Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Dr. Beardlove: or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Episcopal Church

Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Skippy sits at her desk, cigar smoke wafting up through the light of the desk lamp.

Skippy (to phone):

This is Bishop Skippy speaking.

Windsor Bishop Manless:

Yes, ma’am.


You recognize my voice, Manless?


I do ma’am, why do you ask?


Why do you think I asked?


Well I don't know, ma’am. We spoke just a few moments ago on the phone, didn't we?


You don't think I'd ask if you recognized my voice unless it was pretty damned important do you, Manless?


No, I don't, ma’am. No.


Very well, now, listen to me carefully. 815 is being put on condition red. I want this flashed to all Standing Committees immediately. I shouldn't tell you this, Manless, but you're a good little patsy and you have a right to know. It looks like we're in a shooting war.


Oh, hell. Are the Africans involved ma’am?


That's all I've been told. My orders are for this church to be sealed tight, and that's what I mean to do: seal it tight. Now, I want you to transmit plan R, R for Rowan, to the HOB. Plan R for Rowan.


Yes ma’am. Plan R for Rowan, ma’am.


Now, last, and possibly most important, I want all privately owned computers to be
immediately impounded.


Yes ma’am.


They might be used to leak information to bloggers. I want every single one of them collected without exception. And after you've done that, report back to me.

Cut to: int. Diocese of Newark. Machines spring to life as a transmission arrives. Bishop John Shelby Dong is at his desk.

Goldie Kaeton:

Bishop Dong, I know you're gonna think this is crazy but I just got an updated lectionary from 815. It decodes as Left Wing Attack plan R. R for Runcie.


Goldie, how many times have I told you gals that I don't want no horsin' around in the pulpit?

Susan Russell:

Bishop Dong, is it possible that this is some kind of loyalty test. You know, give the go code and then recall to see who would actually go?


Ain't nobody ever got the go code yet. And old Skippy wouldn't be giving us plan R unless them Nigerians had already clobbered Pittsburgh and a lot of other towns with a sneak attack. Well ladies, I reckon this is it: nuclear litigation, toe to toe with the conservatives. Now look ladies, I ain't much of a hand at makin' speeches. But I got a pretty fair idea that something doggoned important's going on back there. But I want you to remember one thing, the folks at Integrity is a countin' on ya, and by golly we ain't about to let 'em down. Tell you somethin' else. This thing turns out to be half as important as I figure it just might be, I'd say that you're all in line for some important parishes and juicy stipends when this thing's over with. That goes for every last one of you, regardless of your race, color, sexual orientation or your creed (especially your creed). Now, let's get this thing on the hump. We got some litigatin’ to do.

Cut to: 815. Night. Skippy's voice booms over the PA. Lawyers and accountants stand listening.


Your Conservative has no regard for sensitive personal feelings, not even his own. And for this reason, I want to impress upon you the need for extreme watchfulness. The enemy may come individually, or he may come in strength. He may even come in the vestment of our own troops. But however he comes we must stop him. We must not allow him to gain entrance to this church. Now, I am going to give you three simple rules. First, trust no one, whatever his collar or rank, unless he is known to you personally. Second, anyone or anything that approaches within 200 yards of 815 is to be sued. Third, if in doubt, sue first, and ask questions afterwards.


Bishop Skippy, as a Windsor Bishop, it is my clear duty, under the present circumstances, to issue the recall code, upon my own authority, and bring back the Left Wing. I must ask you for the key and the recall code.

Skippy lifts a folder off of her desk and tosses it aside, revealing an order of deposition.


Do I take it, ma’am, that you are threatening a brother in Christ with deposition?


Manless, I suppose it never occurred to you that while we're chatting here so enjoyably, a decision is being made by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Joint Standing Committee in the war room at Lambeth Palace. And when they realize there is no possibility of recalling the Left Wing, there will be only one course of action open: total commitment. Manless, do you recall what Jesus once said about religion? He said religion was too important to be left to the Pharisees. When he said that, two thousand years ago, he might have been right. But today, religion is too important to be left to Christians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought. I can no longer sit back and allow Conservative infiltration, Conservative indoctrination, Conservative subversion, and the vast international rightwing Conservative conspiracy to suppress and disrespect all of our precious bodily fluids.

Cut to: int. War room, Lambeth Palace.

Archbishop Rowan Muffley:

Right. Now, Bishop Rigidson, what's going on here?

Bishop Gene Rigidson:

Your Grace, about thirty-five minutes ago, Bishop Katherine Jefferts Skippy, the commanding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, issued an order to the Left Wing of the House of Bishops. Now, it appears that the order called for the Bishops to attack their targets inside conservative dioceses. The bishops are fully armed with subpoenas and authorizations for same-sex marriages.


Bishop Rigidson, I find this very difficult to understand. I was under the impression that I was the only one in authority to change the doctrine of the Anglican Church.


That's right sir. You are the only person authorized to do so. And although I hate to judge before all the facts are in, it's beginning to look like Bishop Skippy exceeded her authority.


It certainly does. Far beyond the point I would have imagined possible.


Bishop Skippy called ACC headquarters shortly after she issued the go code. I have a partial transcript of that conversation if you'd like me to read it.


Read it.


She said, "Yes gentlemen, they are on their way and no one can bring them back. For the sake of our polity and our American way of life, I suggest you get the rest of the AC in after them, otherwise we will be totally destroyed by orthodox retaliatory ridicule. There's no other choice. God willing, we will prevail in peace and freedom from fear through the proliferation and essence of our natural fluids. God bless you all." Then she hung up. We're still trying to figure out the meaning of that last phrase, sir.


There's nothing to figure out Bishop Rigidson. The woman is obviously psychotic.


Well, I'd like to hold off judgment on a thing like that, sir, until the next General Convention.

Cut to: Diocese of New Jersey


Survival Kit contents check. In them you will find: four emergency subpoenas, four days concentrated emergency rations, one drug issue containing antibiotics, morphine, penicillin, vitamin pills, Nix, pep pills, Lindane, sleeping pills, Ovide, tranquilizer pills, one miniature combination Book of Common Prayer and the Kama Sutra, one hundred dollars in gold, nine packs of chewing gum, one issue of prophylactics, three lipsticks, three pair of nylon stockings -- shoot, a fellah could have a pretty good weekend in San Francisco with all that stuff....

Cut to: War Room, Lambeth Palace

Muffley (to telephone):

Hello? Hello, Archbishop Akinola? Listen, I can't hear too well, do you suppose you could turn the hymns down just a little? Oh, that's much better. Yes. Fine, I can hear you now... Clear and plain and coming through fine. I'm coming through fine too, eh? Good, then. Well then as you say we're both coming through fine. Good. Well it's good that you're fine and I'm fine. I agree with you. It's great to be fine. Now then Archbishop. You know how we've always talked about the possibility of something going wrong with the Church… The Church, Archbishop… The Episcopal Church. Well now what happened is, one of our bishops, she had a sort of, well she went a little funny in the head. You know. Just a little... funny. And uh, she went and did a silly thing. Well, I'll tell you what she did, she ordered her bishops... to marry homosexuals. Well let me finish, Archbishop. Let me finish, Archbishop. Well, listen, how do you think I feel about it? Can you imagine how I feel about it? Why do you keep laughing?


Your Grace, if I may speak freely, the African talks big, but frankly, we think he's short of know how. I mean, you just can't expect a bunch of ignorant savages to understand polity like some of our bishops.


Dr. Beardlove.

Dr. David Booth Beardlove wheels into the spotlight.


Archbishop, I would not rule out the chance to preserve a nucleus of Episcopalian specimens. It would be quite easy... heh heh... at the bottom of ah ... some of our deeper mineshafts. The Holy Spirit would never penetrate a mine some thousands of feet deep. And in a matter of weeks, sufficient improvements in dwelling space could easily be provided.


How would that be possible?


It would not be difficult mein Fuhrer! Nuclear reactors could, heh... I'm sorry. Archbishop. Endowments could provide money almost indefinitely. Greenhouses could maintain sweetgrass for smudging ceremonies. Parishes could be seized and liquidated. Of course it would be absolutely vital that our top lawyers and bureaucrats be included to foster and impart the required principles of leadership and discipline. There would be much time, and little to do. But ah with the proper breeding techniques and a ratio of say, ten males to each male, I would guess that they could then work their way to complete extinction in oh, about 20 years.


Doctor, you mentioned the ration of ten men to each man. Now, wouldn't that necessitate the abandonment of the so called monogamous sexual relationship?


Regrettably, yes. But it is, you know, a sacrifice required for the future of full inclusivity.

Cut to: Bomber approaching Lambeth


Target in sight. Where in hell is Bishop Dong?

Dong busily works to splice two wires together. He finishes and then attaches an alligator clip to a patch panel above his head. The bomb doors open. He grabs his mitre to keep it from blowing away in the sudden slipstream. The TEC-bomb is dropped, and Dong along with it.


Aaaaaa hoooo! Waaaaa hooooo!

Dong rides the TEC-bomb in its falling arc waving his mitre over his head, celebrating his success in ecstatic rodeo style. On reaching the ground, the bomb implodes without leaving a trace.

(Credit to The Kubrick Site for their continuity script)


Anonymous antique said...

I don't even know where to begin. Supreme is an understatement! You outdo yourself, Dr.

The names, the parallels--they're all perfect. And of course you captured the most important, anguishing and funny phrase of the whole move, "See, what happened is..."

I love it!

3:08 pm  
Blogger Dr. Alice said...

Brilliant. I love it. Considering the wild stuff that's erupted from 815 in the last 24-48 hours, I think PB Schori really has gone over the edge.

6:39 pm  
Blogger Kasia said...

I hadn't the foggiest idea what's been going on at 815 for the last two days, but now I see I'll have to skip around the blogosphere a bit. (Something tells me I'll once again be very relieved to have the Tiber - and TEC - behind me.)

Absolutely freakin' loved this, though - I could practically hear Peter Sellers and the rest of the cast.

9:28 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

I have to agree, the reports out of TEC have gotten so weird these last few days, "She went a little funny in the head" is beginning to be the only way I can explain it!

10:24 pm  
Blogger C. Andiron said...

You do Gen Ripper a disservice. As evil and mistaken as he was, at least he had sincere convictions.

I wish they had enough ability to laugh at themselves that they would agree to perform this as a short film. Who wouldn't pay big bucks to see that?
The parallels are striking, but then again maybe all bureaucracies are subject to this kind of rot.

9:17 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

True - I guess wherever paranoid, scared people get some power in their hands, you'll be able to find sharp parallels with Dr. Strangelove.

8:32 am  
Anonymous ellie m said...

Gentlemen! You can't FIGHT in the War Room!

10:21 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank Heaven we have Kate to keep pure all our precious Druids.


9:03 pm  
Blogger Alice C. Linsley said...

Thanks for posting this. I found it enjoyable reading and the bomb implodding was just the right touch!

9:40 am  
Blogger C. Andiron said...

They are flouridating the gospel.
"Your Conservative has no regard for sensitive personal feelings, not even his own."
Childrens' self esteem, Mandrake!
Childrens' self esteem!

It looks effortless, but probably took a lot of work. I love the little touches "regardless of your race, color, sexual orientation or your creed (especially your creed)". The coincidence of Spong/Kong is really bizarre (Spong even has a similar accent) - it reminds me of the synchronization of Dark Side of the Moon with Wizard of Oz.

2:56 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

Thanks for the kind words! I think I had the most fun making up the names - it IS striking how well one can "cast" members of the Episcopal/Anglican hierarchy as characters in Dr. Strangelove. The only hard part was deciding what to leave out!

4:17 pm  

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