Friday, December 23, 2005

the Pope and shopping

From the Wisconsin State Journal ; a rather irreverant look at BXVI's calls against Christmas consumerism....

I hate to say this, but Pope Benedict XVI is starting to meddle with Christmas.
No, he's not saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." Even the pope wouldn't take on Bill O'Reilly or the American Family Association.

What the pope, who celebrates his first Christmas as head of the Catholic Church this year, is doing is far more insidious: He's urging people to give joy rather than merchandise.

"You should bring joy, not expensive gifts that cost time and money," the pope said Sunday during a homily at Santa Maria Consolatrice Church in Rome. "With a smile, an act of kindness, a little help, forgiveness, you can bring joy and that joy will come back to you."

Well, that kind of idea might work in Rome. But here in America, we know what joy is and it is not a smile or an act of kindness.

Joy is receiving a 62-inch projection television set with surround sound, a bargain at just $4,995, or a 50-inch plasma TV for a mere $3,995.

It is obvious the pope isn't married. Just try giving your wife a kindly smile for Christmas. See how long her joy lasts.

No, if you want to bring real joy to your home, try an Elextrolux Trilobite vacuum cleaner. You've probably heard of the Roomba. That's a robotic vacuum that sells for about $250 and goes circling round the living room bumping into things. A mere toy compared to the Trilobite.

According to the Electrolux promotions, the name "comes from the hard-shelled sea creature from the Paleozoic era (between 250 million and 560 million years ago) that roamed the ocean floor feeding on particles and small animals."

Take that, Roomba! The Trilobite, which costs a cool $1,779, uses a form of sound radar to locate itself. "Much like a bat, which emits a high-pitched sound to create a personal sonar reading of its landscape, the Trilobite pings 60,000 HX ultra sound vibrations at surfaces to create a map of the room and remember it for future assignments."

Put one of those babies on the floor of the Sistine Chapel and you can save the salaries of five Swiss Guards.

While the Trilobite is cleaning the chapel, the pope can catch up on his voice mail using his new state-of-the-art cell phone.

Like the Samsung i730 PDA telephone that you can buy for $799 - or considerably less with discounts. It is a telephone. It is a Personal Digital Assistant. It is a music player and a video player and a game player. But, here's what really turns a guy on: It's what's under the hood.

"Under the hood, the i730 sports a 520 MHz Intel Bulverde CPU with 65 MG of RAM and 128 MB of embedded flash memory."

I have no idea what I just said, but I think this cell phone doubles as a powerful sports car.

I'm not sure the pope gets it.

"In today's world, God is absent," he told the Christians in Rome Sunday. "People need anesthesia to live. They live in a dark world."

Perhaps in Rome, but not here. Here, if we need to escape the darkness, we don't just light a candle. We gas up the cell phone and drive into the brave new world of consumer products.

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