In one of those strange synergies that seem especially to accompany tragedies, like the death of Diana within days of Mother Teresa’s, or Johnny Cash and John Ritter dying on the same day, the Pope and Terri Schiavo are now inextricably linked in the news, by the fact that they are both on a feeding tube. It seems like it should be significant. Because we are creatures, who, for good or ill, are essentially programmed to see connections and patterns, we lend a kind of sacred significance to coincidence. Sometimes it seems like poetic justice.

This morning, as the Pope's conditioned worsened and he seemed to be coming to the end, you had CNN correspondents wondering aloud if the Pope had a living will. It seemed a little silly to me, somehow. Not that living wills are a bad idea for the rest of us. But, come on, people have been dying now for a long time. Lord knows modern Americans invented equality, justice, and sex, but death's been around a while. And honestly just because one poor brain-dead woman's parents and husband bickered over her wishes on TV, doesn't mean that all the sudden the rest of the world has forgotten how to die. We do get very carried with ourselves, don't we? It's really a mark of our Age of Hysteria that we get so wrapped up in the spectacle we lose all sense of the reality outside of the bubble.

Rest assured, the Pope is not going to become a Terri Schiavo. Some scheming power-hungry cardinal will rip that feeding tube right out before the situation can get out of hand.


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