Pope Benedict has died
Also, Lizzo in Yiddish
Happy new year! Welcome to Modern Relics in 2023 — I hope that whatever you did over the last two weeks I’ve been away, it was rejuvenating. Welcome especially to the couple of dozen new subscribers who joined over the break. I mostly deal with the strange ways people talk about or do religion online, and sometimes in broader popular culture too.
It’s a window into a part of the internet not everyone experiences. I hope you stick around, leave a comment, and if you like what you see, recommend Modern Relics to a friend.
Besides celebrating Christmas with my fiance’s family, I have done very little! I am watching Euphoria and have started a Nuzlocke on Pokemon White. I’ve also been doing some other writing, which I’ll cover at the end.
The Pope has died. No not that pope
While I was celebrating New Year’s Eve, I got a notification that Pope Benedict had died. Initially I thought it was a mistake, because I’d gotten a false alarm a few days before. I also happened to be wearing a very silly wig when I got the news.
Maybe it was due to the time of year, or maybe because Twitter is quieter now, but I was expecting a few more unusual posts about it (I mean no disrespect — world leader and celebrity deaths usually provoke plenty of weirdness).
The closest thing I saw was this post claiming a Vatican official strikes the former pope’s head with this ornate hammer to ensure he is dead — an idea that seems to have been popularised in the Guardian in 2003, but was later retracted.
Snopes calls this claim “unproven” saying:
In the wake of the death of Pope John Paul II on 2 April 2005, news outlets and other sources have issued a variety of contradictory statements about the use of a silver hammer in connection with a pope's death: it's an old, discontinued practice, or it remains a current practice; the use of the hammer once served a functional purpose, or its use is (and always has been) purely symbolic. In light of these competing claims, we await a pronouncement from an identifiable (i.e., non-anonymous) Vatican official on the subject before declaring this one either 'True' or 'False.'
Also, I am led to believe that for a whole hour, Italian newspaper la Repubblica illustrated their article about the Emeritus Pope’s death with a photo of Anthony Hopkins from The Two Popes. (Besides this screenshot I have no way of verifying this.)
Finally, there’s this tweet from pet historian Kathleen Walker-Meikle, who says Pope Benedict was “the greatest papal cat man since Leo XII”. Pope Benedict cat boy confirmed.
Lizzo in Yiddish
Please also watch the original.
Christmas morning on the radio
Just FYI: I co-hosted an hour of ABC Radio National’s special Christmas morning broadcast, which you can listen to online.
I spoke with Dr Tim Dean from The Ethics Centre about his ideas about holidays, and if they can ever be truly unifying in a multicultural society.
I also admit to only using TikTok around once a week. This has changed a bit since we recorded that though — I’m starting to use TikTok more at home as Twitter slowly breaks down.
A few more leftover Christmas posts (they’re good I promise)
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Our God is an Awesome God ON ICE and IN DRAG
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The queens in the video above are Willow Pill and Denali from season 14 of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
National Bible Bee
I bet it’s good though
Once again stealing Jim McDermott from's regular segment where you post something you haven’t read or listened to yet as a way to remind yourself to get around to doing that (because you’re sure it’s worth your time).
This time, it’s an interview by Jim McDermott himself (sorry for not reading it yet Jim) speaking with drag queen Eureka O’Hara, about embracing God’s love as a queer person.
Also, there’s this episode of Fresh Air with White Lotus creator Mike White. Kate Shellnutt of Christianity Today tweeted about it saying it “includes moments talking about his father, who had been a ghostwriter for Moral Majority evangelicals and a Fuller seminary prof before coming out in the 1990s”. Something I knew nothing about!
I’m preaching again soon
I don’t advocate for any particular religious tradition in this newsletter, but I am a member of the Uniting Church in Australia. I’ll let you know when I’m doing any public speaking, including preaching, which happens about once or twice a year.
This Sunday I will be preaching at Leichhardt Uniting Church about Epiphany. You can watch the Facebook live stream on Sunday 8 January from 10am Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time or next week I’ll post a link to the recording on YouTube.
Please ignore the fact Epiphany is actually on the 6th — we’re not having a service that day and I still wanted to talk about it.