“Religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden.” – Émile Durkheim
The monastery’s library was always the place to get the best-fried chicken. Father Julian felt terrible about eating there without a napkin, but he knew it was the only way to get to Heaven. All the monks and friars would show up in their swimming trunks on hot summer days, talking about the latest fashion trends in Catholicism.
Father Julian was tired of fashion. He wanted something more, like experiencing a religious vision or finally reading Moby Dick. But ever since the Russian invasion of outer space, the monastery had been very strict about what books he read. They knew their phones were tapped, and the Russians watched them constantly.
Living in a police state wasn’t bad for Father Julian until it made him itchy. He had no trouble praying to Putin in the morning; he liked it. The only problem he saw was that his roommate, Father Billy Bonzi, never washed his armpits. Billy Bonzi was a garbage man before joining the monastery, and the smell never left him for some reason.
It was almost Holy Week, and the monks knew what that meant: cleaning the bathrooms from top to bottom. The President would visit soon, along with the Pope and a limousine full of circus performers, and the place had to be spotless. Last year, when the President choked to death on a chicken bone, the monks were at the center of a global conspiracy.
After saying his last prayers, Father Julian finally got ready for bed around midnight. Billy Bonzi put his telescope away and cleaned his underwear while Julian got under his sheets. The moonlight peaked through the window, such a beautiful sight that Billy Bonzi cried and reminisced about the time he met Neil Armstrong. They knew everything would be all right as long as they kept their faith in nuclear science and kept exercising.