It was forty years, almost to the hour. The commission had gathered, yet again, essentially stranded on a desert island. Raymond Romans patiently opens the meeting: “Let us start with the concern of leading others astray.”
Oliver Overland immediately responds, “As I’ve always said, the subject matter is extremely grave. Extreme diligence must be exercised so as to not scandalize the faithful.” Carl Cassidy interjects, “Who are we concerned about?” Oliver is temporary silenced.
Raymond intones, “Let us continue with the issue of proper authority.” Oliver rapidly chants, “As I’ve always said, the verbal instructions were unclear.” “But everyone heard,” chimes in Karl Kennedy, “and the substance was sufficiently clear.” “But the Pope was laughing so hard,” sings Oliver. “That was understandable,” deadpans Karl, “or do you not see why?” Again, Oliver is silenced.
The meeting had degenerated into a replay of the last twenty years, with their beard growth being the only sign of progress. Mechanically, Raymond cites the last item: “The remaining question is whether the scientific community has spoken with sufficient clarity.”
Oliver instantly reports, “As I’ve always said, we cannot go beyond science. There simply are too many unanswered questions.” Karl interposes, “Have we stated anything they could possibly object to?” Again, Oliver has no answer.
Raymond regurgitates, “It is my belief that all concerns have been sufficiently addressed by either proper qualification or through exclusion. As only Oliver still has objections, the question remains what modifications are necessary to obtain his approval.”
Somewhat sheepishly, he responds to the chagrin of the others, “Let me hear the text one more time.” Raymond reads:
This commission, with full and sole authority, granted by the Holy Father himself, as he arose to meet Christ in the sky, as witnessed by this commission, has diligently examined the question of whether the world has ended.
After extensive study and massive investigation, we report that no evidence is to be discovered which contradicts what can be deemed as an empirical fact: time has ceased and history has ended, with the sole exception of this commission, which of logical necessity was excluded.
This finding was meticulously compared with the dogmatic teaching of the Church and was found to be in full accord. And so, after prayerful consideration, and with unanimous agreement, we thereby proclaim the following:
We declare that it is credible and worthy of belief for the faithful to maintain and adhere to the supposition that the world has ended.
All eyes are upon Oliver when all at once begins the barrage. Elliot Ellingson demands, “How many times must we walk across the oceans, on the waves frozen in time, in search of life?” Carl insists, “Isn’t it just a little unusual, there has been no sun for the last forty years?”
Oliver whimpers, “Yes, but explain the light shining everywhere.” Karl contends, “Such details have been omitted. What more can we possibly investigate?”
As the salvo slowly reechoes into silence, a miracle happens. Oliver stutters, “Okay, I will agree.” In shock, they all sign the document after gaining Oliver’s signature.
Suddenly, even before the ink dries, Saint Peter appears! He carefully examines the decree and then extolls: “Excellent job!” Subsequently adding, “And so quick!”
The entire commission is in jubilation as they are lead out to the balcony. “You know, this Square was named after me,” says Peter smilingly. Then unexpectedly, in horror, Oliver begins shouting: “Look! There are people below!”
Elliot takes out his binoculars and amplifies: “They are attaching flyers to the front windows of those cars.” Flabbergasted, Carl and Karl enquire in unison, “Why have we never seen them before?” Peter sighs and informs, “They seldom come out anymore: they are mostly on the Internet these days.”
Raymond bursts out, “But what are they doing?” Frowning, Peter explains: “They are promoting Bayside.” Greatly astonished, Raymond exclaims, “Still!!! When will they stop???” As they began their assent to Heaven, Saint Peters shakes his head and sadly reveals: “No one knows. Nobody knows…”