Monday, February 25, 2013

Electing a Pope Via Reality TV: 4 Shows that Could Modernize the Conclave

So Pope Benedict has decided to step down and enjoy retirement. I don't blame him. Why should his friends gather at McDonald's for morning chitchats while he works long hours overseeing the Catholic Church?
Thus begins the process of electing a new pope. And we all know the drill. The cardinals are sequestered inside the Sistine Chapel where they ponder, deliberate, compromise, vote and yada yada yada.
The process, I believe, is secretive, archaic and distant for us laypeople.
Maybe it's time to make it a tad more revealing and accessible. I can think of no better way than creating a reality TV format.
Here are a few shows I've developed that could be exceptional vehicles for picking a new pope.
Big Brethren
"Big Brethren" will find the cardinals locked in an isolated house squaring off in wacky skill and quiz competitions.
As preaching from heights is critical, the gang will take turns spouting scriptures from the attic dormer window. A wind machine and locusts will make conditions harsh. Who will be the last father standing?
To test teamwork, the cardinals will be paired up and race to fill a stoup with holy water using a miniature teacup. The wrinkle? They will run in one-legged sacks. Only the Holy Spirit will keep them from toppling.
Religious acumen will be exposed in a bible quiz. Tough questions will be asked, such as, "Was there a life boat drill on Noah's Ark?" or "What type of apple tempted Eve - a Granny Smith or McIntosh?"
When all is over, we'll know what these guys are made of both physically and mentally.
Deadliest Catechism
No surprise here, the cardinals will board a vessel in the port of Dutch Harbor, Alaska as it launches to the Bering Sea for dangerous crab-fishing season.
The task at hand will be to teach the crew religious doctrines in a question and answer format. No easy task, as the classroom will be a floating obstacle course fraught with gale-force winds, slipping hazards and rough seas.
The last thing these gents will want to do in their spare time is respond "To glorify God and enjoy Him forever!" when asked, "What is the chief end of man?"
If this sounds dangerous, it is. But being a pope will be a grueling job and knowing we have one nimble enough to avoid getting hit by a swinging crab pot is beyond comforting.
The cardinal with the greatest number of confirmed fishermen will be determined the winner.
Extra points will be given if Jonah is found alive in any sea creature.
Vatican's Got Talent
Sure we want to choose a cardinal who is benevolent, intelligent and worthy, but many are just that. What we really need is a platform to showcase entertainment prowess.
I, for one, would love to hear a cardinal sing an acoustic version of "Losing My Religion" or "Sympathy for the Devil."
But the talent competition will not be limited to song. Any worthy skill will be considered, including break dancing, handkerchief juggling and archery.

Imagine the ratings if a cardinal attempts to shoot an apple off the head of a Parochial Vicar, whether it is a Granny Smith or McIntosh.
And let's not exclude novelty acts. If a participant wants to jump off a 25-foot platform into a kiddie pool while riding a camel, so be it. I'll not deny him a miracle baptism.

Ice Road Tithers
Collecting money for the church will be this show's focus. The cardinals will load up their baskets and head off to the Artic in search of alms.
Riding in trucks across frozen lakes and rivers, the rivals will seek out congregates not normally called upon.
Persuasive skills will be tested as they knock on doors in rural locations. "What are you doing here? I haven't seen anyone in weeks," and "Get off my porch, Padre!" may be common greetings.
Choosing a victor will be easy. The cardinal with the heaviest coffer wins.
So there you have it. Four reality shows that will engage the masses and allow for a bird's eye view of the cardinals under consideration. No more secrecy. Just in-your-face, viewer-friendly pontiff picking.
Don't look now, but I think I see white smoke.

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