Ndumiso Ngcobo
Ndumiso Ngcobo

The Pope and Balaam’s ass

I am a Catholic, albeit a semi-practising one. Don’t make me go into the detail — let’s just say the missus is not perpetually knocked up despite our nocturnal scrums every Tuesday night. I don’t have the full complement of Catholic sacraments but I have received Baptism, Holy Communion, Confirmation and Marriage. They’re still hogging the Death sacrament on the iffy grounds of my still being among the living. We’ll get there someday — baby steps and all that. So you can imagine that, like Catholics everywhere, I received the news about the Pope suffering a fall and fracturing his wrist a few weeks ago with a lot of concern. My first instinct was to wonder whether he’d fractured his left or right wrist. It’s an important detail — the Holy Father’s right hand doubles as a Holy Spirit applicator during Mass, see.

I read practically every report on the incident and I have to say, I hate it when the media does this to us ie hog the detail. For instance, I would have wanted to know what the Pope had been wearing during his holy tumble. Did his foot get caught in one of his flowing dresses? Did he emit a girly shriek of surprise as he fell and when he got up, did he yell, “Leave me alone Satan!” at no one in particular? That’s the kind of detail I want in such stories. At the risk of encouraging that evil Vaticanphobe Dan Brown I have to wonder if the Vatican is telling us everything about this or whether they’re pulling their regular stunts so aptly documented in The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. I’m being serious. Think about it; the Holy Father has a direct line to the Almighty, right? After all, that is what being Pope is essentially about; regular briefing sessions with God about — oh, I don’t know — all the ways in which the human race disappoint Him on a daily basis. God is omnipresent, omnipotent and all that other godly stuff, right? This means that He knew about the papal dive before it happened but didn’t see it fit to warn the Pope during their huddle preceding the plunge. That can only mean one thing; God wanted the Pope to fall! Logic therefore dictates that the Pope must have done something that irked the Almighty.

I know some of you are thinking, “Oh come on. That’s a quantum leap in logic”. All I have to say to you is “Oh ye of scant Bible study!” You see, God’s modus operandi when it comes to these things is very well-documented in the Bible. For starters, dissent doesn’t sit well with Him. There are many stories in the Bible about obstinate biblical figures that God had to punish for veering off the course He had established. That includes the quintessential Bearded One, Moses who ended up wandering the hot, dry, sandy desert for forty years with a scarf on his head, a fuzzy beard on his chin and only sandals for footwear. Then there’s Jacob whatshisname who decided to go all WWE Smackdown on the Lord. But my favourite story involving an individual not wanting to bow to God’s will has got to be a dude called Balaam. Now, I don’t know if everybody knows this but God doesn’t like talking to humans directly. He prefers the judicious use of objects, signs and symbols to get his messages across. Remember how He manifested as a burning shrub to park cheesy with Moses? Sometimes, just to exhibit his omnipotence he’ll even use talking serpents and such. That’s just how He rolls; in mysterious ways.

So, in any case; here’s this dude called Balaam speeding down the freeway on his ass. Don’t be daft; his ass as in his donkey. I think Balaam was late for a BEE meeting or something along those lines. Next thing he knows the bloody ass swerves and dives into some maize field or something like that. Balaam, irritated by the petulance of the beast, does what I’d also do in this situation and starts kicking the ass’s … well, ass. The stubborn animal won’t hear of it and refuses to get back on the highway. After a few times of this obstinacy, Balaam starts getting really medieval on the critter and may even have drawn his machete in the donkey’s face. Faced with the threat to its life, the poor ass had no choice but to start pleading with Balaam not slay it — using words! These are serious heavenly matters and I have steadfastly maintained the appropriate decorum thus far. But the bit that cracks me up about Balaam’s plight is that Balaam starts rapping right back at the beast! I wish I was making this up (Check Numbers chapter 22). Balaam is sitting up on an ass in some corn field, having a conversation. I don’t know about you, but if I was donnering, say, my pet kangaroo and it started talking to me, I wouldn’t calmly look at it and go, “Stop back-chatting you dirty marsupial!” I’d run out of my house faster than Usain and Caster’s lovechild. In any case, after a while the donkey revealed that the Almighty had been blocking the road because Balaam wouldn’t obey His instruction about not attending the BEE deal. Or something like that.

I know I have a tendency to go off on a tangent. Not this time. The reason I just shared the Word with you was to get to my next point. I suspect that the Vatican is hiding from us the fact that the Pope had had a difference of opinion with God prior to his fall. It could be any number of things. Let’s say God instructs the Pope to visit Zim and break bread with President Mugabe, for instance. We all know about His mysterious ways. I can see how the Pope, in his earthly, human frailty could resist this order to chill with an international pariah. But I imagine that God would point out that He is the God of all man, criminal, prostitute or Bob. And let’s say the Pope kept on giving God lip about this: “Aww come on G, not Zimbabwe!” Is it impossible for God to have pulled a Balaam on the Holy Father and spoke to him through a pet? I think not. The Pope was up on the mountains when the incident occurred. I think he was busy back-chatting to the Alpha and the Omega when a mountain goat just lumbered up to him from nowhere and said, “Listen dawg, you’re going to Zim and that’s all there is to it, kapish?”, the Pope freaked out, leapt out of his holy chair and landed on his wrist.

Oh, and I think the Pope is coming to Zim. Watch this space.

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  • pete ess

    The Pope and Bob. Twins. Power and bulldust for profit. Inc.

  • Rose

    yawn…..come on now!! After a 3 month break, i expected more juice!

  • Jon Cayzer

    This is seriously funny and well-written…and timely with Dan Brown’s new book coming out next week…

  • http://hardtalk Siphiwo Siphiwo


    gotta agree with you…this was too biblical for my liking!


  • LadY

    dont mind them i enjoyed the free biblical study course :)

  • baldev singh

    Very Amusing. Since God works in mysterious ways, maybe comrade Bob will resign, become Bishop of Harere and then onwards and upwards turn into the first black Papa (with two good wrists)

  • http://http:/richmarksentinel.com/ Lyndall Beddy

    More likely that God instructed the Pope to sort out the Caster situation and the fact that there are more than 2 sexes and after 2000 years of being wrong the Pope could not take it!

    Look how long it took for them to accept that the earth revolved around the sun?

  • Fr. John

    Very witty. Just one problem… The sacrament of death, dude? With that you show that you seriously ARE a semi-practising Catholic! What sacrament of death? All I can recall is the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick… Sacrament of death? I mean really! Feel free to join an adult enquiry class to brush up 😉

  • Moeti Kanyane


    Great to hear from you again. You really cracked me up with this one. Don’t make us wait for so long for the next post.

  • Pat Mlanduli

    “Usain and Caster’s love child” in retrospect…maybe not such a prude comment…
    Must say after Tom Hanks movies, I dont take anything that happens in the Vetican at face value…

  • james

    Hilarious…..good to have you back

  • Ariel

    hahaha… funny as hell…

  • pete ess

    Must confess I’d never heard of Balaam. Thought I’d heard all the Thy ox and thy ass, who begat X who begat Y, Beelzebub, etc. But I missed Balaam. Probly too busy staring at the Sunday School teacher’s thighs and daydreaming. Yes, I know where I’m going . . They wore miniskirts back then . . Twas the sixties . .

  • GW

    Balaam blown away that nobody saw the obvious here…the old goat has clearly been at the holy wine again!

  • Kevin Williams

    That made me smile and then issue a rare during-work belly laugh. Shot, and keep it up!

  • Dithabana

    Fascinating stuff!! I a witty way you just told us that we should not disobey God.

    Don’t laugh at our (meaning your)Pope. You might trippe brother.

  • May Theneplackal

    hahahahahahahahahahah!!! thanks for the laugh :)

  • Mthokozisi Mthethwa

    Mapholoba, i missed having to read your blog and laugh. Thank you for coming back, on your recent post before this, you promised to come back with something like this, and you delievered on your promise, that’s what writers do, good writers. I am getting your next book!

  • http://None.Toopoor. Azra

    “Logic dictates”? Since when is the Christian god (and every other god, for that matter), logical?
    The basis of (irrational) faith is ‘absence of logic’, and without irrational faith, there can be no belief in a god. There was no logic in god creating light and seeing it as good after having existed for billions and billions of years in gloriously good darkest of black. Get this straight, Christian, black is the ultimate good (ask any true-blue African); light is evil, otherwise Satan would not have started off as Lucifer, god’s brightest angel. The baby Jesus escaped Herod because in Egypt everybody was as black as Jesus. Put that in your pipe and do whatever, Christian. The story about Balaam is about how utterly illogical god is. Balaam wasn’t even a Jew; why is god talking to a gentile heathen whatever? Sheesh! And then there’s that talking ass? Give me a break! And the ass sees the truth before Balaam does? Jesus Christ! Is there no end to the mindlessness in this story? God eventually murders Balaam after playing nice-nice with him. This is your idea of a logical god? Why does the angel ask about the beating of the ass? The angel was right there and saw for him/her/itself. What a twit of an illogical angel! God=logical? Pshaw, to you, you, you semi-conscious practising jesuit-papist equivocator, you. Word-limit up. Catch you later, alligator.

  • Neuren

    Even this atheist enjoyed that. Maybe you should have been my RI teacher.

  • http://www.thoughtleader.co.za/silwane Ndumiso Ngcobo

    Azra – I don’t normally do this but; DUDE, PUT DA BONG DOWN! A waste is a terrible thing to mind. (Oh, I know YOU’ll get that one).

  • lunte

    Hawu Azra!
    This piece as with many of Ndumiso’s writing is meant to amuse than to be taken seriously… after along strenuous day, we all like a bit of light hearted reading… so take relax…

    Rather go read Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson’s blogs on the UK’S
    Guardian or UK’s Sunday Times, there’s something both offensive and amusing at the same time!!

  • http://None.Toopoor. Azar

    lunte, the best leaders of thought are those who can write amusingly without being inaccurate in their information. And about being “taken seriously” we are our truest selves when we set out to be amusing, because when we are amusing our guard is down. Hence, if in our humour we give out false information in order to entertain, we do more harm than mischievous liars. That is one of the reasons we teach our children not to crack jokes that are racist; that make fun of minorities; that promote stereotypes; et cetera. Very, very few believers in gods read their own holy scriptures. Those of us who take the time, have a responsibility to be rigorously accurate, especially when we are light and funny about it. A person does not have to be able to read or write in order to be ignorant, wrong, and brilliantly hilarious.

  • Bee

    LMAO! very nice..enjoyed that, it’ll definitely put me in a good mood for the rest of my day.

  • Joe McL

    Excellent. There’s so much going on here I could hardly keep track (it’s the first time I’ve read your column, won’t be the last), but it touched some ex-Catholic (now Atheist) nerves…Dan Brown novels and the Bible: Both posture as fact, both attract (and create) a good number of freaks, both sell plentylots…Dan Brown will soon be as rich as God, if he isn’t already.

    Not since God created Adam and Eve (or is it Adam and Steve? How accurate is the Bible?) has organised religion been in so much trouble. And it wasn’t Dan that did it, it was religion itself…Your article may be just a bit of humorous self-indulgence, or it may be evidence of a catharsis…I hope the latter. Good job.

  • Nondumiso

    Very hilarious Ndumiso, jst cudnt stop laughing. Azar, u need to loosen up, bro!!!

  • http://www.thoughtleader.co.za/silwane Ndumiso Ngcobo

    @Nondumiso – hands off Azar. He’s actually quite correct. Unless humour serves a specific, noble, nation-building purpose, it’s just counter-revolutionary twaddle. [Hangs head in shame]

    @John McL – I’m afraid this was just meaningless self-indulgence. [Sheepishly gnaws at nails]

    [Note to self: Jesus!]

  • http://None.Toopoor. Azra

    Dear Ngcobo, he is really, really quite incorrect. Since when has humour become a licence to misrepresent facts? P.S., I enter my comments under my proper name which is Azra. I don’t know why the powers that be keep changing it to “Azar”. It seems that incorrectness is a way of life even at the very highest levels on Thought Leader.

  • Gugu

    I’ve missed the first 8 minutes of Isidingo for reading this post…flipping hilarious!!! i daresay, well worth the wait. Welcome back Silwane :)

  • nina blair


    Get a life. It is meant to be funny, If you don’t like it, don’t read it. I am tired of sanctimonious pricks always spoiling other people’s fun.

  • http://lolonga.taligmail.com lolonga tali

    Heyta daar Silwane,

    Good to hear from you again, Silwane! It’s been some time. Anyway, apropos the fall of the pope (i think he should consider himself a tad fortunate that it was more literal than figurative!), i would venture to say: the rumours that God knew and somehow contrived not to appraise the pontiff about his imminent impugns His character.Yes God was there when the pontiff fell and yes He did not forget to break or stop that fall. Nor was He distracted or unsighted (at least He was not that busy to forget to look at His vicar!). Nor he did he look away to hide His face from what was about to happen. At least He does not do that. The thing is Silwane, the devil did it. Indeed Satan made the pope to fall! And i want to state categorically that it is unacceptable and we condemn it in the strictest possible terms. If we knew where he stayed, believe you me, we would march against this gross injustice. Suffice it to say that we are going to boycott him and withdraw our services from him.We are prepared to kill for the pope and he is one of us.We cannot stand by and watch him being fell by a dastardly counter-revolutionary like satan ( i wont even give him the honour of an upper case).

  • http://lolonga.taligmail.com lolonga tali

    Sorry Silwane, I just wanted to say …about his imminent fall (from grace?). There is satan again! You see! he makes forget to insert the right word. He is an enemy through and through!We cannot fraternise with the enemy. Period.

  • Neuren

    Lolonga, you got my chuckle for the morning.

  • http://gormendizer.co.za Johan Swarts

    roflmao! brilliantly written.

  • Jacqui

    Fr John, never heard of Last Rights?

    Go Ndumiso one of my favourite subjects too, sooo much fodder in bible stories.

  • Zama

    You are one crazy dude!

  • Andrew

    Dude. It has been a year now. Time for you to write some more …

  • K Mbewe

    Nice piece while on earth….. but will take you to the “Anathema Seat” – in Catholic Language.

  • Fidelia Arredondo

    The Della Valles will use the injury excuse to make sure Miha keeps his job.