"Vita est lavorum."
That's Latin for "Life is a job." I didn't learn that in school or even from a book. I learned that from Father
For younger readers, that name may draw a blank. Father Guido wasn't a real person. He was a fictional priest played by comedian and writer
His most famous routine involved explaining how a secret letter discovered at
But this letter overturned all that. It turns out life is a job, and your wage is $14.50 a day. When you die, you go through a long dark tunnel, and at the end of it there is God, waiting for you, and he pays you your money. But there's a catch: He counts up all your sins, and you have to pay for them right there.
"Maybe you've heard that expression, 'You have to pay for your sins'?" Sarducci would say. "That's the truth. You do have to pay for your sins -- in cash."
Steal a bag of potato chips when you're a little kid? Six bucks. Each time you lied? Ten dollars. And so on.
I always thought the bit was hilarious. But two stories in the news this week made me think of it -- and neither is funny.
The first was a report out of
This came on the heels of
Sorondo's comments were especially galling because they amounted to nothing less than bearing false witness. He went on at great length about how the Chinese "do not have shantytowns," and Chinese young people "do not take drugs," thanks to
It's true that under
The point is that Sorondo admires the state part of state capitalism. And the Chinese state's effort to promote a "positive national conscience" is decidedly at odds with any sane definition of Christian conscience.
The second news item comes from a chilling article in The
This will all be tallied into what Mitchell and Diamond call a "citizen score." Even being friends with a "subversive" could lower your score, thus encouraging people to stay away from dissidents for fear of losing privileges. An internet privacy expert says, "What China is doing here is selectively breeding its population to select against the trait of critical, independent thinking."
This citizen score sounds an awful lot like Father Guido's "Vita est lavorum": Work for the state, get a good score. Fail and pay the price. But there are two key differences. First, Father Guido's bit was about getting into heaven -- which the atheist government of