Scientists find god

(Reuters, London/New York/Mexico City) — A paper to be published in Nature this week will detail the discovery of a god in Mexico, academic sources say.

The discovery was of an incarnate deity identified as Xipe Totec, the Aztec god of agriculture, vegetation and the direction of east. He was found by the a team led by Moore Starkweather, an ethnobiologist of Harvard University, and Claudia Umbridge, professor of Mesoamerican archaeology at the University of Cambridge.

Starkweather, when contacted for comment, described the discovery as “an utter shocker in the groin”; his expedition had merely meant to investigate the local cult sites for burial pits of the famous Aztec human sacrifices. When they unearthed Xipe Totec in an underground pyramid know as Loltec Tlatlauhca, the Grave of the Red Smoking Mirror, they initially thought him a local trickster, playing dead for laughs.

“When he then rose and took off the skin he was wearing, and exhibited extraordinary resistance to handgun bullets, we thought, this guy really is something else. Not even Penn and Teller can catch that many! To our surprise he was perfectly fluent in English, though he wasn’t entirely up to date with American history.” According to Starkweather, Xipe Totec had promised to return from his Big Sleep, but had overslept. In the meanwhile his worshippers had perished, and “the local Catholic priest had no knowledge of Xipe Totec’s promise to return, so we kind of adopted him, seeing as he needed our help more than we his dominion. He’s a decent enough fellow, very old-fashioned and polite. As a funny anecdote, we had to tell him the cartoon Batman is not a god of ours; he was absolutely crushed but expressed interest in coming to America and meeting the voice actors anyway.”

Professor Thomas Griphook of Harvard described Starkweather’s find as “possibly the biggest shake-up in Mesoamerican history since the 1957 discovery of the Tlatcuachtl inscription”, adding it could also have repercussions beyond the field of ethnobiology. “Archaeology, for example, is sure to be impacted by this powerful new source of information.”

Xipe Totec is presently housed at the US consulate in Mexico City as a guest of the consul, and could not be reached for comment. The local newspaper Pollo a la Mexicana reports the consulate as being surrounded by black-burning flames and a cloud of several million red doves; local authorities could not provide a mundane explanation for this, what Starkweather calls “the honor guard of Xipe Totec”, one of many examples detailed in the Nature paper.

Starkweather wishes to stress he is not and has never been a Totecist, and neither has any of his expedition crew; to the best of his knowledge Xipe Totec is not engaged in missionary work at this present time; and is not interested in a revival of his former religious community. While ecumenical work will certainly rise to the forefront in the future, Starkweather adds this is “not the time to bloviate on whose god is real, and whose perhaps problematic”.

Mr. Williams Rowntree of the Southern Luthero-Baptist Seminary, when contacted for comment, commented that “this must be a confusion of some sort”. According to him, “godhood is a very delicate concept, and unlikely to be manifested in a manner as crass as what has been reported. But I remain open to arguments to the contrary.”

Mr. Raphael Velaquez of the Institute for Mesoamerican Antiquity expressed concern at the news. “Xipec Totec translates as ‘our lord the flayed one’, and while as a representative of the Institute I am a tremendously excited, given our current exhibit is ‘the Gods of the Aztecs’, personally I am a bit worried that there might be human rights issues in the play, regarding the widespread practice of flaying that accompanied the worship of Xipe Totec.” When asked if he accused Mr. Starkweather’s team of any impropriety, Mr. Velaquez declined to comment.

According to a Mexican government source that wished to remain nameless, Xipe Totec will be granted honorary Mexican citizenship upon request; this would be the first step of a unique and no doubt difficult process of naturalization.

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