In exchange for the purchase of the abandoned Church properties by the Government on what she called "very favorable terms," the Presiding Bishop said that she had agreed on behalf of the Church to purchase in return a substantial quantity of collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs, specially packaged for the Church by an organization which "the President strongly endorsed," she said. "Oh, darn---I can't remember the name off the top of my head, but I know it's really, really special," she told this interviewer.
"I have it in my notes here---oh, yes, here it is. It's called the 'Association of Community Organizers for Resurrection Now', or 'ACORN' for short. Do you get it? You see, we Episcopalians use Jesus Christ as a symbol of resurrection---not literally, of course; as I told Bishop Mathes and his people, Easter is more profoundly about meaning than mechanism. So Jesus is 'resurrected' after a fashion, in the spiritual sense, of our lifting him up, and he was a community organizer! Isn't that just brilliant, naming the organization like that? The President told me it's an offshoot of another group he's known personally for a long time. He assured me 'on his Scout's honor' that he has had it properly established by Attorney General Holder, specifically so that the Government can work with religious groups without running afoul of the First Amendment, or things like that. It's supposed to help 'resurrect' the economy---do you get it now?"
"I'm no lawyer," she added. "But my Chancellor assures me that he has looked at it, and that it represents a wonderful opportunity for the Episcopal Church to make good on its promise of reparations to the President and those others who demanded it when I was with them last October, while we also do our part to help the economy. We are still trying, as you know, to apologize for all my bigoted predecessors, including especially that Presiding Bishop I recently deposed---posthumously, mind you. (I forget his name just now, but the Press Office can tell you all about it.)"
Asked what benefit the Church will realize from the deal, the Presiding Bishop waxed enthusiastic as she explained: "Isn't it obvious? We get all these unused properties taken off our hands for a very good price. My Chancellor says he can double our next year's lawsuit budget by giving the Church a discount based on the commissions his firm will earn on the sales alone, and then by the end of next year he hopes to have at least another dozen or more properties to sell to the Government."
"Oh, it really will be just wonderful," she burbled, growing ever more enthused as she went on. "I'm sure that our forebears---peace be upon them"--- ("Isn't that a great expression?" she interrupted herself. "I just learned it.") "As I say, I'm sure that our forebears (peace be upon them), for whom we held on to and fought for these properties as a sacred trust, would be delighted to see the uses to which they can finally be put. In a world of hope and change, this represents the best way to continue their faith and trust in us that I could ever imagine. Times have changed so much since they built those properties for the Church they so loved. And now that same Church also has to change with the times, as I'm sure they would have been the first to acknowledge."
"But the real plus is that this deal---I mean, agreement---solves a problem that was threatening to become too big for us," she continued in the same warm vein. "We trade those unproductive and toxic assets, which are a big drain on our budget, for the revenues to be earned from investing the sales proceeds in the CDOs of that inspired ACORN outfit. It, in turn, uses the money from what we purchase to buy up distressed homes that are in foreclosure, and which then secure the CDOs in some way I don't pretend to understand." Here she laughs, and putting her hand on this interviewer's arm, she adds: "But my Chancellor tells me it's all really, really secure."
"You see," she explains, "each such property that ACORN acquires, the President told me, qualifies ACORN for an extra government subsidy which it then uses to fix up the properties and rent them out for a song to certain qualified and registered voters, who have to meet some sort of test--- I think having to do with who they voted for in the last election, but I wasn't exactly clear on the details. Plus that extra subsidy, along with what rent they manage to collect, enables ACORN to pay us the interest on our CDOs. They are tax-exempt, and we are too, so it all comes straight to us as a return on our investment---much, much better than we were doing trying to rent out those abandoned properties."
The Presiding Bishop then finished on a triumphant note: "As for ACORN, its new renters are employed by the Government to go out and sign up more voters, who then help to elect the members of Congress who authorize more subsidies, and more funds to buy more abandoned Church properties, and the whole clever cycle just goes on and on. Everyone comes out a winner---that's why it's such a wonderful deal. I just could not pass it up, once it all was explained to me."
But what does the Government plan to do with all of the abandoned churches it acquires? this interviewer asked.
"Oh, that's the most ingenious part of all," the Presiding Bishop responded. "We were afraid that it might sell them, and that certain unsavory competitors, who shall not be named, might buy them at a good price. So David (that's my Chancellor) negotiated a special rider on the deal that prohibits the government from doing any such thing with the properties. And we were fine when President Obama told us that he wanted to be able to use part of the space, and some of the smaller churches, to open up more abortion--- er, I mean, health clinics. I've offered Dean Ragsdale of Episcopal Divinity School and RCRC as the coordinator to work with President Obama on staffing them. But it really was no problem, because President Obama explained that he had a very different idea in mind for the larger properties, and for the rest of the space not used for clinics."
And what was that? we asked.
"Well, to really understand what he plans, I'll have to show you the pictures he showed me," she said. "You see, the Government can't be in the business of renting the properties out for sectarian religious purposes. But he said his Attorney General had cleared the Government's ability to use them for secular meetings, for which they are especially well suited. Here---you'll understand better after I show you the pictures he showed me---they still have his captions on them."
With the permission of the Presiding Bishop, those pictures are reproduced below. They do, on this first day of April, indeed explain it all.
Where I got my idea.
One of my Temples, after remodeling
A "Temple toga" design just for me
--by my good friend Naomi