Writings by Dr. John C. Rao

Roma e Mia Homa

(An Esoteric and Carefully Deconstructed Allegory in One Act)

Premiere and Final Performance

Tenth Anniversary of the Summer Symposium, April, 2002

Forlorn Catholic Girl: Another skull-cracking migraine. Perpetual dyspepsia. An ever augmented sense of loss, abiding ennui and loathing. The cause? Would you like to hear? No? Perhaps I'll tell you anyway. Why shouldn't you be as miserable as I am?

"The Modern Catholic"

(To the Tune of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow")
I'm a modernized Catholic, up to date;
All my chains have been shattered, no Pope controls my fate.
I've abandoned my Latin and my Greek;
No Augustine or Thomas, I'm no doctrinal Geek.

I'm now ruled by the People, votes pour in;
Liberals count all the ballots, somehow they always win.
Far away from the Papists, free I breathe;
That's at least what they've told me, pers'nally I'd rather leave.

For being psychoanalyzed, professionally stripped of my Tradition;
I gradually have surmised my Liberators planned for my complete submission.

Somewhere, back in the ghetto, Catholics play;
There's Indulgence for sinners--yearly, by month, by day.
Somewhere, things have a meaning, Truth is found;
When nuns preach at the pulpit, eggs teach them to sit down.

Oh Catholics must still congregate and logic'lly debate around the bottle;
While some they excommunicate, and most they urge to procreate, like Aristotle.

Somewhere, handshakes are shaken outside church;
And confessional schedules need no computer search.
Somewhere, laymen keep quiet, bishops bish;
Is there no way to realize my deep Platonic wish?

Guide: Young lady, why are you crying? Your essential wish can be turned into a substantive reality. Look at this letter I have received. (The guide shows her a very wide letter with the word "Generous" written boldly on it). A Commission has been established which can give wide and generous permission to all Catholics who wish to return to the ghetto to do so forthwith. Permission is being granted every day. Imagine! No more Liberators! You can go back to a place where you can say whatever you think! You don't have to smile all day long! Or tell everyone to have a nice day! You don't have to use code words like "pepperoni" when you talk about burning heretics!

Forlorn Girl: Can this really be true? And, if so, how do we get to the Commission?

Guide: It's easy! You just follow Anathema Road!

Forlorn Girl: Follow Anathema Road?

We're Off to the Commission

(To the Tune of "We're Off to See the Wizard")

Follow Anathema Road.
Follow Anathema Road.
Follow, follow, follow, follow, follow Anathema Road.

We're off to the Commission that gives a Permission a Day;
We're sure to gain a place to say whatever we wish we may!
Whatever, whatever we wish we may, the Commission that gives a Permission a Day;
Will find a spot where we can pray and play--
And pontificate in a Catholic way!

We're off to the Commission that gives a Permission a Day!!

The Forlorn Lady and the Guide meet the Apologist

The Apologist: I'm so sorry that the Third Macedonian War lasted as long as it did. And I apologize still more vigorously for the War of the Spanish Succession. And I am deeply, deeply ashamed of the fact that Barcelona lies in northeastern rather than southwestern Spain, and that shallots go well together with peppers and onions.

Forlorn Girl: This is clearly another modern psychologically rehabilitated Catholic. The Liberators have done a fine job with him!

Guide: But let us tell him the wonderful news! Oh, good sir!

The Apologist: I am a "sir", and I am so deeply sorry for it. In fact, I am ashamed to have a body forced to take either male or female shape. And I neglected to mention that I shudder in horror over the interruption of the Han Dynasty by a mercifully short-lived usurpation which I must have in some way prepared.

Forlorn Girl: But you do not have to be sorry any more. The Commission that gives a Permission a Day is allowing all of us who want to go back to the ghetto to do so, merely by asking. It's all so easy. There, back in the ghetto, you only have to apologize for the things you do wrong! Would you like to come with us to get Permission?

The Apologist: I'm sorry to say that I would!

The Conservative Catholic: Just wait right there! What makes you think that you have the right to ask for Permission? I mean, wouldn't the Liberators have given it to us already if it were permissible to have it? Let's give them the benefit of the doubt, please! Just because something was good for us for 1900 years doesn't mean that the Liberators were hasty in taking it away! Come, come! A little patience in adversity!

Guide: Showing him the wide and generous letter. But look at this! Isn't that official enough?

The Conservative Catholic: Becoming hopeful. I must say, it seems so. I'm feeling the slightestfrissonof hope!

Forlorn Girl, Guide, and The Apologist: Then come with us!!

"We're Off to the Commission" (Anew)

Arrival at the Commission

Forlorn Girl: This must be the Commission. She knocks on the door and speaks to the secretary, who wears a big button saying 'Helper'. Excuse me, magnanimous and pastoral gentleman, is this the Commission?

The Helper: Yes.

Guide: Are you the Secretary?

The Helper: Yes. My name is Secretary Sqwakins. But I prefer to be known as 'The Helper'. I help Catholics to become truly, truly free.

Forlorn Girl: And will you help us?

The Helper: Oh most certainly. What else am I here for? What do you seek?

All: Permission!!

The Helper: No! Beat it, losers! Go trim your fingernails!

Forlorn Girl: But the wide and generous letter says that you give a Permission a Day!

The Helper: Oh? Have you tried reading it backwards? Tell me what it says then.

Guide: It says: 'Yad a Noissimrep a sevig taht Noissimmoc eht'.

The Helper: You see? What could be clearer? It says 'don't bother us. Fit in. Keep your mouth shut. Beat it. Take a pill or two. Go the Mall. Shop. Take the Global High Road to the Omega Point'.

The Apologist: I am so sorry that I unnecessarily took up your time and, by not shopping, have contributed to a current economic downturn useful only to terrorists.

The Conservative Catholic: And I would like to say that your words are golden and harmonize neatly with everything that has ever been taught since the time of the Council of Nicaea. Now could you please beat me with a studded stick?

Forlorn Girl: Wait a minute! I've dealt with your type before. You're not really a 'Helper'! You're one of the Liberators!

The Helper: Nonsense! Look at my button! Does it not say 'Helper'?

Forlorn Girl: Grabbing hold of the identification button, turning it over, and revealing the word 'Liberator' on the other side. Look!!!

The Helper: A slight semantic problem. It deconstructs to 'helper' in my idiom.

Guide: Pushing everyone away from The Helper. There is only one way to deal with this type!!He pulls out a portrait of Pope Pius IX. Look directly at this image of Blessed Pio Nono!!

The Helper: Shielding his eyes. No, not that! Anything but the Grand Mufti of Obscurantism! The most triumphalist Pontiff in history! Aaaargh! I must flee!! He runs away.

"Bravo, Pio Nono!"

(Sung to the Tune of "Ding, Dong, the Witch is Dead")

Bravo, Pio Nono, he made the phony Helper go;
Bravo, we'll deal with him no mo'!
We knew he was our foe, when he said no, we had to toe,
Toe, toe the line that's caused our woe!

He's gone where the Liberals go--below, below, below;
And so, we sing, of Blessed Pius, Pio. . .

Pio, Pio Nono, the Pope who always said--NO, NO!!
He tossed the Liberals out the door.
Way back in days of yore, in eighteen hundred sixty four;
When they would spout errors galore!!

He sent them where Liberals go--below, below, below;
And sealed, their fate, with eighty condemnations.

(while waving their handkerchiefs)

Bravo, Pio Nono! Progress gets the old heave-ho;
And modern civ'lization takes a blow!

Forlorn Girl: Stop the music! We've come all this way for nothing. We still can't get back to the ghetto. We'll never return to the place where we can say what we wish to say and be what we want to be once again. Not to speak of one where we can smoke in a restaurant!

The Catholic Fairy: (as the good witch, carrying a basket). Fear not! You saw how The Helper fled before the portrait of Pius IX. Look in this basket. It is filled with items dear to Blessed Pio Nono's heart. A Catechism of the Council of Trent. Devotional cards. Scores of polyphonic masses. Several comprehensive syllabi of errors. This is all you need to get back to the ghetto. You never needed Permission from the Commission in the first place. Just hold this basket in your hand and repeat after me: "There is no place like Rome; there is no place like Rome".

All: There is no place like Rome; there is no place like Rome; there is no place like Rome.

Finale: "Oh There's No Place Like Rome"

(To the Tune of "Oh, There's No Place Like Home")

Oh, there's no place like Rome when it goes Baroque;
For a fresh start, or when the last bell's rung.
For an auto-da-fe or Goetterdaemmerung;
Give me Rome, Mia Homa, Rome sweet home!


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