Showing posts with label OpEd. Show all posts
Showing posts with label OpEd. Show all posts

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Handy Dandy Hiney Guide to How Not to Get Kicked out of Vatican City

The Roamin' Correspondent of the IC, Regina Hiney, creates a timely and handy guide as a Christmas gift to Vatican-bound travelers.

In light of recent unfortunate events of a topless feminist stealing the baby Jesus from the Vatican City Crèche this Christmas tide, I have done a bit of research and lo and behold, Vatican City (given its small population) actually holds the record for the highest crime rate in the world.  Now, not everyone gets exiled.  But enough folks have gotten banished, that it is abundantly evident that a Handy Dandy Hiney guide is sorely needed.

1.    Let us begin with the most recent faux pas.  If you are visiting Vatican City and you want to see the official Vatican City Nativity Scene, please remember to keep your shirt on and try not to take the baby Jesus as a souvenir.   This is considered very bad form and you will be exiled.  Having said that, let us take a exiled look through history:

2.   Don’t be an idiot Visigoth.  Idiot Visigoths may ransack Rome but Saint Jerome or someone of his grandeur will take time out of their day to excoriate you with their words.  Jerome defended his dear friend, 85 year old Saint Marcella who was murdered by the idiot Visigoths.   Who won?  Well, all parties are dead . . . But there are no more idiot Visigoths, 1.2 Billion Christians (and not a few idiots in their own right) and 2000 years later we still have both the Latin Vulgate of Doctor Saint Jerome and know of the heroic virtue of Saint Marcella.  Idiot Saints beat Idiot Pagans every day of the week and twice on Sundays.  If you want to remain in Vatican City, don’t ransack Rome and tick off our doctor-saints.

3.   Don’t be possessed by a demon.  Pope Francis exorcises the Vatican frequently.  The Saint Michael prayer is said daily.  Don’t want an exile?  Reject Satan.  And all his works.  And all his empty promises.  If a legion sneaks in, chances are, the exorcists will find you and they will expel you.  Don’t mess with the diabolical.  Seriously.  Even if you don’t plan on going to Italy.  Throw away the Ouija board. 
4.   Don’t be Pope during the reign of a jerky anti-pope.  An antipope is a person claiming to be Pope who was not duly elected or proclaimed while a duly elected Pope was still in office.  Now there have been quite a few antipopes in the 2,000 year history of the Catholic Church. Currently, there is a dude named Michael, living in Kansas with his mom, who claims to be the legitimate pope.  Pope Michael of Kansas is not the legitimate Pope.  Pope Michael might be legitimately crazy.  But he is mostly harmless, albeit schismatic.  Now, here is the very salient point, neither Pope Michael, nor his mom can exile Pope Francis.  This is NOT to say however, that there have been times when powerful crazy schismatics (and their moms) have not been so harmless.  If you don’t want to get banished from the Vatican, you want to avoid being pope when power crazy schismatics (and their moms) try to seize the chair.  Saint Silverius and Pope Vigilius (and Emperor Theodora) learned this the hard way.  So did Sultan Boabdil of Granada and his mother Aixa of the Nasrid Dynasty.

5.   If you ever find yourself writing the greatest piece of Italian poetry of all time, don’t place the reigning pope in the “Inferno” portion of your “Divine Comedy.”  Placing the reigning pope head first in a flaming baptismal font whilst his feet are being licked with scorching flames of burning embers is also considered bad form.  Folks have written things they regret.  Be it the politics of the Black and White Guelfs of Dante’s day or racial issues of modern America, don’t get sucked in.  And once a person gets defriended or exiled, they can’t take it back.  Dante wrote the greatest poem of Western Civilization.  He died banished and he may very well still be in his own Purgatorio.

6.   Don’t start your own church. 

    • If you got a beef with the bishop of Rome and you would STILL like to visit the Vatican Museum, think before you post your 95 thesis on the cathedral door.  And then, even if you post on the cathedral door and you “accidentally” get excommunicated over the small misunderstanding, should the pope summon you to appear at the Diet of Worms, show up.  They say that showing up is 80% of life.  But I say, showing up and communicating is always key to ending a Vatican Exile.  What you DON’T want to do, is call the letter of Saint James in Holy Writ an epistle of straw, call the Pope the antichrist, get involved in a peasants war, hide out in Wartburg Castle and marry a former nun.  Name calling, canoodling, and hiding rarely ingratiates yourself with the curia and it won’t get you an invite to the papal apartments come Christmas.
    • If you may have had a legitimate annulment claim according to Levitical law, but it was nullified by “interfering” Holy Sees, Spanish in-laws, and the lack of discretion by German princes, but you really should like to see that new statue everyone is yammering about over there at the Sistine Chapel, then sometimes, you have to suck stuff up, buttercup.  Festering leg wounds may never heal, but a fickle heart clearly will indeed.

7.   Incidentally, the Baby Jesus stealing friendly feminist was actually NOT the first woman interred in the Vatican jail and then banished from Vatican City.  Interestingly, when the little Vatican jail (whose one cell overlooks the Vatican gardens) opened in 1929, the first inmate was a Swedish woman who assaulted a member of the clergy.  She was given psychiatric tests and sent back to Sweden.   The best way to enjoy the Vatican gardens is by WALKING through them via a guided tour, or from the top of Saint Peters.  But if you have an axe to grind and are on a limited budget, the jail does offer a nice few, for a low price, for a limited time.  But chances are, it will be a once in a life time opportunity.

8.   Don’t steal alms from the poor.  After WWII, an Italian man broke into a alms box in Saint Peter’s.  He was held in the Vatican jail.  He was not allowed to return to Vatican City.

9.   Avoid assassinating popes.  Sure, this may SEEM obvious.  But not for the reasons you may think.  
    • If the Pope dies, chances are, you just made him a martyr.  He goes straight to heaven and Catholics all over the world have a powerful intercessory saint at their disposal.  And he’s going to be praying an Assassin’s Creed (HA!) for your sorry soul. 
    • If the Pope does NOT die.  He will look for you.  He will find you.  And he will forgive you.  Then you will have an awkward conversation in your jail cell.  Avoid an awkward conversation in your jail cell; don’t try to assassinate the pope.  Plus, the Swiss Guard won’t give you a “bye” on your banishment from Vatican City if you ever get out of jail.

10. Finally, if you get hired as a butler for the Pope, don’t steal his personal papers.  And if you “accidentally” pick up his personal papers because you “accidentally” put your Sudoku game book on top of the Pope’s first draft of Deus Caritas Est.  Don’t “accidentally” give them to an Italian journalist.   You will find yourself banned from Vatican City.  Especially if the original title of the encyclical was tentatively; “What’s love got to do with it?” 

--Regina Hiney, Roamin' IC Correspondent

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Handy Dandy Hiney Guide to Determine if Your House Blessing Bounced Off

So, ten years ago our family moved into a nice neighborhood in suburban Virginia. It had some bedrooms, some bathrooms, a basement, a two car garage and a decent yard with woods and grasslands for our six children to view as they walk past the windows on their way to the messy basement to play the X-box. It is a small piece of the American dream paid for with the blood and sweat and tears of a middle management government career and the lucrative pay of a Catholic school teacher with a humanities degree. We signed a 30 year fixed rate mortgage and a home owners association contract. We joined the neighborhood watch and we had our house blessed. Its what Catholics do. Well, maybe not the neighborhood watch, unless you feel guilty about all the HOA letters your family gets. But the house blessing. . .that's what we do. We do it because we remember the joyful event of moving into a house, to thank God from whom all blessings come, we pray for protection, we pray for sanctification and we expel demons. If we are in the south, in a planned subdivision with well kept lawns and six children, we also freak out the Southern Baptist, but that is never our intention. But recently, after a few encounters with the local fauna and a particularly bad infestation of mice and then (because of the mice) a soiree of snakes, I had an epiphany. I thought that maybe, just maybe. ..what if my house blessing "didn't take." I wrote to the priest who did the house blessing;
"Dear Father,Ten years ago, you blessed our house. In that time our home has been blessed with one bear, a family of skunks, countless deer, a cache of snakes, raccoons and enough mice to fund labs all over the world to cure Ebola. This year, the mice have been a thing. Today I called a dishwasher repairman who pulled a dead mouse from the grinder inside the motor. After much prayer, I have come to the unfortunate conclusion, that my encounters with little woodland creatures are squarely because I did not obtain the house blessing of a Franciscan. Thought you should know. In Christ,Regina Hiney"
Well, this beloved priest wrote me back explaining that with house blessings there are no warrantees and no guarantees. And that sometimes the blessings bounce off the family's home. I had no idea. I searched many tomes and ancient books of Catholic lore for this information. No where could I glean this precious pearl of invaluable knowledge. How does one know if one's house blessing has "taken?" I have decided to write a guide. The Handy Dandy Hiney Guide to Determine if Your House Blessing Bounced Off Your Family's Home" 1. If, upon one week of the house blessing, your stark naked four year old son flicked his superman underoos from the second floor landing in the foyer and they accidentally got caught on the chandelier in front of second story picture window and you did not own a 12 foot step ladder to remove the superman underroos from the chandelier so you had to go nearly 6 months with superman underroos with track marks dangling from your two story chandelier. . .further, if any guests that entered your foyer entered your home with the possibility that at any moment, the underroos could fall on their head like the sword of Damocles. . .your house blessing might have bounced off. Also. . .if you also couldn't turn on the lights to your chandelier for six months for fear of 1. Causing a smelly, smoky fire by burning dirty underroos and 2. Letting your neighborhood see your illuminated crap, your house blessing may have bounced off. 2. If, you have ever let your two year old and four year old play in your sandbox with two friends whilst you ran inside to change the clothes from the washer to the dryer and somehow in that brief period of unsupervised time, a pick up truck was able to drive into your backyard where the children were playing and (this complete stranger) was able to enter your sanctuary loudly beeping his horn and SCREAMING at you to get the kids inside and position his truck between the four children and a black bear. This Good Samaritan prevented the children from being consumed. . .and yes that IS a blessing. . .but IF you, the mother almost had to have a defibrillator treatment thinking about how the bear almost consumed all that succulent meat inside all the various underroos because she wasn't sure the children were wearing clean underwear (this is why you always wear clean underroons, kids) . . . your house blessing might have bounced off. 3. If one day, you noticed a large hole under your front stoop. . .if one day you decide to investigate the large hole under your front stoop. . .if one day you decide to investigate the large hole under your front stoop and discover it contains a skunk. If one day you decide to investigate the large hole under your front stoop and it contains another skunk. . . if one day you decide to investigate the large hole under your front stoop and discover it contains a whole skunk family; if one day you decide to investigate the large hole under your front stoop and discover "Ah crap. . .of all the skunk holes in all of Virginia, I had to get a Hi Falootin Fruitful Skunk Family." You know this because you see they are eating from an old open can of Fancy Feast Cat Food from a neighbor's trash. . .your house blessing might have bounced off. . .or been diverted to the skunk duplex that you had no idea you bought. 4. If one day, after you had animal control help you round up the Hi Falootin Fruitful Skunk family. . .after many traps and even more tomato juice. . .the odor of their sanctity still lingers. . .and a family of raccoons took up residence in the duplex that you had no idea you bought. your house blessing might have bounced off. 5. If upon potty training another child who did not like the feel of the "no frills two ply, no plush, thus will flush" brand toilet paper, decided he would wipe his delicate bottom down every carpeted stair as the soft plush of the white carpet (former model home, I didn't choose this color carpet, I have a humanities degree, but I am not stupid) was softer and because the delicate snowflake didn't like to wipe with his hands and maybe have to touch poop on account of the "no frills two ply, no plush, thus will flush" brand tends to disintegrate upon contact with skin, delicate snowflakes not withstanding . . .your house blessing might have bounced off. . .or maybe it just got soiled. 6. If you are a Catholic apologetics geek and you have ever answered your front door only to discover a couple of Jehovah Witnesses there wanting to discuss the importance of being a good steward of the environment and all of a sudden two Mormons ride up on Bicycles and want to discuss the restoration of the priesthood and you can't because YOU HAVE A KIRBY SALESMAN CLEANING YOUR CARPETS. . . your house blessing might have bounced off. 7. If you have ever been woken up to a blood curdling scream in the middle of the night, you immediately run to find the child and step on a lego but stifle the pain so as to offer succor and comfort to your child. . .further, if you find the child by the toilet in tears, crying about a blood clot and pointing to his or her stool. . .only to discover that they too have had an encounter with a lego. . .and you know this because you have physically mushed the stool with your "no frills two ply, no plush, thus will flush" toilet paper and it disintegrates easily and poo gets on your hand and you find yourself sorely tempted to wipe your hand on your white carpet. . .your house blessing might have bounced off. 8. If you know the difference between the Eastern garter snake and a Black snake because of all the mice they like to eat that live in your home. . .your house blessing might have bounced off. 9. If every piece of edible flora that you have planted by breaking every child labor law in the state of Virginia has been eaten by the fauna. . .your house blessing might have bounced off. 10. If you have ever received more than one Home Owners Association letters regarding bicycles, lemonade stands, garbage bins, naked children fleeing Saturday night bath night, fully clothed mothers fleeing homework meltdowns. . .your house blessing might have bounced off.

--Regina Hiney, Roaming Correspondent

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Studies That Make You Want To Go Don Ashes, A Hairshirt, A Scapular, And Sing Hymns In The Elevator

Religion To Disappear By 2041, Says New Study

(If you want to encounter your daily quotient of self-serving, agenda-driven, information-twisting, delusional pipe dream pseudo-science covered by a breathless and deadline-panicked journalist, go ahead and click.  I'll wait.  The rant is patient.)

OK, I will begin by granting the scientist something: secularism is on the rise in the Western World.  No jokes there.  And its easy to prove.

But really?  Religion will die  By 2041?

Because that is exactly how he is posing it.  Religion, the inexplicably human reality that has infected the world for millenia, is on the verge of being stamped out!  The suffering it has caused, soon to be no more!  And the vaccine?  Wealth!

(Scratch.  Scratch.  Something is itching does this sound familiar...OOH!  I know!
Matthew 19:23-24
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

Oh well.  I've got hydrocortizone for that.

Seriously, his interpretation of that data is that as people get wealthier, women work outside the home, and education rises, people will become inoculated against the religion flu.  It's basically a global health thing.  Sorry, religion virus.  Nothing personal.  It's just that you're against the human race and eventually the poor, breeding, undereducated masses will wake up and choose health over your feverish malaise.

Wait, something is itching again...really need to get more hydro at Walgreens...what is that, that...?

Right!  Religion is the opiate of the people!  Karl Marx!  See, it isn't a drug, but its like a bug.  (And Marx may have had more followers, or fun, if he rhymed like that.)  But man, Marx?  Because his philosophy has proven to be such a successful template for political reform and governance?  And besides, this is Marx with a comfy couch.  The goal is not freedom and equality (fine goals in general) but WEALTH.  It' me a headache.  Agenda-driven philosophy will do that.  (Religion doesn't.)

So: we have a study showing a rise in secularism which leads Son of Marx to say religion will surely and finally die in 2041, and we'll try to have a funeral except all the Churches will be closed, boohoo.  

But wait, there's a problem (according to the article)!  Those religion people--they BREED!  More than atheists do!  This may yet undo all and keep the virus alive!

(You know the article doesn't quite go there, but did you ever think this could get ugly?  Like eugenics style ugly?  "Religion-infected people" get forced to pay extra to have more than two children, and worse?  'Cause you know, that's never happened before.  Look, it's no more a sci-fi development than saying Religion will be stamped out by 2041.)

Well.  There are clearly only two ways to react.  The first is to run straight for your nearest house of worship and kiss the ground and bring a few friends to boot.  Wear your Christian T-shirt gear, a hairshirt, Lutheran socks, scapulars, miraculous medals, wrist rosaries, and what the heck, ladies, the chapel veils can be worn in public.  Sing hymns in the elevator.  Wear ashes.  Say it loud and say it proud: I am a religious person.  It is health, not sickness, to believe in God.  And it ain't dying in 2041 without going through me first.

The second way is to pray for this man, for all those who think as he does.  Because they are missing out on the Great Adventure.

Luckily we have many thousands, maybe millions, doing both right now.

World Youth Day 2013.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Church 45 year old White Brunette Married Catholic Women With Kids And A Job Want

OK, I'll let some blondes in too.
As Annie Selak opines, we're getting a new Pope soon, barring an apocalypse.  So she wrote a blog piece in WaPo asserting that she is a young woman, and she works with young people, so she should know: what is the Catholic Church young people want?  By that standard, I have a blog, I'm middle aged, and I work with middle aged people, and we want a Catholic Church too!  All these young people, they get their youth ministers, their service trips, their skits.  The 45 year old White Brunette Married Catholic Women With Kids And A Job have been quiet too long.  We are Church, Hear Us Roar...all the way to the conclave.

The Catholic Church That We Want is:

  1. Going to provide free childcare.  Really, you want me to attend a Bible Study or committee meeting or adult enrichment session?  Pony up for some college students to watch my kids for an hour.  Also, buy a handful of toys for the nursery that aren't broken.  In fact, just have a mom and dad's night out evening and let us drop off our kids.  Thanks.
  2. Occasionally Going To Send Me A Pizza.  Everyone knows that when you are crammed between work and hungry kids, pizza is the second bread of life.  Just stop being so darn pastoral and give me a pizza when I look down.  Or a tuna casserole or taco hotdish.  As with all Church food, it's the thought that counts, so I'm not picky.
  3. Not Going To Make My Kids Do Many Crafts Every Faith Formation Session.  I'm running out of room for these "craft trophies."
  4. Going To Enable Me To Lose 10 lbs And Whiten My Teeth While Earning $100 A Day While Surfing The Web.  Because according to Facebook, this is apparently what I really, really, really need.
  5. Going To Have A Scrapbooking Nook In The Foyer.  Look, all the cool retreat houses are getting on board with this. 
  6. Going To Play Liturgical Music That Sounds Indistinguishable From Sarah McLaughlin.
  7. Holding Adult Enrichment Sessions On The Theology Of Downton Abbey.
  8. Never Going To Make Us Participate In A Skit Again. Zumba, now you're talkin'.
  9. Going To Have A Parish Nurse Discuss Menopause Privately With Us.
  10. Never Going To Ordain Women.  Please, I'm already taking care of the rest of the world.  I'm freakin' busy and don't have time to take care of you too.

Or, perhaps, what we want is a Church for human beings, more like what Bad Catholic suggests here.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Op-Ed: An Ode to Ordinary Time

Wow, I don't know about you all, but I was just so grateful to see the gold and white decor come down at Church.  Creche packed away, needled trees in the chipper, poinsettias dead and composted, Christmas music in the dusty back files.  I just feel so...relaxed, entering fully into ordinary time.

I mean, that green.  So soothing, so reverent to growth and life (which is really nice when it is about 10 degrees and icy outside).  Those psalm responses are so ritually reinforcing, so blessedly known, so focused on the everyday life with God.  Then: just the necessary candles, no extra bells and whistles.  And we've been reading the Letter to the Hebrews at daily masses.  How theologically awesome is that?  I mean, those brief birth narratives are short and get kind of milked for six weeks.  Hebrews is the seven course meal of New Testament letters.  I can listen to it all day and chew it like cud.  And its nice that the church bulletin is a pamphlet right now--not a small novel like those we got in advent.

I'm just so grateful we're here for a while, you know?  Resting with the Son.  Held in the Spirit.  It's just so nice to focus on the readings and not the 80 events occurring in the parish this week.  It's like a beautiful, peaceful oasis that lets me just "be".  I'm so glad to be here in this liturgical place where I am Mary of Bethany, able to focus, sit in tranquility, absorb like a sponge....







$%^*^(&*%^. I'm off to Target to buy some fish sticks.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Op-Ed: I'm Too Old for the New Evangelization and the New Atheism. What to do?

Good morning, people.  I am The Ironic Catholic and I'm 45 years old.

(R: Hi, Ironic Catholic!)

While I am not teetering on the brink of death, I am not young.  My then 8 year old reminded me of this recently and bluntly when she announced I was getting old, and I responded, nonplussed, "How can I be old when I still feel young?"  Her response?  ""Oh, Mom.  That's just your feelings teasing you."

I am 10 years away from AARP mailings and many years past being carded when I buy beer.  I am of the age that when I was pregnant three years ago, people did double takes.  I am of the age that all the music I grew up with has been dusted off and put on as my shopping soundtrack in every store I enter, since store owners think my demographic has money ( ha. ha. ha.).  Clearly we didn't have taste in music, but what can I say?  That was 30 YEARS AGO. Stop blaming me for Belinda Carlisle.  We were young.

The problem is that a few million emails, statuses, blog posts, and students remind me on a daily basis that we are in something new here. The New Evangelization!  to counter the New Atheism!  with the New Media!  And, according to the vibe I get, its time for me to listen up because I am clearly too slow and tech-ignorant to get it.  Which makes me feel curmudgeonly, but I'm still a little young that role.  Sigh.

So, I am in a quandary.  I'm the very definition of middle-aged.  So, gee, I can't be a New Atheist?  I guess that one is alright, since I'm not interested and if I were, would prefer the undeniable intelligence of some of the old atheists.  New Media?  Well, I'm doing a blog, but I think that is retro-media at this point.  Don't want to do Pinterest.  Don't want to do Tumbler.   Heck, Google Plus rejected ME, so I think the ambivalence is mutual.  I honestly just walked into a class and a student discreetly helped me turn on the computer (it was an Apple, people!  I do PCs!).  It's safe to say I don't have "New Media" written on my forehead.

But what about the New Evangelization?  Ooh, that's hot, because: 1. people are dropping religion in the USA like flies, 2. someone reread the Great Commission and remembered it was there, 3. it has the word new in it.  And I want to like it because I love God and want others to, as well.  But I suspect the New Evangelization is, for many people, just "Oh right! Let's do evangelization. That would be new!"  Or to put it more shortly: The "Do Evangelization".

Well, thank goodness, I found some people to agree with me.  C.S. Lewis (above) was not fond of "Christianity ands" (as in Christianity and ... the latest new topic.  Politics!  Fashion!  Grilled Pizza!).  And G.K. Chesterton warned against every new thing being embraced at the expense of old.  In fact, what is oldest is what is truly new.  So, in celebration of the Do Evangelization, I have a new (sorry) motto: Do the Old, it will be New! Wooo!  (Aside from bad rhymes, my self-esteem is now firmly retrieved from my impending midlife crisis.)  Inspired, I took my 45 year old self and did some old/new things this past week:
  • I talked in person to a couple of students about theology yesterday (face to face in my office).  It was positively Socratic, people.  And Socrates is old.  Really old.
  • I loved my family by getting everyone up and fed and dressed and to school.  No tweeting involved.
  • We went to the local house of hospitality for the homeless and talked with people, broke bread, laughed.  We craved face to face interaction over cell phones.
  • I listened to some people frustrated with local church stuff and encouraged "hanging in," perspective.  In person.  Complete with body language.
The "Do Evangelization" may have great reach with technology and all, but it is about human beings, not information.  People are converted by witness, not primers.  Nothing new about that...although when you encounter it, it feels new, because it is REAL.  And one of the greatest witnesses was a certain woman living in radically chaotic times, St. Teresa of Avila, who wrote:

May nothing disturb you.
May nothing astonish you.
Everything passes.
God never changes.
Patience attains anything.
He who has God within,
does not lack anything.
God is enough.

Eternal presence.  Huh.  Doesn't get older--or newer--than that.

Next time: Op-Ed: I'm Not Postmodern or Post-structuralist or Post-Enlightenment, but I like Post Raisin Bran.  Is that a crime?

Picture courtesy Brandon Vogt, who tirelessly does really great work for the New/Do Evangelization.  (Which I like more than I let on.)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

OpEd: Dear Women Rioting in Italy, Berlusconi's Treatment of Women Not Church's Fault

Ah, dear sisters who got interviewed by NPR, please put down your placards for a moment and have a cup of tea with me. Or a nice glass of Chianti. We need to talk, woman to woman.

You spoke to me this morning as I was getting my kids ready for school, listening to a news story on your prime minister's latest attempt to make Hugh Hefner look like a saint. Rioting in the streets to protest Berlusconi's outrageous behavior seems like an entirely appropriate reaction to me. No qualms there. The reporter then said there was a lot of consideration as to why the vibrant feminist movement in place in the 1970s had suddenly spiraled into underage women being used by powerful men for pleasure and power. Your answer?: The macho culture and the Catholic Church.

Okey dokey. I'm sure the machismo doesn't help matters a bit. But the Catholic Church is responsible for a situation where Berlusconi is sleeping with 17 year old girls?

Let me point a few distressing facts:
  • The Catholic Church considers sex before marriage sinful. Always has. Always will.
  • The Catholic Church holds that women should be respected in the dignity of their personhood. That is in the home, in the workplace, on the beach, on TV, at a party, actually, anywhere. There's a document named Mulierius Dignatatem. Feel free to read it sometime. Or heck, read the gospels.
  • Since maybe 50% of the named saints come from Italy, you can look to them for some examples--especially the modern ones. Apparently you walk down any street and encounter a shrine, right? These women were, to a person, happy, and liberated from the culture's false sense of need to be any man's cupcake. You think they're oppressed?
  • Candidly, Catholicism has fallen so out of favor within Italian culture I wonder where you think the Catholic Church would have that kind of widespread societal influence.

More Chianti?

See, sisters, here's the sticky part. Although Berlusconi is responsible for his own sins, and these women are at least at some level victims, I'm afraid there is a certain amount of reaping the whirlwind here. When you advocate being "liberated" from marriage, you're freeing yourself into being used. Sister, what were you thinking when you came up with this quote?

"As far as I'm concerned, everyone can have all the orgies they like. However, orgies can in no way be the key factor in the selection process of political leaders."

It's not exactly an enthralling statement of conscience, is it? No, it goes against basic logic, women: have orgy => get used => be seen as usable object => get treated like usable object. If you don't make a stand for dignity in the first place, you can't easily reclaim it later. Women, YOU helped foster this culture that is destroying our daughters. (Yes, not just you. Men too. I'm having a talk with them later, thank you very much. I'm planning to use the Chianti bottle on them after we finish drinking it.)

The good news is, of course, there is some conscience at work here. We agree Berlusconi must be held accountable for his crimes (and they are crimes). But I beg you to stop drinking the "open sex is free" Kool Aid. Berlusconi is apparently "surprised" that a million women are in the streets, protesting his behavior. Is it worth asking the question--why?


Monday, November 29, 2010

Op-Ed: Listening to Christmas Music in November is like premarital sex

(An occasional series of opinion pieces.)

God bless you merry gentlemen, my aunt Fanny.

Welcome to the most wonderful time of the year (stop singing that!). Yes, it's ...advent. A blessed, quiet time of waiting, repentance, and hope. So once again, I'm walking into the grocery store all ahush with pure anticipation, and bombarded by Christmas muzak. It makes me feel like a sleazy liturgical strumpet, when all I wanted to do was buy some wholesome organic milk and bread, dang it.

Why am I so in the bleak midwinter about this (stop singing that!!!)? See, some of us like advent. The hush and quiet of it. O Come Emmanuel, Maranatha, etc. But more to the point, some of us like Christmas! On Christmas Day! And for the next 12 days! Celebrating with abandon the Incarnation! Hark the Herald...(STOP IT!).

Christmas is just wrong without the anticipation. It's cheap grace. Christmas music in November is intrinsically disordered.

To that end, I encourage everyone to go tell it on the mountain (STOP! STOP! STOP singing that!) that intentional listening to Christmas music in November is the liturgical equivalent of premarital sex. Tempting stuff but bad news.

It's a slippery slope, dashing through this snow (AUGHHHHH! STTTTTOPPPPPP ITTTT!). But if we don't nip this temptation in the bud, the next thing you know, your parish plays "Jingle Rock Rock" at midnight mass. Drastic times call for drastic measures. Listening to Christmas music before Christmas Day is like engaging in premarital sex. You will regret it.

Peace and blessings. And I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Irony Wins!

34-3, apparently.

As I said at Happy Catholic, I don't even have the heart to trash talk much after such a trouncing.

Ecclesiastes comes to mind, though: There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven; a time for winning, a time for getting whipped....

We'll see what "time" it is when the Vikings take on the so-called Saints, or in Catholic blogland, IC vs. NOLA's Alive and Young! You're next, Paul!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Who Wins...Ironic or Happy?

(An insider Catholic blogosphere piece.)

To be Happy, or to be Ironic? Find out Sunday when the Vikings trounce the Dallas Cowboys! Sure, I know Julie and other Catholic bloggers from that accumulation of hot asphalt and tex-mex foods are good folks. But let's be honest...we need the win more. It's the middle of Minnesota winter. A win would help in the war against despair we wage this time of year.

Apparently there was a happiness survey done which concluded that Minnesota was the 26th happiest state in the nation, right behind North Dakota, by which a Star Trib columnist memorably (and ironically) noted that North Dakotans get happy when they see a tree. So be it. We're holy and ironic and better at football. See you on the other side of the field, Dallas Bloggers!

(I'm warming up the theological trash talk tips, Minnesota bloggers! Are you with me?)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Modest Proposal, The Sequel: Saving Notre Dame From Itself

(Backgrounder: here.)

Dear Notre Dame leadership and friends of Catholic education:

In a move of spectacular tone-deafness, the most famous Catholic university in the United States managed to place itself into deep cow pie this past week by inviting President "I just raspberried the cardinal center of Catholic ethics by re-opening Embryonic Stem Cell Research and I'm just getting started" Obama to speak at the Notre Dame commencement ceremony this Spring. And to some people's horror, he accepted.

But have no fear, gentle readership! I have a solution!

I, The Ironic Catholic, graciously offer my talents to Notre Dame to be their new, improved commencement speaker.

Here is how it goes, ND powers and friends: the kerfluffle your friendly Catholic bloggers create convinces President Obama to turn down the invitation, citing a forgotten dental appointment. In a move to appease the economically minded, I offer my services for the cut rate of $750 plus mileage. I have no idea what President Obama is getting, but I'm sure it's at least 10 times more than that. I am your fiscally responsible choice, friends.
Other advantages to an Ironic Catholic ND address:
  • All those grads aren't getting jobs anyway. Holding up a blogger as a viable career choice may sweeten the day a bit.
  • Since I'll be five months pregnant with my fourth child in May, I will be the counter-icon to Obama's policies. Granted, it will be hard to tell in that academic regalia. But still, how sacramentally sweet is that?
  • I don't require secret service protection. Although a campus tour would be nice. I hear there's a football stadium worth seeing.
  • I'll be as brief as a homily. Students will love that.
  • I'll be funny. Or at least, as funny as this blog. Hmmm. Maybe we should say I'll just be.
  • I'm willing to try to give the address in pig-Latin.
  • ...Or do the entire address in limerick.
  • I promise to include the line: "Granted, you will always have an inferiority complex, not having gone to a Lasallian university. But you will persevere and bear this cross."
  • I'll close with the Angelus.
I trust you will see the wisdom in this solution and I look forward to your invitation. I'll start my rough draft immediately.

Your humble servant,


(If I just ruled the world, everything would be so much simpler, people. But my modest proposal for world domination will have to be the three-quel.)

UPDATE #2: The Minor Premise has a touching tribute to my ND offer, in limerick.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Oh No! Scruffy Priests Are Running Amuk!

From an article, "The Pope Urges Priests To Wear Smarter Outfits" in the Times Online (UK):

Another outfitters for clergy, Mastranzo, said ''Around 30 per cent of priests dress in a scruffy manner and don't even pay attention to the colour of their clothes.'

Alas.  Alack.  Commence wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Scruffy, I tell you.  My dog Fido is scruffy.  I never met a scruffy priest.  Yet I'm not sure I want our priests dressing for fashion, either.

Of course, this commentary comes from an woman university academic--the only job in the world where dressing dowdy could be a smart professional move.

(Saw the article via Jeff Miller on Facebook)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Op-Ed: Sen. Obama, the Theologian's "Pay Grade" Isn't Hard to Make, Actually

To: Senator Obama
From: The Ironic Catholic

Rick Warren: "When does a baby in the womb receive full human rights?... "
Obama: "... whether you're looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity ... is above my pay grade."

First, Senator Obama, I am a theologian. And the first clue you didn't know what you were talking about on this particular question was the assumption that scientists and theologians are even on the same pay-grade chart. Seriously, I don't begrudge scientists getting paid fairly for difficult research through a few zillion dollars in soft grants. But when a theologian actually gets a grant from a funding agency to do research, we're so shocked we begin to do the happy dance to Schubert's Ave Maria, and hang the consequences. It's that unusual for theologians to make money. Indeed, some of our parents begged us to major in the big bucks disciplines, like studio art or anthropology or Russian lit. But I digress.

Since my theologian's pay grade (after you include the three months I'm not on contract but research anyway, the virtually unpaid work I do for dioceses and churches on the side, and lets not forget the thankless but utterly vital work of humor blogging) = diddly/squat, I think we can take that as a monetary baseline for having theological guts. You most certainly do make the pay grade to make a decision on when a conceived child gains human rights. That pay grade is the divine gift of your conscience and free will. Everyone makes that decision--how and when we value human life--through their actions, whether they make 10 cents an hour or a few million a year (ahem).

But let me give you some credit. I think what you meant is that question is a highly sophisticated one and you're a pragmatist (although since pragmatism is as typically American as apple pie, I don't see how that is "change you can believe in"). Well, fine. I tend to agree these right to life questions can become very complex quickly. But there is something about all this that is, at root, simple: when you call us to have compassion on the poor, to create economic policies that support families, to offer a just wage... even when you call for us to end a war quickly for the sake of all lives involved... that speaks to a regard for human life. And that human life began at conception: all the DNA zipped into place immediately and it keeps growing until it dies a natural death, or it is stopped by an outside force. And even if you find that beginning point of human life hard to accept (and honestly, I don't think most people do), wouldn't it just be prudent to accept this point and refrain from policies that end these lives? Your own state, Illinois, declared a moratorium on executions the question was debated whether their human rights were being violated. How did everyone else merit the preferential option for the poor and vulnerable? (By the way, that's a good theological teaching. Look it up on Google. That's free knowledge, you know. Helpful for the whole formation of conscience thing.)

I have words for your opponent as well on other policies, but that's another day. In any case, you have an opportunity here to promote policies that defend all human life. And let me tell you, searching your conscience and acting in truth doesn't cost you a dime. I'll bet my pay grade on that.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Op-Ed: My Saint Can Beat Up Your Saint (if he weren't so humble)

Photo source.

John Baptiste de la Salle could beat up Ignatius of Loyola, if heaven weren't a sea of profound peace and happiness in Christ. I know he could.

See, my man John Baptiste de la Salle--saint, patron of educators, and Founder of the Brothers of the Christian Schools--had his Feast celebrated this Monday. And yet the sound of crickets echoing throughout the Catholic blogosphere indicate that...

a. There are no Lasallian bloggers, as they are no doubt too busy helping the poor and marginalized achieve their educational goals.
b. People are afroth with the Pope's impending visit to the USA.
c. People are still blissed-out by Easter Vigil.
d. Those Jesuits clearly rule the blogosphere with the iron fist of death.

Hmmm. Regardless, the lack of attention is spiritually good for us Lasallian educators. But I have to go with answer D. I like the Jesuits. All I'm asking for in this op-ed is a little respect for John Baptiste and his continuing work. We may not have basketball teams, the Spiritual Exercises, huge mega-universities, or whopping magazines like America. But we've got apostolic zeal, baby. We're the prophets against a culture of death, because we are called as teachers to be signs of the God of life to those who are told--in direct and indirect ways--that their lives are less than relative squat. This world needs all this counter-cultural life-honoring zeal that we can get.

So: if you can read this, thank your teachers. If your teachers taught in classrooms that were graded, took all comers, spoke your native language, and treated you as a human being with dignity and a future, thank St. John Baptiste de la Salle. The statue pictured at right shows St. John Baptiste bending down to offer a reading to you. When you walk up and read the book, you will see it inscribed with Lasallian prayer: "Let us remember we are in the Holy Presence of God." Whether the teacher is in ancient Galilee, a makeshift classroom in Enlightenment-era France, or (gulp) in Minnesota: we teach and learn in God's presence.

St. John Baptiste de la Salle, pray for us. Live Jesus in our hearts, forever!

(Nice tribute and picture by Lawrence, OP on Flickr here.)

p.s. and Lasallian bloggers, come out! Adoro, that means you!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Ironic Catholic Pulls Out "The Woman Card"

Alas, it could not last. The "negative ads" for Catholic Blog Awards 2008 Funniest Blog have begun.* Paul from Alive and Young has been doing a saturation campaign, playing into the politics of fear: insinuating that a vote for me is a vote for one who would "destroy the world, pillage America, beat homeless people with bats, won't recycle, run around naked singing the theme song from Scooby Doo, and eat your babies." And Jeff from the Curt Jester came out swinging against half the blogosphere, saying my blog gives him the existential willies.

I, in the meantime, have been mute. Granted, I've been consumptive this week, but my fingers still work, and have not touched the blogger board. But the truth is painful, and it is time to share why I have curbed my free speech rights.

See, humility comes naturally to women. Our inner beauty and dignity resists being dragged through the mud of vice and innuendo. We foster the gentle light fired by our Lord in our souls through blogs of humble virtue. Whereas men, tempted sadly to pride and bombast, take that light, pour the gasoline of sin on it, and it becomes a hellfire that firebombs everyone within 100 hyperlinks.

Your choice in voting, friends, is a simple one: encouraging firebombs from hell or rewarding gentle light that makes you smile.

As Helen Reddy should have said--and Sarai did say-- "I am woman; hear me laugh."

Vote as your conscience dictates, that is, for woman and for virtue: The Ironic Catholic. To do otherwise would be like voting against Mary the Mother of God. Thank you.


*Those of you not in the know--these are jokes. See, it's a humor blog. Carry on.

("I am; hear me roar.")

Monday, February 04, 2008

Op-Ed: Monday Suffers Self-Esteem Issues

It has come to our attention that Monday, Feb 4th--sandwiched in between the Super Bowl and Super Tuesday elections and caucuses--has been dealing with diminished self-esteem issues.

"I'm just not at all super," said Monday, calling in to The Ironic Catholic offices at Saturday dusk. "The only thing I'm good for is hangover recovery and last minute campaign commercials. It's not like people like me much anyway. Woohoo, I get to go to work today. Big whoop. And if you're going to be down, at least this Wednesday you Catholics get to wear cool ashes and do the goth look at the same time. But Mondays--people just count the minutes until I end."

May we suggest that everyone take the sorrow of Monday seriously, and embrace Monday in all its goodness, just as St. Francis kissed the leper. Monday has its own dignity and Monday is worth it. The Christian life is about living for today, and today is (unfortunately) Monday. But Monday can be the day the Lord returns. Monday can be the day you are called to deeper discipleship. Remarkably, Monday is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, say it with me: Happy Super Monday!

Monday sincerely thanks you.

Another super observation: is open on Mondays.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Theological Rant 2.0: No Mediocrity for the Dying

By way of explanation: I normally encourage people to laugh at themselves (and include myself in that number). Honestly, many of the details of what gets people hot and bothered about the Christian Faith and Catholic Church don't bug me so much. Pope Benedict wants more Gregorian chant? Fine, I like that. I also like some of the Gather hymnal. I'm not too fussed about vernacular vs. Latin. But what gets me riled up is mediocrity. So let's call this an occasional series against mediocrity. First theological rant here.

I posted most of this months ago at Korrektiv, in response to a "surprised by good contemporary liturgy" post by the inestimable "Rufus McCain":

I know what you mean. I don't have as big a beef with contemporary liturgy per se; I was actively involved in it for years and think it is done quite well at my current parish. Perhaps the bigger issue is that, in most parishes, there is the pervading sense that “we just don't care.” Apathy. Ennui. Forgetting that we're participating in a divine liturgy that saved the cosmos; treating it like tea time with a groovy musical backdrop.

I have been thinking about death, in particular, who will be there when I die, who will help me, if anyone. (So help me, I read Kierkegaard my entire undergraduate life.) My husband has recently been a catechist at our church, teaching a mini-course called “What Happens When We Die?” to teens and adults. The course mostly reflected on doctrines and interpretations of heaven, hell, and purgatory, but he did ask a local Christian hospital chaplain in to speak. Apparently she spoke of needing to know your values and spirituality, and if you knew those things, that bode well for a good death. Right. Here I am, stepping into the abyss, but hey, I know my values. I'm hunky-dory now.

That reminded me of a young friend going through Clinical Pastoral Education en route to Episcopal ordination, and her revelation about hospital chaplaincy was that you just listened and repeated back what the patient said. Carl Rogers at the death-bed. Mind you, I think Rogers was a brilliant psychologist, but pure patient-directed counseling as said patient lies ill and in pain seems almost sadistic. “I'm in pain and really scared,” he says. “Really? In pain and scared, you say?” says the 22 year old CPE student. Please. If I were the patient, I'd be tempted to take that last bit of energy and throw my bedpan at said counselor. Then die, choking out the words “Get … a … spine!”

Not that I have any control over this…but when I die, I want someone to remind me about the love of Jesus Christ. I want someone to ask me about repentance and offer reconciliation. I want someone to challenge me that the best is yet to come, that this suffering joins me with Christ, and like his suffering, it is not the last word. God is here and God will be there and has already broken my path for that journey. I want to receive the anointing of the sick, and be reminded that God will raise me up. I don't want someone asking if I'm “in touch with my values.” And especially if I am weak and in pain, I hope the person helping me have a holy, joyful death will not expect me to “take the lead.”

But if that does not happen, God will be there anyway. The Holy Spirit will not leave us unattended. Those thousands of pleas to Mary to pray for us at the hour of our death will not go unheeded.

And this is a little like the lackluster liturgy issue. You expect more, want more, out of this community dedicated to Christ. And it should be more. The liturgy may not be exquisitely rendered, but it should be participated in such a way that one senses joy, or awe. We want the liturgy and all death-bed relationships (are they not similar? are we not all in this death-struggle to give birth, through the Holy Spirit, to a transformed self?) to tell us the truth in love, to hold our hands, to give us some opportunity to thank and praise God for His goodness.

Yet the Holy Spirit works through much less. Maybe especially so, to take Miss Flannery seriously.

I'm not sure what the point of this is, other than perhaps…thank you, God. Have mercy on us, God.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Theological Rant 1.0: Will You Just Let Me Be Religious Already?

Dear ________,*

Excuse me, I know you're just trying to live your life and be sensitive and thoughtful and all, but will you just let me be religious already?

See, when I join a Christian-based support group (like the one I belong to and it shall remain nameless), I expect to be challenged to live my life in a way that conforms to Christ, rather than "eh, we all have days" kind of mediocrity. I know we all have days. It's called sin, folks. I want Christ to transform that sin into holiness, not hand out self-help patter. I want beatitudes, not platitudes.

I think heroic virtue is worth striving for. Granted, this whole letter shoots my patience and humility virtues for today, but I'm tapping into the wrath of God, folks. Step into the sanctuary if you don't want to get hurt.

I love the sacraments. I love the saints. I love the priesthood. I love the religious life. I love marriage. I love all the ways God works through the world. I love saying those things out loud. I don't love being made to feel like a bit like a freak when I do that in my own Church.

And yes, I love some of those songs others hate, like "Rain Down." Yes, here I am today, singing out loud, swaying slightly. Stop staring at me, dang it. It's called praising God. Try it sometime. You may like it.

I love the Church! Of course we do things wrong! Of course it's a mess in all kinds of ways! But it was still instituted by Christ for the salvation of all people. It's not some sitcom episode to snarkfest like you get your spiritual discipline tips from Television Without Pity! Treat it like a mystery to be loved, not a problem to be solved.

To quote my new best friend, Jeremiah: Why do the ways of the wicked prosper? And why do all the faithless live at ease?

Geez, what do I have to do to be a devout Catholic in this world? I know people are at different spots on the journey, and I respect that, but will you allow me to be serious about wanting to be a saint? Please? Or is that just way too weird and threatening?

Do you think I'm going to go all St. Jerome on you?

Get used to it, dudes. My hands are on the plow.

Royally ticked off in my quest for holiness,

*to read the addressee name, get out your super sonic 3-D glasses and then translate this letter into Latin, taking the second letter of every word and finding the Talmudic numerical value, dividing by 47 and then translating that number into Russian, which will bring you to a slant rhyme of the nickname by which these persons are known. Or if that is too hard, try substituting "lukewarm dishrags" or "lovable disordered noodles".

p.s. For the record, I love my parish. If anyone from my parish is reading this, the parish is not inspiring this piece. Really. Thanks.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sic: Losing it

Sic, aka Spouse of the Ironic Catholic, is officially losing it.

We've had a busy, stressful week, so he gave me a hug. That was nice.

Then he began singing "I have hugged you with an everlasting hug, I have hugged you, and you are mine...." (For those who didn't grow up in a 1970s Catholic Church, that was sung to the contemporary church song "I Have Loved You").

I held it together until he reached for that High E verse opening: "Seek! the face of your Lord and you'll be hugged!"

Sacramental marriage: it's about losing your mind together. With the help of certain church songs.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Ironic Catholic Road Trip to Glory!

I'm not going to Rome. Or the Holy Land. ROAD trip, people; I live in Minnesota. So...where else could I be talking about?

Ah, yes, friends, I'm heading to NashVegas, what the rest of the world calls Nashville!: Music City USA.

In short, I decided to drop this high-falutin' life of being a theologian and college professor for the untold glory of being a country music star. I mean, I've played every single "Glory and Praise" song on my guitar. I own a mandolin and a mountain dulcimer. I sing on key. I figure I'm way ahead.

My secret yen to crack the country music business started my first year teaching, when I had college students writing essays for my Christian Belief Today class. A full 1/4 of them cited as a source Garth Brooks' (then popular) song "Unanswered Prayers". Let me share the depth of the melodious lyrics with you:

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn't answer doesn't mean he don't care
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.

[former girlfriend, natch] wasn't quite the angel that I remembered in my dreams
And I could tell that time had changed me
Inn her eyes too it seemed
We tried to talk about the old days
There wasn't much we could recall
I guess the Lord knows what he's doin' after all.
[what a relief to have that cleared up]

To be fair, I've heard worse theology. But I've also heard far better--hmm, where? Gee, maybe in my course lectures on Athanasius and Augustine and Gregory of Nyssa and de Lubac and Rahner? So to be trumped by Garth Brooks (picture above...and honestly, does he look like someone you want to meet in a dark alley?) was the first of many opportunities to cherish humility.

Anyway, I KNOW I can write more theologically inspired country music than that, even as I pretty much hate the genre.

I used to live in Nashland when I was in school, and the weird thing is, I actually knew the husband of Garth Brooks' manager. Yep. So A FRIEND OF A FRIEND OF MINE actually knows Garth! (Nashville is like that.) So I will be back visiting friends, and maybe friends of friends, and Garth...if you're out there reading Catholic blogs (of course you are), I hear you're a nice guy, and I'd be happy to give you a couple of Augustine of Hippo-inspired country rocker tunes for a low, low price (in your world, anyway). I'd be open to doing a duet if Trisha doesn't mind, but it isn't necessary. See, I cracked that humility nut in my first year of teaching, thanks to you.

I'll try to update, but computer access will be tricky. Back in a week.

(P.s. anyone out there in Nashville? I'll be there Wed-Fri: on the road the rest of the time....)