Nouns: sex, politics, religion:
Subjects not to be discussed except when alone, in the privacy of one’s own boudoir, and with one’s mouth shut tight:
“Sister Carmela Spaghettini was indicted, found guilty of subversive rabble rousing, and sentenced to Life Without The Possibility of Purgatory, for daring to publish a blog article titled, ‘Sex Behind The Partisan Pearly Gates.’”
Credit: Merriam-Broccolini Dictionary of Dangerous Definitions
So, call me courageous, or call me imprudent, but please call me.
Because I need help with a pressing problem of the mind; or maybe it’s an imaginary problem that presses, and thusly squashes, my brain matter off to one side of my skull; or perhaps my daring do is just one more symptom of the disease with which I was born: Self-delusionus Importantus Naturalus (SIN).
In any event, (are writers allowed to use the introductory phrase in any event?, or does such laziness break one of the Seven Deadly Rules?), I swear – well, not swear in the sense of cussing, indirectly mentioned on Las Tablets de Moses – more like I promise – that before asking my abundant audience of readers for help with solving this conundrum, I researched as many historical, Italian theologians as I had the pleasure and leisure to peruse.
Three such wise men (Three Wise Men? How inadvertently clever of me.) gained my RESPECT (this being an honor, coming from a Toscano; kiss my ring, plebe.).
- Tommaso d’Aquino, 1225-1274: A refined friar and a victim of Italian French Fries, Saint d’Aquino gained fame as a model teacher and an expert on the arcane topic of Levitation Ecstasy. Proof positive that one can float high without the use of toxic substances.
- Silvestro Mazzolini da Prierio, 1456-1527: A noted Defender of The Roman Pontiff against all foreign upstarts seeking office in the House of Pure-Bred Italian Bishops, Santo Silvestro held his own when he dueled with that hippie upstart Martin Luther. Oh for the Good Old Days, when all Popes were required to pass Italian 101 before the smoke left the castle’s chimney.
- Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, 1463-1494: When this Santo Pico had acquired a mere twenty-three years of life experience (with only eight years left to exist before the angels pushed him out of bed and road him on their wings up to Heaven), he spent his days defending 900 – that’s right, 900 – theses on religion, philosophy and magic. And here I own the nerve to believe that my one, measly treatise deserves recognition from the greater public.
As a Man of Humble but Noteworthy Influence inside the world of modern-day scribes, I realize that in no way known to humanity can I ever hope – well, I can hope, but never expect – to reach the top-most philosophical fronds of medieval, Mediterranean palm trees that Tommaso, Silvestro and Giovanni touched on a daily basis. Still, I’d anticipated – that a foolish emotion – that my study of the Sainted Greats would reap a proposed answer to my theological quandary.
Sad to admit, but nowhere within, under, or on the rooftop of La Biblioteca del Vaticano did I discover even a smidgen of a mention of la domanda che mi perseguita. This fact most likely reflects my poor research skills; remember, I suffer from a chronic case of SIN.
And so I set my predicament before all of you, my trustworthy, talented and tickled fans.
To the point:
I’ve been imagining what Heaven might be like. I’m certain that at least one of you will read this abstract of my bottom-drawer, tome-length treatise and rush to remind me that I’ve been a world class theologian, a trait not at all uncommon to the fortunate few whose hearts pump Sicilian blood, since my early childhood years in South Jersey.
Of course, as a public persona, long attuned to the rough and rumble of the Battle of Sicilian Elites, my political instincts promise me that a few lesser personalities will seek to drag me down a few rungs, and while on the turf, badger my broken body until I admit to being an old siciliano zio, haunted by the subject of my own mortality (Death, you uomo sciocco, just say it; she’s a comin’ soon.).
I confess that I’m not an upper-class theologian – I’m a Uomo of the People — so I suppose the drag squad could own a point, dull though it must be. Whatever. What matters to me is not any titles readers may attach to me. Sticks and stones and all that, you see.
No, I’m just interested in any Answers From The Gallery to the one burning question I have about Heaven, namely, how big does Heaven have to be in order to accommodate even just the good souls from, say, the beginning of the human race?
Of course, before proposing an all-encompassing answer to my query, we’ll have to draw the historical line somewhere. I mean to suggest, for instance, would Cro-Magnon French humanoids qualify as licensed citizens of Heaven?
As of today, Thursday, October 29, 2015, at 2:12 PM, California time, 7.125 billion people live on planet Earth. Well, maybe slightly more, because that figure was true three years ago, so today’s number is bound to be somewhat higher, as I believe that during this dwindling Era of Free Love we humans are producing fractured replicas of ourselves faster than we produce dead, but lively angels. For example, I suspect that the day I succumb will see the birth of at least three cuddly babies somewhere in Sicily or even in New Jersey.
So again I ask you, with that many people scuttling around the neighborhood today, and with all those Roman warriors who were pushed off the cliff, and the Vikings who walked the plank, and Hannibal’s squad of unlucky rock climbers, and maybe even a few thousand Cro-Magnon French souls,
- How big must Heaven be?
While I’m on a subject of such theological importance, I must beg your patience as you bear in mind my second question. With so many catacosmic angels gliding around and sometimes colliding with the clouds, and then to mention the billions of fallen spirits down there suffering continuous high fevers and scorch-related infections,
- What are my chances, after my demise, of running into even one member of my family?
I suppose my Sicilian spiritual spirit version of me could set about calling out their names, maybe even pop a digitized, mobile phone, faded photograph or two under any angelic noses I encounter. Like a cop on one of those bang, bang, forensic, cop mystery reality TV shows.
“Have you seen this good soul? In life he stood about five feet four inches, walked with a limp and enjoyed singing Frank Sinatra ballads. Please look carefully at this picture. Yeah, I realize that what with the halo and the wings he’s bound to look a little different nowadays. But please, tell all your friends I’m coming for him.”
Now, I hope I haven’t offended anyone, because I mean no harm. Although I admit to injecting a bit of innocent humor here and there, my two Important Questions focus on one central concept, one that human beings, apparently from at least the beginning of recorded history – according to Santos Tommaso, Silvestro and Giovanni — have designed.
The concept, or perhaps better labeled a dreamy notion, of an afterlife.
I sorely hope – forgive me the ly adverb, but my mind is indeed sore after all this thinking and researching; like I said, I hope in a sore way that I haven’t spent all these decades on Earth for naught. After all, I worked hard, and for all the selfishness I collected, I tried my best to help my fellow friends and enemies. Like maybe many of you, I want to live forever (at least I don’t want to die in a miserable way). Perhaps if I chant a dozen rosaries’ worth of earnest prayers, Santo Tommaso will convey to me a set of detailed directions for attaining Levitation Ecstasy.
And yes, I want to believe in Heaven. No joke therein; I am part of the Not Quite Silent, But Frightened Majority.
Why entertain a fear of becoming an angel, whether levitated or fallen? Because for all the suffering that sometimes comes my way, life is just plain fun. Writing, thinking, walking, singing, dreaming, loving and cuddling.
And eating hot Italian sausage.
All those memories and a whole lot more I hold precious. And should I wake up again tomorrow, I plan to choose from the palette of opportunities that exist for the easy taking.
I respect anyone’s beliefs where these two theological questions are concerned.
So, if any of you have well-considered answers, I’d appreciate hearing from you.