the Roman Church insists on the unmarried chastity of her priests, on the maleness of them, and on the fact that the Church “phased out” anything resembling priestesses in ancient pagan Rome (where they were quite common, almost standard among the pagans). On each of these questions, it seemed to me, it was the solemn duty of a pope to defend the Church, and repeat the powerful biblical condemnations of pagan idols — even if that would make him unpopular with progressives.

Yes, it appears two men removed the Pachamamas that had polluted the Carmelite church of Santa Maria in Transponte, in fulfilment of divine law. They made a video of their intrepid operation. They did indeed push the statues off the railing of the Ponte St. Angelo into the Tiber. But the police quickly recovered them, alas.


Several correspondents have asked my opinion whether the theft of these idols was wrong. (Five of them by most reports.) Of course it breached human law. I reserved the weekend to think about it, and I have concluded that the thieves ought to be criticized in one important respect. I think, in future, before disposing of such pagan idols, they should be fed into a wood-chipper. I am open-minded on the question of whether the chips, thus produced, should be burned, or if it would be sufficient to recycle them at a composting facility.