So look at that Pope pickers, the moment is upon us when it's time to choose a new major religious figure. What larks.
The transition between leaders of any movement is always hard to achieve. An audience gets used to a certain style and it's always tough to know when to go for more of the same and when to throw in something fresh. For instance, making Doctor Who a leather jacketed northerner who acted like he was constantly buzzing on E was heralded as a great break through in contemporary television but I think we all breathed a sigh of relief when they went back to casting smug university types.
What makes the choice of Pope harder though is that he is one of those religious leaders who is still supposed to be picked by divine intuition. We know that a bunch of old guys will sit around and pick from a small group of their mates. It's like deciding who is going to be chair of the golf club, though less vicious. However, once they're done we all have to pretend that at some point during this orderly, ordinary, human process God will pop through the fireplace with the casting vote.
It's a story that feels increasingly hard to swallow in a world were divinity is more usually derived from the skill of "having nearly everyone talk about you a lot without most people saying anything that interesting about you very often". Or "fame" if you want something punchier. Anyway, I'm not so sure that the actions of God are any harder to swallow now than they once were. After all, the Tibetans still hold to the idea that the Dalai Lama is the actual reincarnation of the same soul, even after Tsangyang Gyatso, the 6th Lama, spent his time getting drunk, screwing about, writing awful love songs and generally behaving like Harry Styles. In the end Tsangyang was murdered and replaced with a better behaved one who didn't write songs. A lesson for us all.
Still, whilst it's unlikely that the next pope is going to be murdered to stop him fornicating in the streets, I do hope that the old gang have a surprise in store for us. We may not yet be ready for a black Doctor Who but surely the smart money must be on a black Pope, if only because then they can get someone really right-wing and no one will want to criticise him for fear of looking like a big racist.
Or perhaps the surprise will be more like the content of this short film my brother and I once made.