I wrote this article for The Canberra Times in 2013. Sadly, it’s just as relevant today. This is an edited version.
I believe a vacancy is about to arise in your esteemed organisation and I forthwith put myself forward for consideration for the position of Pope for the 21st Century. My credentials for the position are extensive.
I have read The Da Vinci Code. So I’m fully aware of the lunatic nature of albino monk assassins and the dangers of carrying anti-matter in the papal helicopter. Or was that Demons and Angels?
On a personal level, I was baptised at St Kevin’s Parish Church, went to the parish school, and attended so many funerals by the age of 11 the smell of incense terrifies me as I think I must be dead. I know my school catechism by heart (Do you believe in God? I believe in God the Father almighty creator of Heaven and earth) and the Apostle’s Creed (I believe in God the Father almighty creator of Heaven and earth … Ah, bit of overlap there). I can also mumble an extensive range of hymns (Faith of our fathers! Holy faith! We will be true to thee till death!) I suspect, however, that ‘Faith of our fathers, living still/In spite of dungeon, fire and sword’ might need a little update.
In Grade 2 I studied the pictorial Book of Martyrs. The graphic pictures included St Sebastian at the stake stuck with arrows and spurting blood and John the Baptist with his head on a silver platter with, I swear, a piece of parsley. To be honest, it put me off the career path of martyr.
I think I’m more suited to Pope. The gold jewellery, the yards of silk, the sweet slippers, the adorable capes along with 1.5 million followers on Twitter. Celebrities would die for that PR.
I wrote JMJ (Jesus, Mary and Joseph) at the top of every work page but still got answers wrong. No miracles there. I know how to pray, although, to be honest; my family holds the land speed record for saying the Hail Mary.
As Her Holiness, I’d assume the name Pope Maria taken from The Sound of Music. As a virgin with 7 children, Maria is an ideal role model.
My modernisation program would involve rewriting the 10 Commandments (Thou shalt not kill. This includes you too America.), making St Peter’s Basilica more homely (a few bean bags should do the trick), admitting fallibility (Church numbers are way down. Something’s wrong) and inviting women to be priests to stop the priesthood turning into an exclusive club of celibate, frock-wearing geriatrics.
My attendance at mass has dropped off, well, permanently of late. When I last fronted a mass and saw the communion wafers and wine I thought ‘a little camembert would be nice’. Obviously, I need a grace upgrade. But I do know Christ’s teachings.
Jesus never said ‘go and grab the best real estate and build monuments to the glory of architecture using cheap labour’. Nor did he say, ‘fill my churches with gold and precious stones looted from native people’s in pagan dominions’. He never said ‘argue among yourselves over the wording of the bible, so you splinter into fractious and violent sects’ although ‘transubstantiation’ is a big word. But it’s not in the bible.
Christ never commanded the crusades, the Inquisition, or the Irish squabbles so we can only assume that there have been leadership problems for about, say, 2,000 years.
Mostly, however, I want to produce a kinder, gentler, more humble, and less judgmental leadership with less pomp and ceremony and more care for the poor, the sick, the marginalised, and the neglected.
Something much closer to Christ’s teachings. Something, I think, more like the Salvos. And I’d be the first Pope to whip it up with the trombone.
Yours Faithfully, KC
It is easy to forget how a 5 year old thinks. The world looks totally weird to a 5 year old. In 1997, when this article was first published, I received many letters from junior school teachers saying ‘Soooo true.’
I have a school hat. It’s big. It goes down to my nose. And I have to put my head back, right back, to see things. And I falled over my bag. But you’ve gotta have to wear your hat because ‘otherwise you’re dead.’ That’s what my sister says. But the teachers they don’t wear hats. They’ll be dead soon.
When we gotted to school my mum wouldn’t let go of my hand. Ami from my kinder was crying. But I’m big. I can do big jumps. I can do wrestling. I can punch dragons. I can. My sister. She’s Grade Free. She says ya can’t punch dragons ‘cos they will barbecue you with one breath. But you can punch dragons. When they’re asleep.
My school is called St Hello Wishes. And it’s big. It’s more bigger than Africa. But my school hasn’t got lions because they eat people. But teachers think there is lions. Because that’s what the teacher says when you go to school. She says ‘Get in a lion boys and girls.’
Get in a Lion, Kids published Herald Sun (24 Jan 1997) and as The First Day of School, The Advertiser (SA 27 Jan 1997). Read full article: My First Day at School Ever
Also, for kids starting High School see: Sometimes It’s the Class Clown that Performs Well in Life
A friend sent me a card featuring New Bridges for the Seven Seas (below), a 1919 Art Deco work by Romain de Tirtoff, a Russian-born French Artist. The card inspired me to make this animation.
2020 will have a different soundtrack for each of us. Here is the Lockdown Playlist of some of my friends.
I’m a great Musical Comedy fan and Patty La Phon is THE best. Guaranteed to make you feel great. Heather L
I hadn’t played the piano for 40 years, but during the lockdown I decided to re- learn the first two movements of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.After much time(of which I had plenty) and many, many mistakes, successfully learning to play this beautiful piano piece again has been a joyful highlight of my lockdown experience. Libby M
My soundtrack to Lockdown since August 28th 2020 has been Brahms’ Lullaby. Our fifth grandson, Zac, was born on that date. As a mother of three daughters I thought that I was quite the expert on girls , and having five grandsons has certainly put me on a steep learning curve since grandson number one, Alex, was born in September 2002, eighteen years ago.Since that date, almost every nappy change that I have made for Alex, Ben, Sam, Flynn and now for baby Zac , has been accompanied by an airborne stream which the baby boys seem to delight in firing anywhere and everywhere! Boys, but you do have to love them, don’t you!! Hence, my choice of music , 24 hours of Brahms’ Lullaby to soothe us all! Philippa Q.
When it looked as if Lockdown was here to stay some of us worried about the upcoming footy season and how it might be affected. As a Tiger supporter I’d been looking forward to some happy afternoons and evenings cheering on our premiership team. Well, we know how that story ended with teams relocating to far away places, welcome because they bought cash and life to the far West and North whilst we here in Melbourne suffered the indignity of becoming pariahs of the game we invented ! Interest waned as stories of bad behaviour , sad tales of families torn apart as if by war and a general malaise set in as the months wore on. My only contact was The Coodabeen Champions on Saturday mornings with stories of past players, songs of bygone eras and the wonderful talk back callers like Peter from Peterborough, Nigel from North Fitzroy and Pearl from the Peninsula.
But then came the finals with two Victorian teams fighting it out in Brisbane. On Saturday lunchtime I took a walk down Swan Street and spotted Waleed Aly and his family heading for the ‘G’, past the street where Club President Peggy O’Neil lives and suddenly Footy was alive again. It really didn’t matter who won, we were back in town and this song by Paul Kelly says it all. Melbourne was, is, and always will be the home of Aussie Rules…..Go Tiges ! Jeanette F
Melbourne singer Angie MacMahon wrote this last year, but it perfectly captures the ennui of Lockdown. 500,000+ hits tells you something. Kerry C
The wonderful tenor Andrea Bocelli singing Con Te Partirò never fails to lift my spirits. It’s one of those songs which lifts the dopamine levels – just what’s been needed during lockdown. This live performance in the Piazza Dei Cavalieri, Italy in 1997 also triggers memories of a Europe we cannot visit at the moment. Annie G