Perhaps it will be discovered someday that religion is just a Live Action Role Playing game. That would explain a lot. This week, University of Rome faculty protested the Pope’s possible speaking engagement at said university. The punchline was a press release today by the vatican urging the scientists to be more “open to other people’s opinion.” However, one of the benefits of being a scientist is that you don’t have to listen to any opinion – just facts. Tenured professors don’t even need to listen. Curiously, when I feel I need to be punished, I read the opinions of others in the letters to the editor in my local paper. the opinions of others make a ready stand -in for a few lashes. Its not quite as punitive as soul-crushing christian guilt, its not as dehumanizing as christian theology, nor is it as disempowering as christian prescriptions, but it does make me feel as though the world is a hellish, wicked place.