It could happen, and soon. An ailing pope; an ambitious American with a humble birth, rising through the ranks from Amish farmboy to apprentice evangelist to cross-country truck driver to small-time radio talk show host, is discovered by a talent agent who outfits him with the best political operatives money can buy; the man becomes a bishop and then cardinal; the pope dies; our hero is elected to the highest spiritual office in all Christendom; he proceeds to remodel the papacy along the lines of contemporary American values; etc.
This is the story line of Paul Enns Wiebe’s “brilliant and funny” picaresque novel, Benedict XVI, published by Komos Books.
(Disclosure: Komos Books is a sponsor of this blog. It would, however, be an exaggeration to say that we are in bed together. And there is probably nothing to the rumor that the author is my grandson. This malicious gossip was brought to my attention by my editor, Art Unknown, who informed me that my colleague, Talia Mews, had let it slip to a gentleman admirer while the two were enjoying a mug of the soft stuff in the bar of the Hôtel Adios.)
(Further disclosure: I have no idea if the author is or is not my grandson. I do not know where Thalia Mews gets her information and whether it would stand up in court. We are not on speaking terms. What is more, I do not even recall if I have a grandson, let alone whether this putative grandson would be the talented author of Benedict XVI, which contains pages and pages of fine dialogue, including the uproariously funny conversation between the hero, Benny Good, and the pope he will eventually replace—a conversation in which Mr. Good begins by trying out his newly-learnt Latin by informing the incumbent that he believes in God. Could my grandson have written such a stupendous scene? I like to think so, but as I place my robotic hand firmly on the family copy of Holy Scripture, I repeat that (1) I don’t know if I have a grandson and (2) I have no idea if he wrote what the New York Times will soon be calling “the most superb and entertaining novel that we have read since we started plumping and castigating books.”)
(Explanation: The reason I am ignorant of the truth of these allegations is that I am dead. To readers who have just stumbled onto this blog, let it be known that I have been dead since 1958; that I was cremated; and that I am now running for president of these United States of America as the candidate of the Dead Rights Party. Further, let me explain that studies have shown that a cremated individual loses all memory of his or her real past life. All he or she can remember are the books he & etc. has read while enjoying the perk of being alive. This talent comes in handy when he etcetera is appointed the book reviewer for a major website.)
(Final disclosure. I am not paid by the word.)
Recommendation: Benedict XVI satirizes many things, especially politics. It is a must-read for every candidate for higher office. Also, for every voter, including the dead for whom the Dead Rights Party exists. The author says he regrets that the plot requires that this satire spills over into religion, including Catholicism and Protestantism and as may arise. It is a must-read for members and former members of all religions.