Friday, April 28, 2006

"The living bread"

After Schrödinger’s cat finally died of acute cognitive dissonance in 1954, Tellus II fissioned off from planet earth.

As a part of a parallel universe, Tellus II had a history in many ways parallel to Tellus I, but being part of an alternative universe, it also had a history in some ways alternative to Tellus I.

(Incidentally, there was an intense debate among the theoretical physicists of Tellus II regarding the actual or hypothetical existence of Tellus II. But that’s another story.)

Because Tellus II instantiated a different timeline, it quickly branched off in different directions.

When John XXIII became Antipope, he ushered in a new era of aggiornamento.

(Incidentally, when I say that John XIII was an “Antipope,” that doesn’t mean he was an imposter. It only means that just as papal incumbents of Tellus I were made of matter, papal incumbents of Tellus II were made of antimatter.)

The principal concern of John XXIII’s antipontificate was to revise the traditional understanding of the sacraments.

In traditional Tellurian dogma, the communion elements become the true body and blood of the Messiah.

John XXIII, however, belonged to the secret society of the Literati.

As their name suggests, the Literati took the Bread of Life discourse literally. So when the Messiah described himself as living bread, come down from heaven, this meant exactly what it said: the Messiah was a loaf of bread.

As such, the Literati rejected the dogma of the Real Presence in favor of the Real Breadence.

On this point they would brook no compromise. To tamper with the plain meaning of the text by suggesting that true body existed under the species of bread, or in, with, and under the bread, was a blatant case of Scripture twisting.

When the text said “bread,” it meant “bread.” It meant what it said, and said what it meant. To depart from the natural sense of the text was rationalistic and impious.

So after John XXIII became Antipope, he set about to officially reformulate the dogma by convoking the Second Vatican Council.

But his efforts met with stiff opposition. Archbishop Lebreadre accused him of being a “Pope,” which in Tellurian II discourse was synonymous with “Antipope” in Tellurian I discourse.

(Yes, I know this gets to be a bit confusing.)

John XXIII endeavored to defend himself against this charge by appealing to Cardinal Newman’s theory concerning the breadolution of dogma.

John XXIII was not contradicting traditional dogma, but merely elucidating and elaborating the latent implications of the deposit of faith.

However, his attempted reformulation proved to be too radical, and he was deposed.

This, in turn, generated a schism. Indeed, a series of schisms.

For the doctrine of the Real Breadance raises a number of hitherto unanswered questions. For example, if the Messiah was a loaf of bread, then what kind of bread was he?

This is not, I assure you, a merely academic dispute or scholastic quibble, for unless the true ingredients could be identified and reproduced, the sacrament was invalid.

So the Literati soon subdivided into a multiplicity of rival factions, such as the Apple Walnutters, Pumpernickel Ryeans, Chocolate Babkans, and Cinnamon Raisins.

The controversy soon spread beyond the confines of Mother Church to engulf the separated brethren. Appalachian believers said the Messiah was made of corn bread (“holy hoecakes”), and Southern Presbyterian said he was made of hushpuppies, while Scots-Presbyterians, being of a dour disposition, said he was made of sourdough.

For their part, charismatics were less interested in the flour than in the leaven. They favored a yeasty spirituality.

There was also a split between Copernican Literati and Ptolemaic Literati. You see, as Cardinal Dulles pointed out in his crustological proof, heaven bread implied a heavenly Baker as well as a heavenly Bakery.

So there were fiery disputes over the astronomical positioning of the heavenly Bakery.

In addition, the Literati worshipped a trinity of the Baker, the Bread, and the Leaven.

There were also ceremonies concerning the reservation and adoration of the Pumpernickel.

Since Scripture expressly denominated the bread as “living” bread, Pumpernickel Ryeans (and other Literati) took to leaving food out for “The Pumpernickel” to consume in private.

The fact that their provision of food was never actually eaten was taken by some sceptics as evidence that the Pumpernickel was not a living entity, but as the Literati pointed out, this was a test of faith, for faith, as everyone knows, is believing the unbelievable.

Things got so chaotic that Benedict XVI reinstituted the Inquisition to impose a measure of unity and outward conformity in order to stave off the tragic scandal of so many competing recipes. Heresy trials abounded.

Sectarian Literati justified their respective traditions by appeal to apostolic succession. According, for example, to ancient Appalachian tradition, St. Bartholomew, after crossing the Atlantic on the back of a porpoise, founded an apostolic see in the Smokey Blue Hills.

Other schismatics cited equally venerable legends.

Heretics and schismatics who refused to recant were sentenced to a diet of unleavened bread and dish water.

I wish I could tell you how it all came out, but the wormhole I was using to receive signals from the religion correspondent on Tellus II collapsed before his transmission was finished, and I’ve been unable to reestablish an uplink.

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