The Parable of the Popo
It was Saturday afternoon in Chainda, and a group of people were sitting in a circle under a large acacia tree. ‘Mubanga,’ said one of the group, ‘I think you had volunteered to give us a reading from the New Kalaki Testament.’
Mubanga opened a well-thumbed volume and began. ‘The reading this evening is from the Gospel According to St Kalaki, Chapter 13, Verses 1-27, often referred to as The Parable of the Popo.’
‘And so it came to pass,’ began Mubanga, ‘that the word of God became difficult to read in
Europe, because they had reached the Dark Ages, and it was very dark indeed. But there arose amongst the people one who called himself Popo, who went amongst the people and spoke unto them, saying I am Popo, appointed by your Father in Heaven as Light of the Lord to read the Word of God in this terrible darkness.
‘And Popo said unto them, I shall read and interpret the Word for you, and give you the rules on how you should live. Put your trust in me and I shall get you into Heaven. Otherwise you are stumbling and bumping around in the dark and you will surely fall down into Hell and burn forever.
‘And so it came to pass that Popo soon had a thriving business, for the people were sore afraid of falling down into Hell. Before long he had built his own meeting place, which he called a church. This is where the Christians came to receive their instructions, for which they would pay Popo, who soon became very rich.
‘And so the
soon became the most successful franchise of its day, much bigger than MacDonalds or Coca-Cola. Within ten years Popo had churches all over Popo Church Europe, for which he had appointed managers whom he called priests, bishops and cardinals, according to the amount of money they collected. And like Moses, he lived for over a thousand years, because he could afford all the best medicines.
‘But all good things come to an end. After a thousand years of prosperity, the Popo Franchise was hit by an unexpected recession. All this came to pass after Marco Polo came back from
with some one-finger gloves, made of the finest silk. These were called ‘condoms’, being named after the Chinese manufacturer, Chon Dom. China
‘For lo and behold, this magic condom, when unfurled upon a rampant manhood, could prevent the conception which resulted from the bouncing carnal embrace which was the main nocturnal pleasure of the people.
‘But agony for Popo, for this simple condom soon caused a slump in the fortunes of the once prosperous Popo Franchise. The revenue from christenings and funerals was down, and the population was shrinking. So the Pope wrote an Encyclical Letter explaining that the condom was the work of the devil, and that carnal unions were intended by God to produce more Christians, and not for providing pleasure. The condom was banned.
‘But the ways of the Lord are strange, for more trials and tribulations now befell old Popo. The Christians preferred more pleasure and less children, so they didn’t like his instructions and stopped coming to Popo’s church. So his revenue fell further.
‘But in these times of tribulations, worse was to come. People began dying from a strange disease, further reducing Popo’s takings in the collection plate. And since this disease was transmitted during carnal union, only the condom could stop the disease spreading. Now old Popo fell into serious error. Instead of permitting the condom, he instead banned all carnal union except for the purpose of procreation, and when issued with a licence by Popo.
‘But the disease stubbornly refused to obey Popo’s commands, instead spreading rapidly amongst the priests, bishops and nuns, strangely defying their chastity. With a shortage of both priests and congregations, the
now couldn’t even collect enough money to feed the bishops’ children in the Popo Orphanage. Popo Church
‘Poor old Popo was now in despair. As a last resort, he decided to do something he hadn’t done for years. He knelt down to pray.
‘And even for Popo, if you have faith, the Lord will give you a miracle. No sooner had Popo knelt down than Jesus appeared before him. And Popo spoke to him, saying Jesus, thank God you’ve come. These people are refusing all my commands and doing as they please. What shall I do?
‘And Jesus spoke gently to him, saying Poor old Popo, you have misunderstood my Testament. I spoke in parables in order to prod the moral conscience of the people, and to remind them of the Word of the Lord, but then I always left them to make their own decisions.
‘And so it came to pass that the next day old Popo issued his last Encyclical, in the form of a brief statement in which he declared that In all matters of morality, Christians must decide their own course of conduct, according to their own conscience, their own reading of the Word, their own special circumstances, and their own relationship with God.’
‘So what does this parable mean to us?’ asked Mubanga, as she closed the book.
‘It means,’ said Prisca, ‘that we have no need of priests, bishops and Popos.
‘It means,’ said Bwalya, ‘that we have no need of churches, alters, or statues.
‘It means,’ said Phiri, ‘that we are members of the New Democratic Church’.
‘It means,’ said Chaloka, ‘that we can sit under a tree and decide things for ourselves.
‘It means,’ said Luwaya, ‘that we can be Christians every day of the week, and not just on Sundays.’
‘It means,’ said Suwilanje, with a gleam in her eye, ‘that we can use condoms.’