So, it looks like the novel idea is going to work. The novelist/poet I met on IIDB has proposed a synopsis, which I think is very fun and creative. Here is the potential synopsis he posted on IIDB today:
In the near future, the Pope gives a rambling — drunken? — speech in public at the Vatican, on Christmas Eve, promising “startling revelations” about the history of Christianity. He also invites young boys in the crowd to “come sit in Santa’s lap.” Mortified aides manage to rush him from the balcony. The world is aghast, and wonders if the Pope has lost his marbles.
A few days later, the Vatican announces that the Pope has died suddenly of a heart attack — though the youthful, charismatic Church leader, who has captivated the world, is only 45, but also rumored to have a weakness for strong drink and young male flesh. However, no one has been able to prove these rumors, but his sudden death raises suspicions everywhere, especially after he is succeeded by a staunch, 80-year-old conservative who vows to restore the primacy of Roman Catholicism “around the world,” by force if necessary, and who announces that the Vatican is pursing nuclear weapons. Many people liken the new Pope to a Catholic version of the late Vladimir Putin, who was deposed by the Russian military after his invasion of Ukraine produced a calamitous quagmire. To reunite Russia, power is bestowed, at least nominally, on the Russian Orthodox church, with the new head of state Patriarch Kirill.
One man, however, thinks he knows the truth about the Pope’s mysterious demise.
He is a self-styled “renegade investigative historian” named Rosco Spangler. Spangler was the author of the monumental “The Metaphysics of History, Volume 1: Ontological and Epistemological.” But he renounced teaching altogether and his own book in particular on the grounds that all of a history was “an idealist construct with no ontological grounding.”
He has long been in touch with renegade operatives within the Vatican who have been feeding him, via a secure internet connection, long-buried documentation from the archives of the Vatican concerning the “true” history of the Church, which suggests that its accepted past is a “metaphysical forgery.” Spangler is awaiting the biggest prize of all — the touted “confessions of St. Paul” — when the renegade Pope dies, but his contacts assure him that the pontiff was in fact poisoned, because he had decided to open the archives to all, including the mysterious “Confessions.”
As will develop in the novel, the “Confessions” reveal that Saul/Paul conspired with others to basically invent a version of Christianity at odds with the actual life of Christ, and that there was no substitutionary sacrifice and that there was no resurrection. There will be bombshell revelations of who Christ really was and what he actually stood for.
But after death of the Pope, Spangler’s contacts with the renegades inside the Vatican are abruptly terminated. Spangler then launches himself on a world quest to find the truth behind history’s greatest metaphysical deceit. His journey takes him from the wastelands of Chile’s Atacama desert, with its mysterious sculpture of a left hand presiding over a vast and lifeless desolation, to a bordello in Paris, where he begins a passionate love affair with a transsexual prostitute named Black Rose, who later turns out to be a spy working to destroy Spangler; it takes him from the bowels of Area 51, where he views the remnants of a giant crashed flying saucer, to the icy, windswept doorstep of the Himalayas, where he meets a hermit stylite who proclaims himself to be the direct lineal descendent of the only son sired by Christ and conveys to him by memory alone the entirety of the Confessions of St. Paul.
Along the way we will encounter a telepathic dog named Veritas, a Russian fortune teller who retrodicts the past rather than predicts the future, a very old man with a long white beard in a dive punk bar on Manhattan’s Lower East Side who insists that he is the Wandering Jew, and the ghost of Jorge Luis Borges, who is the proprietor of a infinite bookstore at the center of the earth, infinite because its branches extend into higher spatial dimensions; in fact into Hilbert Space.
Meanwhile the Vatican, under its mad new Pope, had made an alliance of convenience with the new Orthodox Russia, which has supplied him with nuclear weapons. The deranged pontiff is preparing to launch a volley of nukes at the “heathen world,” specifically identified as Islamic nations and “secular America.” Spangler finds himself in a race against time to bare the metaphysical forgeries of Christianity — specifically Roman Catholicism — as revealed by the Confessions of St. Paul, and in so doing perhaps precipitate the downfall of all the Christian churches and save the world from nuclear annihilation.