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September 2012 Contest Results

Time Traveling Pope Contest Responses




From contest judge Charles E. Gannon, coauthor with Eric Flint of 1635: The Papal Stakes:

Vanessa Landry and David Ruzicka both win with John Paul II. (Although Vanessa suggests sending Ratzinger along as the brains behind the throne, I don’t think that’s necessary. Karol/JP2 will have Vitellleschi, after all).

But of all the people to choose from, two contestants pick the same! And the very same who turned Vatican II’s “suggestions” into canon, no less, which is of course central to the theological plot of Papal Stakes.

I enjoyed all the proposals, either for their insight or humor. (And sometimes, both!) Great submissions!

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David Ruzicka:

I would choose Former Pope John Paul II.

To make sure that the person would be able to assimilate into society in 1635, and to act as Pope, it would be necessary to have a person who could speak Latin, Italian, and know the workings of the cardinals and church. In addition, John Paul II lived to see space exploration, genetics and modern science's power to change society. Further, he was a great scholar and lived through the oppression of WWII. He witnessed the struggles for equality that occurred in the USA in the 1960s and South Africa's Apartheid. He also witnessed the growth of women's equality around the world as well as gay and lesbian issues. Pope John Paul II was intelligent and knew how far to push the envelope without crossing the line of being labelled insane or of being a heretic discarding the foundations of the church.

I believe an agent for the Vice Lord of Time Travel Conspiracies would be as inconspicuous as possible in order to gently manipulate how people thought in order to affect enlightened change. I don't believe that a pop star, such as Mick Jagger, or a politician such as Mikhail Gorbachev would have the language abilities, knowledge of the Catholic Church, or sensible judgement to pass themselves off as a believable Pope in 1635. Furthermore, I don't believe the church of 1635 would tolerate a non-white person, or a woman, as Pope. I'm not a bigot or biased against women, I am merely making my case for a believable agent that could blend into 1635s Italian society. For all these reasons, I believe the best person to send back for this mission would be Pope John Paul II when he was healthy (About a decade before he passed away). His knowledge of science and cultural history would equip him with the tools to usher in an age of revolution and enlightenment.

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Sam Westbrook:

If I were really wanting to kickstart the Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment early, I’d send C.S. Lewis back in time.  You want to send someone back who can work within the framework of Christianity or the Catholic church. You don’t want this person too religious as to oppose scientific research, but not too scientific-minded as to try to do away with Christianity altogether.  It’d be tempting to send back Albert Einstein, though I doubt a Jew suddenly becoming pope would be tolerated, and Einstein himself may not be religious enough. I believe C.S. Lewis would have enough of the scientific principles to lead the world of 1635 into the Age of Enlightenment, yet still work within the framework of Christianity as to not rock the boat too much.

However, there is the part of me that says rock the boat, capsize it, and make waves from the big ol’ splash of the contents falling into the water, and come what may.  In that aspect, I’d recommend the writers of the Principia Discordia to be pope.  Maybe they can alternate days on which they’re the pope, sorta like Lazarus Long’s daughters alternated days on which was the captain.  Maybe one can be the pope and the other can be the brains behind the pope.  Too many rules, too much hierarchy, way too much organization; something needs to be done.  The Catholic church took itself way too seriously –still does to this day- and needs to not take itself so seriously.  Such an apple of Eris could do the job, and it would be to the fairest.

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Steve Schaper:

Your best bet from those three would be the politician. The real problem was Galileo's total lack of good grantsmanship. The Pope was his patron and was backing him until Galileo insulted the Pope publicly. A competent politician might be able to smooth over those ruffled feathers.

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Chuck Bernard:

Such a question! With only 6 billion odd possible answers....

I'd send John F. Kennedy.

JFK had a combat veteran's distaste for war and a statesman's view of how to avoid such conflicts. His strong stand on separation of church and state, combined with his abhorrence of conflict and suffering would be resisted by many of the religious leaders of the times, but would garner support from many of the secular leaders, who were in the midst of great difficulties caused by the Reformation in their world of one State one religion.  The combining of Church and State made incorporating newly acquired territory difficult at best, and at worst prevented such acquisitions from being profitable. Jack was extremely charismatic, quick witted and persuasive...all vital components of a major leader in turbulent times.

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Vanessa Landry:

I would send Joseph Ratzinger, more commonly known as Pope Benedict the XVI, and Karol Woitjwa (AKA Pope John Paul II).  

I understand that these are probably both popular choices, but perhaps not as commonly mentioned together.  Ratzinger's powerful intellect and rigorous historical understanding coupled with Woitjwa's deep understanding of human nature, and his obvious faith would be unbeatable.

This is not merely the answer of an enthusiastic Catholic. :)  Joseph Ratzinger was the power behind the throne and chief strategist for the more popular Pope John Paul II. .He is a rigorous historian and eminent theologian. He also possesses great strength of character that is not often noticed by the popular press. His final project in the Hitler Youth was to write a Thomistic treatise debunking race "science".  As he got older he got very adept at political wrangling, which won him the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Not only is he  outspoken, but also thick skinned. Galileo's potty mouth and nasty backstabbing wouldn't phase him.  His even temper would incline him toward fairness... and mercy.

Karol's guileless charm, acting gift, yet powerful determination and dynamic devotion would make him a fantastic face-man, confidant, assistant strategist and spy.While it probably isn't relevant, I imagine that Karol and Ruy Sanchez would become fast friends, and have some daring-do both in the Curia and on the streets of Rome.   He did, after all, survive war-torn Poland while occupied both by the Nazis and the Russian Communists.  Can you say, Inter-Dimensional Man of Mystery? 

 Both Joseph and Karol would of course would be younger (and in the latter case, alive), yet would have memories of their own tenure in the Seat of Peter.  I have to send both. Otherwise, would be like sending Fr. Mazare to Venice without Simon. Too bad I won't see the look on Fr. Mazare's face... before he faints!

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Neil McLennan:

I would send Chuck Norris

Because they would listen to Chuck no matter what the language or culture was. He has the skills and abilities to survive in a 17th  C. Chuck Norris is Awesome and he dont take no shit from anyone. As you can see I am not serious about the contest as it doesnt matter who we sent, they wouldnt be listened to or survive for very long. Food, disease, crime, religion or politics would hurry on their death.

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Geoffrey "The Great" Stein:

When I first read the question I came up with an instantaneous answer. The one individual I would send back in time to kick start a scientific revolution would be world renowned astrophysicist Michio Kaku. His experience and knowledge is right up there with the other giants of science history but where he has a distinct edge is in his soft toned voice and uncanny ability to make the most complicated features of the cosmos seem understandable to the average person. My life, knowledge, and understanding of the world changed dramatically when I read his book Physics of the Impossible. I was reading about such topics as faster than light travel, various types of rocket propulsion, parallel universes, and the multiverse. Normally those subjects would go over a person’s head with complete confusion but the way he writes and explains it all a grade school student would be able to understand everything with clarity in their mind. Michio Kaku is without a doubt the most qualified teacher to send back in time to assist Urban VIII in kick starting a scientific revolution of enlightenment and knowledge.

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E. Susan Baugh:

Carl Sagan fits your description perfectly. He lived from 1934 to 1996. Forty six years (all of his adult life) was lived after 1950. While he was a man who was noted for his many achievements in the sciences, he will be remembered as someone who popularized science to the masses.

In 1994 he received the Public Welfare Medal, the highest award of the National Academy of Sciences for "distinguished contributions in the application of science to the public welfare." This award reads as follows:

"Carl Sagan has been enormously successful in communicating the wonder and importance of science. His ability to capture the imagination of millions and to explain difficult concepts in understandable terms is a magnificent achievement."

In my mind the only other candidate for this time traveling pope contest could be Stephen Hawking. Unfortunately Dr. Hawking contracted motor neurone disease in 1963, which is similar to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. He is now almost entirely paralyzed and communicates through a speech generating device.  His physical health makes him too fragile to be time traveling or living in 1635 with its primitive health care and crude sciences.