Shimoniac Jones

I didn't lose my mind – it fled in terror.

Archive for the tag “iconoclast”

A New Pope, Same Old Story

So Pope Benedict the Whatever decided that he’d had enough of trying to save the Catholic Church, and pulled the pin on his career. He announced his resignation when declared his retirement. I note that he gave about two weeks notice, which is generally standard for professionals who resign, or quit, their jobs. As regards Pope Benny the Dick, I’m still waiting for the other red shoe to drop. What happened? Was it a financial fiasco, sexual impropriety, paternity suit, dealing in fake relics, did he exorcise the Holy Ghost? The possibilities are endless, and worrisome.

The conclave happened so quickly, that I barely got a chance to tell my favourite conclave joke. Yes, as a matter of fact, I do have a favourite conclave joke. If there’s black smoke, boo hoo, no new pope. If there’s white smoke, hooray, there’s a new pope. If there’s grey, greasy smoke, the cardinals are having steak. There it is, take it or leave it, I grant permission to use it next conclave. As a side note, my mother observed that the conclave occured during Lent, so steak probably wasn’t on the menu. Grilled salmon, on the other hand… 😀

The former Jorge Mario Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, styled the first, got one hell of a promotion to Christ’s Vicar in Rome. Going into the first round of voting he was on the board, but as a 33 to 1 against long shot. Perhaps his papal motto should be Equus Tenebris Sanctis; that’s approximately Latin for Holy Dark Horse.

So, now we have Pope Frank. Wow. Of course, as an iconoclastic Militant Agnostic, I view all organized religions with a large helping of dubiousness. The more, and gaudier, trappings a religion has, the less I feel they have the welfare of anyone at heart; anyone but those at the top of the heap, that is. I tend to agree with Robert A. Heinlein in my view that religion is for the benefit of the priest-class rather than the congregation. The new supreme pontiff will have to put the church’s money, and a lot of it, where his mouth is, before I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

I don’t necessarily doubt Pope Frank’s honesty, honour, conviction, or anything else; but I do know about a phenomenon called bureaucratic inertia. It’s also called captured by the system. A reformer goes into a department to clean it up and make it efficient, but winds up embracing the established culture.

The Catholic Church is two thousand years old; they’ve had twenty centuries to become set in their ways. Assume an average human generation at twenty years. Boys and girls can sire and birth young sooner than that, but it’s a convenient rule of thumb to use. That means one hundred generations have passed since the founding of the Catholic Church. Another way to look at it is that the organization is more than twenty-five times the age of the guy leading it.

That sheer weight of numbers and the resultant ossification of procedure practically requires high explosives to shift.

My mother, who describes herself as a recovering Catholic, rather cynically opined that the reason the conclave elected such an obscure candidate was so that they (the bureaucracy) could pull the wool over his eyes and continue business as usual. Her version of business as usual was money-laundering in the Vatican bank, influence peddling, covering up for sexually deviant priests, and other similarly distasteful activities. Mom has what you might call a dim view of Mother Church.

If true, I think the PTB (Powers That Be) are in for an unpleasant surprise. Frank is a Jesuit, the Society of Jesus have a formidable reputation for scholarship, perseverance, and loyalty to the Pope.

So, as with so many other things, I wait and watch.

The origin of Shimoniac

 

The reasons I chose Shimoniac Jones as my pseudonym are multiple and various.  My father chose as a pseudonym the name Archon; this was back in the days of CB radios when no one was known by their real names.  For those of you younger than 30 or 35 who don’t know what a CB is, wiki it.  So, as I grew, I wanted a cool nom de guerre.  I started with Archon Jr., Archon II, etc; but I wasn’t satisfied with that.  I wanted something that was mine and cool.  I read, a lot, and I tried adopting some of the names and concepts from books that I particularly liked.

None of them worked.  None were what I considered me.

So, there I was, without a nom de plume that I liked.  I worked/volunteered at a community radio station back in the late ‘80s and we received music tapes from various sources, from people hopeful that we would put them on the air, make them famous.  This was wayyy before YouTube, Justin Bieber, and PSY.  One of the tapes we got was from the Canadian radio station CFNY, which is located in Toronto.  CFNY was, and maybe still, is an alternative music broadcaster that specialized in breaking out new acts and artists; perhaps one of their most successful successes is the group Barenaked Ladies.

The station I worked at received from them a cassette tape called Modern Music 1990, after listening to it a few times and playing it on the station, the music director asked me if I wanted it.  I’m always interested in free things, so I said yes.  The tape included probably the earliest recorded version of the aforementioned Barenaked Ladies’, `Be My Yoko Ono’.  However, aside from that, there was a Band called Electronic Dream Factory, and they had a song called, `So, What of Tomorrow?’.  In the song, as a chorus, are listed various sinners which can be condemned to Hell.  Most of the sins mentioned were ones whose definitions were ones that I already knew; so I went to a dictionary and looked up the definitions to the ones I didn’t.  You’ve guessed it; one sinner mentioned was `simoniac’, another was `barrator’.

A Barrator is one who is always at odds with others; a disturber of the peace.  That wasn’t me, the other one, however, was interesting and interested me.  Simony is the buying and selling of ecumenical offices, preferments, benefices, emoluments, etc.  That appealed to the junior iconoclast in me.

You may have noticed that I’ve added an `h’ to the word; if you didn’t, don’t worry.  I added that `h’ because I was interested in history and wanted to invoke the old Hebraic pronunciation of the name.  Scroll forward a few years to the invention of the Internet and the development of message boards.  Then, as now, probably 99.9% of posters used some sort of nom de plume, showing their interests, history, or whatever.  Some message boards wanted people to use their first and last names.

My own natural surname is Smith, but I didn’t want to use anything that was actually mine, so I added `Jones’ as a surname; Jones being the second-most common English-language surname.  When I go anonymous, I really go anonymous.

So, there you have it.  That’s the origin of another random, anonymous blogger’s name on the Internet.  Aren’t you glad you asked?

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