Well... at least the monks he described for me during his recent pilgrimage to the holy monasteries of Chengde. Though the monks he met were far from venerable ascetics. Rather than being free from such mundane cares as abject materialism, these so-called monks seem to have fleeced his entire entourage instead by offering prayers for coin.
White-washing matters indeed - when in reality it sounded more like religious extortion!
Bogus Monk #1 : Give me money for incense or you'll have endless life cycles of misery and poverty!
Bogus Monk #2 : And your lil dog too!
Bogus Monk #1 : Empty your pockets now! A hundred more yuan and your prayers will reach the ears of Buddha himself!
Obviously the devout followers in Calvin's troupe readily handed over their bulging purses to these opportunistic brigands - no doubt hoping to achieve divine nirvana by paving their way with yuan. With the foreboding threat of endless suffering hanging over their heads ( thanks to the faux monks ), I doubt the terrified pilgrims could have done any less.
Really! Seems like a profitable joint-venture that I should be getting into!
Warning : What comes next is so wickedly blasphemous ( despite being wildly hypothetical ) that religious folks should scurry away.
All I need is to set up shop at a venerable temple. Stumble into saffron-coloured robes and chant some esoteric mantras. Claim divinity and start charging the pious votaries who'd flock to my temple of divine awesomeness to receive indulgences. Seriously.
Follower : Oh father, I have sinned.
Paul : No problemo. Hand over that jade necklace around your neck and all your sins will be absolved.
Follower : Thank you father!
Paul : Oh and that diamond ring too. Om.
Eating miserly tofu and rice for all the devotees to see - but no doubt staging lavish orgiastic banquets just behind the walls of the monastery.
In between serving my profane needs, the novitiates would have to build up their strength with daily exercise!
Can't possibly do all that hallowed work alone of course! So I'll have dozens of gorgeous young novitiates - possibly coerce the devout but dimwitted villagers to offer their virile sons to me for spiritual tutelage. Can already imagine the various heavenly positions they'd all have to master from the Unholy Book of Sodom & Gomorrah.
Novitiate : Am I performing the sacred ritual correctly, father?
Paul : Bend over a lil more. Oh God YES! You're doing it perfectly.
Hell, I wouldn't be the first to attempt a defrocking.
Divine comedy aside, I find it despicable that such opportunistic fiends should prey on the beliefs of the pious ( and their apparent naiveté! ). Really. Granting indulgences? Didn't we get over all this with the Reformation already?