Showing posts with label RBCU. Show all posts
Showing posts with label RBCU. Show all posts

Monday, February 17, 2014

Jesus Says Twitter Is More Virtuous As Bloggers Close Down Shop

Twitter=virtue?  Looks like the Holy Spirit.
New York City, NY: Catholic blogger Mariann Seneca did not expect to stop blogging forever at 10am this past Sunday morning.  But due to listening to the Gospel reading at her parish, she did just that.

"It's just that when our priest intoned 'Let your yes mean yes and your no mean no; anything more is from the Evil One,' I realized: I have nothing at all to blog about now," she admitted, wiping a tear from her eye.  "I mean, I blog on Catholicism and politics with a daily dash of cultural criticism.  EVERYTHING I write is more than yes or no.  'Yes, because she's an idiot.'  'No, over my dead body.' Seriously, what does a blog post look like when you strip it down like Jesus Christ commands?  I've got a title: 'Is embryonic stem cell research wrong?' and the entire body of the post is one word: Yes.  I'm frozen here, I don't know what to add.  Can I even add a meme? I just can't blog under these conditions."  And she wept bitterly.

Fr. Fred Gallman, social media director at the diocese, noted that while the gospel gives "rich food for thought," he admitted it would be useful to go a bit beyond yes or no, to present arguments for the yes or no pastorally and logically.  "The point is not to get on a roll with your pride," he said. "And occasionally, to just shut up."  When asked if he really meant that, he closed his eyes and said, "Yes."

Other Catholics involved in social media argued that the gospel provided an opportunity for micro-blogging, aka twitter. "The pithiness of twitter was forecast by Jesus years before we caught on," argued Dr. John Savenborne, professor of communications at RBCU*.  "Indeed, one could argue that twitter encourages virtue by pruning our lack of charity.  According to the Sermon on the Mount, the Kingdom of Heaven is a twitterverse."

"Facebook," Savenborne added, "is for parables. But few can master that method.  And after the parable is given, you need to walk away.  Virtually impossible for anyone but Jesus."

Seneca said she would consider moving her forum "Kickin' Catholics" over to Twitter, but was concentrating on gratitude for her narrow moral escape.  "At least I don't have to pluck my eye out today," she sighed.


* RBCU= Really Big Catholic University

Monday, April 29, 2013

CDC: Grandmothers of College Students in Immediate Danger of Death This Week

Back in happier times.
Metropolis, USA: The Center for Disease Control has posted a warning that grandmothers of college students are at high risk of sudden, unexplained death during the final exam period at their grandchild's university.

The phenomenon was first noticed here in town at RBCU*, when English professor John Huttman noticed a pattern over the years of students asking for extensions on final papers and exams due to the sudden death of a grandmother.  "Grandfathers are in a weak spot too, but the pattern of reporting definitely indicates grandmothers are in more danger.  My colleagues and I have noted this over years of service, and clearly the only thing to do in terms of public health was to report it to the CDC.  Mid-December and late April are clearly hazardous times for grandparents in this country," he explained.

The CDC, in its research, noted it is especially alarming that the grandmothers "seem to disappear off the face of the earth--like they were never here.  Whatever the disease is, it is destructive to the point of complete obliteration.  For this reason, we have put out a notification."

The CDC suggests that grandparents request syllabi from their college-aged grandchildren and lock themselves in their homes when final exams, or any exam, approaches.  Eat healthy food and drink, and have a trusted friend call on you twice a day.  The good news: once the exam date has passed, they can venture outside their homes.  Attending graduation is understood to be safe.


*RBCU=Really Big Catholic University

Hat tip to my colleague Patrick O'Shea for the original joke.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Liturgists Worry About Conclavular Distractions During Rehearsals For Holy Week

Metropolis, USA: The liturgical commission of the Metropolis diocese, meeting for a Saturday workshop at RBCU*, was clearly looking a little frayed.

"This is usually not our best month, before Easter Sunday," laughed commission secretary Diana Tuberville nervously, "but the upcoming conclave has our directors of music in a panic.  No one is practicing the parts.  Everyone is swapping papabile articles by John Allen and Sandro Magister and setting their cell phones to ."

One liturgist, who asked not to be named, admitted "I'm going to shoot our deacon before the month is out.  He HAS to learn the Exsultet and its not easy--it got harder with the new translation too.  Instead, he admits that he intends to practice it every night and then gets sucked into what didn't happen in Rome today.  He can't ad lib this thing!  What if the conclave lasts a couple of weeks?  We're toast, I tell you."

RBCU Theology of Liturgy professor John Clintock, author of the book Liturgy in Hard Times: Praying with Love, Cracking the Whip, was the featured workshop speaker and addressed this most potent of distractions.  "First, I recommend that you create a dead zone in your Church--no cell phones, no tablets, no radios.  Or get everyone in the choir to turn their gear, turned off, and leave your cell on for emergencies and the 'habemus papam' text.  If these don't work, get out your hardest piece and make them do it without a run-through.  I don't care if you're a Gather parish--pull out some Palestrina is you have to. Hopefully that will put the fear of God into them and let the Holy Spirit take care of the conclave."

While fellow liturgists found that to be sound advice, many leaving the workshop were still bleak.  "Liturgists can't compete against the Pope.  I know I'm going to be reduced to singing Kumbaya with an autoharp Easter Morning," moaned Stacey Winston.


*RBCU=Really Big Catholic University

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

RBCU Hosts Own "Humor Summit" with a priest, prelate, and humorist

Metropolis, USA: Fresh on the heels of the public meeting of Fr. James Martin, Cardinal Dolan, and Stephen Colbert (“The Cardinal and Colbert: Humor, Joy, and the Spiritual Life”) at Fordham University, our local RBCU* held its own "humor summit."   

Dean of Student Life, Jillian Rousseau, said "Some students were intrigued by the very idea of religious people being funny, or clever, or smart. Plus a few administrators said we can't let Fordham get away with this coup.  So we began looking for Catholics to participate in the first annual RBCU "Catholic + Humor Summit 2012."

"The difficulty was finding people who were available, and well, funny," noted RBCU President Fr. Aaron Deerhouse.  "And we knew we would need a published author on humor, a prelate, and a TV personality.  So, um, we decided to keep the line up a secret, to build suspense.  And get people to come."

Dr. Therese Juneau, Theatre Department, warmed up the crowd by telling jokes that began with "A Priest, A Rabbi, and a Secularist walked into a bar...."   After that, the evening's line up were walked in, blindfolded.  With a flourish and quick manacle work, they were locked to chairs and blindfolds removed.  They looked at each other, confused.

"Hi, I'm Fr. Christian Mathis, I'm a priest in the diocese of Knoxville and write the Blessed is the Kingdom blog.  Why do I have a mike on here?"

"Oh, hi, nice to meet you, Father.  I'm Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha, Nebraska."

"I'm Susan Windley-Daoust, and I write the Ironic Catholic blog and occasional ironic e-books, but guys, I was in the middle of making dinner, and my sauce is burning.  What's up?  And where are we?"

As the audience laughed, the three headliners looked at the manacles and the bright lights, appearing confused.

"I think, according to this note pinned to my cuff, we're supposed to talk about humor, being Catholic, all that," said Fr. Christian.

"Is it written in blood?," asked Windley-Daoust, to much laughter.  "No, really.  Mine's in bright red.  It says 'be funny or else'."

"Look, the only thing especially funny about me is my name," Archbishop Lucas said.  "I get confirmands coming up to me and saying 'The Force Be With You' all the time, and I respond 'That's and with your spirit, young man.'  I didn't ask to have the same name as a sci-fi director.  So, um, you all have any jokes?"

Although the line-up looked uncomfortable and occasionally took a break to try to zestfully remove the manacles, the audience seemed to enjoy the event.

"It was zany," enthused RBCU senior Mariette Sibley.   "I loved how they all acted like they had no idea why they were here, and promised to forgive whoever was responsible for this.  That pleading look in their eyes, the way that lady was saying 'Jeff? Larry? Kat? Did you do this to me?'--that was great acting.  I just love that my school did this."

"Awesomeness," said freshman Brandon Mittford.  "I totally think I have a vocation after witnessing that event.  Or that I should watch the Colbert Report.  Maybe both!"

The headliners were whisked to the airport and could not be reached for comment.

*RBCU=Really Big Catholic University

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Chancery Gets Pushback For Ad: "Fluency in Laity required"

Megapolis, USA: Local diocesan officials are, in their own words, "flustered" by what they insist is a typo in the diocesan newspaper, asking through an ad that the new Cross Cultural Ministry Director be conversant in "laity".

"Whether this is embarrassing?" asked the Vicar General of the diocese, Fr. Michael Smith. "Objection #1, I know that we wanted to create a ministry with an outreach to the immigrants from Laos. And some wanted someone who had studied Latin. On the contrary, I guess that's where this came from. It was sloppy on our part and I answer that, we want to assure the laity of the diocese that we actually know your language. Ahem, word up. God bless."

The mea culpa statement from the diocese didn't stop the flood of outraged letters pouring into the pastoral center today. An anonymous source in the chancery shared a few with the IC blog, and some were indeed scathing. "I knew it! You people haven't watched Dancing With the Stars in your life! You don't drink Milwaukee's Beast because it's a cheap escape and you don't have friends who are divorced, sleeping around, and like Danielle Steele novels! My recommendation? Like any other language: full immersion is the key, you theological headcases. I'm enclosing a copy of People magazine." Another pleaded, "We don't want YOU to become laity. We just want you to recognize that we have different vocations and STOP EXPECTING US TO BE PRIESTS!!!" One letter writer seemed almost grateful, however: "Look, we always knew you didn't know the language. It's been awkward. At least now you're advertizing for us."

Journalism professor Aaron Berryman at RBCU* did note that the ad and public statement were a bit fishy: "First, our immigrants from Laos don't speak Laotian, the word similar to laity, but Hmong. Second, considering Latin knowledge for a cross-cultural ministry position makes very little sense unless the ministry is to ancient Romans. Third, let's be honest: it's funny because it is true. I think the printed ad was legit, and no typo at all."

Some lay people, working for the diocese, argued this was getting blown out of proportion. "I have a great relationship with the clerical members of the diocese. For example, some ask me if I expect to procreate again any time soon. It's kind of sweet, really, since they know my wife and I hope to have a big family. So, their English is a little different. It's no big deal," said Director of Youth Ministry, Scott Jordan.

When the anonymous chancery source was asked whether pastors were going to be asked to make summer immersion trips in learning Laity, in the model of the common Spanish immersion trips, he replied, "No, of course not. Ridiculous. But, those opportunities exist?"

*RBCU=Really Big Catholic University

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Fourth Plague Discovered To Be Fruit Flies

Yankachane, TX: In a commentary on the daily lectionary readings for July, Bishop Ignatius Congdon shocked the people of his diocese when he announced in the diocesan newspaper that the fourth plague in the Book of Exodus has been determined to be fruit flies.

"I realize that the biblical text says flies," wrote the bishop, "but the Hebrew does put emphasis on swarming and mixing, and your average housefly doesn't do that. These are fruit flies, mark my words."

As a collective shudder ran through the households of the Yankachane diocese, people began to extend the storyline in what the diocese admits were "unhelpful" ways.

"What??!!  We're the modern day Egyptians? I don't think I've oppressed an Israelite lately, but-- you can't ignore the signs! I mean, EVERYONE is dealing with fruit flies this week, and even when you throw out the bananas, it's no use! They're everywhere! AAAUUUGGGHHHH! GOD HELP US!" noted a commenter with the handle "Getting my first born out of town" on the newspaper's facebook page.

Another anonymous commenter wrote, "I'm smashing the fruit flies as I type. They're swarming around my keyboard. Yuck. This beats the water to blood day by a mile."

In a move that was declared "a pastoral emergency," Bishop Congdon recommended repentance, conversion of life, refrigerating all open food, and the sacrifice of red zinfandel in a glass with a little paper funnel.

RBCU* biblical scholar John Croissant offered no comment.


*RBCU=Really Big Catholic University

Friday, April 08, 2011

Temps hit 80 F, College GPA Slips One Full Letter Grade

(A re-run on the first day of hitting 60 degrees F in Minnesota.)

Megalopolis, Middle America: That slippery sound you just heard was everyone's cumulative grade point average at RBCU* sliding down one full letter grade.

"When I saw the forecast for 80 degrees and sunny all weekend--this last weekend before finals--I knew it was big trouble," said Professor Eugene Harrison of the Philosophy department. "All our senior theses were due on Monday, and the one person who turned it in? Seven pages. They were sporting nifty tans, though. It's a little known fact: the temperature outside in the last week of school has a direct bearing on student achievement."

"What do you expect?" said Ryan McCarthy, an RBCU junior. "We had a blizzard in April, and temps in the 10s and 20s for months. God WANTS us to be outside. And my laptop is on the fritz. Some days are worth taking the 'gentleman's C'. Or D."

Theology professor Regina Christopherson attempted to "teach the moment" by taking her students outside and discussing the Ignatian spiritual discipline of discernment. Student Joanna Carl reported, "We had been learning that Christians discern in the midst of trials and temptations, some of which are mutable goods that may not directly lead us to our ultimate good, our God. So she took us outside on the lawn and asked us if we had truly discerned whether kissing our academic semester goodbye was the right decision, despite the mutable good of glorious weather."

"A student then interrupted Dr. Christopherson, saying 'Professor? I think I can help discern the Holy Spirit among us.'

'You do?'

'Yeah,' he said, all blissed out. Then he pulled up a puffy dandelion head and said 'See? The Holy Spirit. Now you see it.' And he blew the seeds all over. 'Now you don't.'"

Class was cancelled until further notice (or bad weather).


*Really Big Catholic University

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Worldwide Chocolate Shortage Brings People Back To God

Mexico City, Mexico: Weather patterns that destroyed the regional cocoa crop in Central America have created a significant chocolate shortage this Spring, and locals have seen an dramatic increase in mass attendance.

Coincidence? Sr. Maria Esperanza Garcia of Santa Clara Church thinks not.

"I know this through my own experience. When I slip in my trust of God, the first thing I do is try to drown my problems in chocolate rather than God. I'm depressed, and instead of praying or offering it up, I go and buy a chocolate bar. Without the candy bars for sale, I see it as the crutch that is is. And I go pray," she offered.

A local sociologist, Isabella Rodriguez of RBCU*--Ciudad de Mexico campus, decided to test this theory through a randomized double blind survey, asking members of the population under what conditions they ate chocolate, and what they do now without chocolate in the stores. Rodriguez found that 74% of participants responded they ate chocolate more when they were depressed, lonely, or craving meaning in their lives. 60% of these respondants said they were turning to meditation and prayer practices during the shortage. The other 15% began drinking more coffee.

RBCU colleague Fr. Josemaria Blanco, SJ, argued that the Church needed to see the importance of these findings. "First, people still crave meaning and relationship. Second, we need to preach to these people to help them recognize that God is the source of meaning and relationship, the immutable good, while chocolate is a mutable good. Third, we obviously need to send missionaries to Weight Watchers meetings."

The archdiocese could not be reached for comment.


*RBCU=Really Big Catholic University

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Letter Z Complains About Q's Prominence in Scriptural Studies

Photo Source.
New York City: The letter Z is miffed, or as he prefers to say, "ziffed".

"I always thought Q and I were friends," he said. "We're the couple in crime that Scrabble players cannot stand to find. Like Jesse James and Wild Bill or something. But since we started studying scripture...." His voice trailed off as he completely broke down.

The Scrabble board, taking Scriptural Studies 101 at RBCU* as a class, is encountering the Two-Source Hypothesis for the explanation of shared material in Matthew and Luke for the first time. The hypothesis argues that Matthew and Luke each worked from a copy of Mark and another unknown source, named by distinctively uncreative scripture scholars as "Q".

"Z isn't the only one jealous," admits the letter E. "U is pretty upset because they've been joined at the hip forever, but there isn't any fame and glory and intrique for U. J and X think they have been snubbed as well, although X admits that he gets more than his share of the glory in high school algebra. Me, I'm pretty mellow. That schwa sound the phoneticists attribute to me came out of my laid-back attitude. But the board is holding a lot of tension right now, no doubt about it."

Z refused to be continue the interview, but K did pipe in: "It isn't like Q is helping his cause. Preening about, demanding to be called 'the letter of revelation'...I haven't seen him this over the moon since someone spelled "kumquats" on the triple word score."

"We've been trying to console Z that he has a prominent spot in Scripture Studies as know, the Alpha and Omega in the Book of Revelation," moaned N. "He gets to be Jesus, while I'm in the middle of nowhere. But Z says it isn't the same, he's no Greek letter, doesn't want to step on Omega's toes...awkward at the Interlanguage Letter Conferences, you know."

Q could not be found for commentary.


*RBCU=Really Big Catholic University

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sociologist Determines That Donuts Fuel Contemporary Catholic Religiosity

Megapolis, USA: In a double blind study that stands to become a landmark in the sociology of religion, American sociologist and RBCU* professor James Thurber has discovered the hidden source in contemporary practices of Catholic religiosity: donuts.

"After visiting randomly selected Catholic parishes around the United States, we noticed that the common denominator among those 'hyper-involved Catholics' in parish life was the presence of donuts," announced Thurber. "Whenever we found donuts present, we found prayer, we found faith-sharing, we found Bible studies. Therefore, we are positing that there is a cause and effect between donut ingestion and deeper walks with Christ."

When asked if the flavor of donut seemed to create a different religious effect upon the human subjects, Thurber said, "It depends. It's true that people did seem more psychologically depressed if the parish didn't pony up for something other than plain cake donuts. And inspiration and commitment seemed to move up a few notches if chocolate donuts were served. But the clearest result was that refined sugar of any sort seemed to be necessary to initiate any kind of faith-sharing in Catholic parishes. We compared this to the presence of rosaries at any given para-liturgical event in the 1950s. Just as rosaries seemed to inspire Catholics to deeper community, donuts have filled that role in 2009."

Thurber closed his conference by suggesting that a wise Catholic religious goods company should manufacture rosaries that smell like donuts to promote intergenerational community in parishes.

The ecclesiastical press received the announcement in a seeming state of shock at yesterday's press conference, but recovered quickly after Thurber handed out some Bavarian Creme donuts.


*RBCU= Really Big Catholic University

UPDATE: Part of Thurber's evidence: a new blog, Will There Be Donuts?
It made me smile.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Why the Holy Spirit As Dove?: Easier To Draw, Says Art Historians

Image right: the Holy Spirit as fire, or silly string?

Megapolis, USA
: Drs. Jeremy and Gloria Dunnings, Historians of Sacred Art at RBCU*, concur: doves are easier to draw than flames. While this could be the obvious conclusion of any 7th grade art class, there are deeper implications: The Holy Spirit has been portrayed as a dove, not because of theology, but because of "lazy art."

Gloria Dunnings explained: "There are three prominent biblical and early Church images for the Holy Spirit: wind, fire, and a dove. However, 87% of the churches in Europe raised between 350-700 AD depict the Holy Spirit, if at all, as a dove. While there was a meaning to that image as a messenger from on high, the dove image always looked flat compared to the towering depictions of God the Father and the dramatic depictions of the crucifixion and resurrection. At worst, you look at the paintings and think God the Father is set to feed the pigeons."

When wondering why the image perdured, the Dunnings launched upon an obvious but radical explanation: birds are easier to draw than fire and wind. "Of course, wind is not a truly visual image, and that is its strength. But when we did consider the depictions of fire in the other 13% of the early churches, it became clear: fire is really hard to draw well. Even if you are not going for photo-realism, the apostles receiving the Holy Spirit look like candles or like a public service announcement for 'Stop, Drop and Roll'. So we decided to cut this Gordian knot and call doves 'lazy art,' and the response in our field has been phenomenal."

The Dunnings claim many artists--who prefered not to be named--called and praised them for their candor, sharing frustrations such as "drawing fire is enough to make me want to go all iconoclastic," and "God really doesn't want me to work this hard. I'm going back to the squiggly-lined dove; it worked for Picasso." But the Dunnings also say that Wind and Fire, as the more evocative theological images, must rise to their rightful place in sacred art. "The dove has had his day, and its time to retire him for a few centuries," Jeremy Dunnings said. "No one is going to develop a close, personal, purifying, transformative relationship with a bird, for pity's sake."

Sr. Wendy was not available for comment.

*RBCU=Really Big Catholic University

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bailout Floated For Theologians

Megapolis, USA: Due to being "key players in the divine economy," the theologians who comprise CARMA (Catholic Academics of Religious Minutiae Association) have requested an immediate bailout.

"We want to humble about these things, but there is a time for honesty, and that time is now. We know are critical to the smooth operation of the universal Church, and we've been living on vapors for months. We need salvation, and for the life of us, we don't know where to turn," observed CARMA president and RBCU* theology professor, Regina Christopherson. "So we stand and say to anyone who will listen: we want a divine bailout."

The announcement came out of the current headlines, when Citigroup received a bailout package from the US government. "The rumbling began with the Citigroup deal," said John Staten, CARMA secretary. "People were saying that this is another example of theologians getting no respect, just like in the book of Job. We're struggling too. We try to explain the work of God in the world and people just scream at us, and sometimes we don't even get tenure. So...we just want our piece of Thanksgiving pie. We deserve a bailout too."

Christopherson knew that executive judgments needed to be made public after President-elect Obama said the economy needed "an immediate jolt." "My brother and sister theologians were getting afroth with apocalypticism, so we decided-- in the manner of the the psalmists--to ask God for a "jolt" as well. Or fire and ice on our enemies. Or maybe a few well-placed lightning bolts. We're not picky, actually. As long as the jolt indirectly effects us in a positive manner. In case you don't know, that's the principle of double-trouble effect, people."

A minority within CARMA squietly opposed the announcement, based on questioning the book of Job through a exegetical hermeneutic of hopeful skepticism procured from the Caribbean post-colonial traditions. Dissertations on the announcement expect to be made public in early 2009.


* RBCU=Really Big Catholic University

Monday, September 22, 2008

RBCU Theology Professor Interviewed On The Economy

An ongoing "radio interview" series with the beleaguered Professor Ramon Tulio, professor of Catholic Social Teaching at RBCU. Other interviews found here.

IC: Good morning, all. We're here in the studio with Professor Ramon Tulio, a Theology professor at RBCU, to discuss the current state of the economy. Welcome, Professor Tulio.

RT: (bleakly) Always a ... pleasure, IC.

IC: So? What's the good word about the economy these days? It's morning in America, right?

RT: (Coughs) Excuse me, are you going to eat that donut?

IC: Huh? Well, you mean you want it? Here. (munching heard in the background)

RT: Thanks. (munching pause) See, my 403B fell through the cellar this weekend, and I'm a month away from defaulting on my house, so this hits close to home. Literally. So I've given up eating breakfast.

IC: As a penance, right? Cool.

RT: No, to save money. Although there ought to be a lot of penance going around, according to Catholic Social Teaching.

IC: Great segway, Professor! Which Catholic Social Teaching theme do you want to enlighten us about today?

RT: A couple are particularly relevant: The Call to Family, Community, and Participation, and the Dignity of Work and Rights of Workers.

IC: OK, Professor, let's get to the meat: the sound bite definitions?

RT: (sigh) Let's say the Call to Family and Participation recognizes that we are social beings, and that the most intimate and formative human group is the family. We have a right to participate and influence the social realm, to work together for the common good. The Dignity of Work and Workers' Rights...well, work is a means of sanctification, but the economy is made for man, not man for the economy. Humans deserve respect on the job, through just treatment, just wages, and appropriate time off for family and worship.

IC: OK. But that wasn't a soundbite. How about this: "Capitalism totally rocks!"

RT: Yes, well, except the Church doesn't take formal positions on economic just articulates the principles I briefly described. And capitalism without much regulation--as it has been practiced in the past handful of years--has clearly hurt many families and communities, and has played havoc with workers' rights. Wall Street just had a big mammon orgy and now we're all going to pay...and many have been "paying" for years, inside the United States and out.

IC: ...uh...are you saying you're a Marxist? (heard faintly in the sound booth: "I knew it!")

RT: No, I'm a Catholic. It means I want to see an economic system that honors human dignity through just wages for families, just treatment for respect, and just distribution of wealth for the common good of all God's children. Work is supposed to be part of life's purpose for most people. But for most, work gets in the way of life's purpose. That's not God's plan.

IC: Professor, does this all boil down to "do I like my job?"

RT: Well...not quite, but that is a decent place to start.

IC: Because see, I don't think you like your job. You seem kind of exasperated every time you come here. Maybe you need to become a professional blogger. Because we're a very peaceful, fun-loving group, I think. No controversies here, ever.

RT: (long silence, deep breathing heard) Well, I apologize if I have come off as exasperated. (pause) Back to your point, maybe the question we need to ask ourselves is whether our work in some way can point us to God, and if something gets in the way that orientation, to challenge that.

IC: Works for me! (chuckles) Thanks for visiting with us, Professor Tulio!

RT: You're welcome. Hey, are you going to drink that coffee?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Study: Eliminating Trans-Fats Still Yields 100% Death Rate

Most Locals Shocked, Theologians Happy

Megapolis, USA: RBCU* released the results of a new study in the current New England Journal of Medicine: even if a person eliminates all trans-fats from his or her diet, that person is still certain to eventually die.

People on the street yesterday expressed shock at the announcement. "You think the way the FDA rode herd on McDonalds French Fries, immortality was on the line," said Clarice Johnson. Her mother, 90 year old Angela Frank, snorted at this reporter. "I've been eating those blasted baby carrots for 10 years instead of potato chips. Now this? Bah, I've been gypped," she spat out.

The only happy people in town were a group of seminarians students at RBCU's St. Philip Neri Seminary. Cheerfully eating fried chicken nuggets in the school's refrectory, third year student James Toleffer said, "I'm relieved to know that all those hours reading Kierkegaard have not gone to waste. I mean, the trans-fat revolution was going to be a real kick in the pants to existentialism. Now we know you can eat your veggies and still live in angst. It's awesome."

Fellow student Mark Noissome agreed. "As a future minister, I was really sweating how to preach to a bunch of newly immortal people. I mean, where is the relevance of the Gospel in a trans-fat free world? Sure, it was fun to ask whether Jesus' trans-fat free diet contributed to the power of his resurrection, but seriously, we need death. You just can't preach without it."

"'Death, where is your victory?' was the apostle Paul's question, and thanks to RBCU's Medical School, I am proud to say it is still our question," retorted Toleffer.

The deans of the Medical School and the seminary were not available for comment.

--I.C., inspired by sic

*RBCU=Really Big Catholic University

Monday, May 05, 2008

Catholic College Scores Slip One Letter Grade After Warm Weekend

(A re-run, but a timely one.)

Megalopolis, Middle America: That slippery sound you just heard was everyone's cumulative grade point average at RBCU* sliding down one full letter grade.

"When I saw the forecast for 80 degrees and sunny all weekend--this last weekend before finals--I knew it was big trouble," said Professor Eugene Harrison of the Philosophy department. "All our senior theses were due on Monday, and the one person who turned it in? Seven pages. They were sporting nifty tans, though. It's a little known fact: the temperature outside in the last week of school has a direct bearing on student achievement."

"What do you expect?" said Ryan McCarthy, an RBCU junior. "We had a blizzard in April, and temps in the 10s and 20s for months. God WANTS us to be outside. And my laptop is on the fritz. Some days are worth taking the 'gentleman's C'."

Theology professor Regina Christopherson attempted to "teach the moment" by taking her students outside and discussing the essential spiritual discipline of discernment. Student Joanna Carl reported, "We had been learning that Christians discern in the midst of trials and temptations, some of which are mutable goods that may not directly lead us to our ultimate good, our God. So she took us outside on the lawn and asked us if we truly discerned that kissing our academic semester goodbye was the right decision, despite the glorious weather."

"A student then interrupted Dr. Christopherson, saying 'Professor? I think I can help discern the Holy Spirit among us.'

'You do?'

'Yeah,' he said, all blissed out. Then he pulled up a puffy dandelion head and said 'See? The Holy Spirit. Now you see it.' And he blew the seeds all over. 'Now you don't.'"

Class was cancelled until further notice (or bad weather).


*Really Big Catholic University

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Breaking News: Christ Already Redeemed the World

Megapolis, USA: In breaking news, a theologian has discovered that Jesus Christ has already redeemed the world.

The president of CARMA* and RBCU professor Gerald Olzewski admitted, "It just hit me at Easter Vigil. The earth has been saved through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It's done. I don't have to keep writing this stuff, trying to get the Church in line with our cultural quirk du jour. When Jesus said on the cross, 'It is finished,' he meant it."

In a brief email to fellow theologians in CARMA, Olzewski said that he was also stepping down from his post as John McCann Distinguished Professor of Theology at RBCU. "I know I devoted most of my life as a student researching medieval Catalan in order to translate the letters between the Carmelites and a struggling Cathar titled "Pseudo-Esperanto", and most of my teaching career examining the patterns of heresies and orthodoxies in modern pre-verbal societies. But I don't know...I just have this drive to actually talk about God. To that end, I think I need to quit the academy."

Other members of CARMA reacted with shock at the announcement. "Clearly Olzewski is influenced by the post-post-modern trajectory within Western dialogues with the early medieval apophatic movement," said current acting president Lawrence Digardo. "Still, resigning one's academic position is a radical step in tracing new dialectics. This will bear watching."

When phoned for comment, Olzewski's secretary said that he was in the bathroom, shaving his head, and would return calls after an undisclosed period in the Chapel.


*CARMA = Catholic Academics of Religious Minutiae Association is its own post-post-modern trajectory.

Monday, March 03, 2008

RBCU Professor Interviewed On "Care for God's Creation"

Prof. Ramon Tulio, RBCU professor of Catholic Social Teaching and a man of marked fortitude and patience, has returned upon request to The Ironic Catholic offices for an exclusive interview on a prime teaching within the Catholic Social Teaching tradition: Care for God's Creation.

(Previous interviews with Prof. Tulio can be found on
The Preferential Option for the Poor and Solidarity as well.)

IC: Good morning, Prof. Tulio. Welcome back to The Ironic Catholic!

(He offers weak smile, nods.)

I'm curious to hear more about this "Care for God's Creation" idea.

RT: This is a good thing, because as a teaching it tends to be less emphasized.

IC: Well, I think I know why.

RT: (twitches slightly) Um, yes?

IC: I have to question whether God's creation is worth caring about. I mean, I'm in Minnesota here, we're having our 27th blizzard of the season, and frankly, I want to focus on the spiritual side of things. All this snow is good for is frostbite. And jellyfish. I defy someone to tell me why I should care for jellyfish.

RT: Creation is good because it comes from God. It's called a mutable good.

IC: Huh? I can turn down the volume? It's just cold snow, not loud snow.

RT: Mutable, not mute-able. Created. Changeable. Has a beginning and end. Not God, but created good.

IC: See, that's why I want to focus on the spiritual stuff. No end. Awesomely good. No frostbite involved.

RT: Care for God's Creation doesn't say that one shouldn't focus on the spiritual. It simply reminds us that we were called at our own creation for responsibility over creation, a stewardship. That we should love and respect what God has created. Indeed, you could call it a human vocation. If we don't heed God's call to responsibility for others and the world, we tend to fall into childish selfishness. You want spiritual?...that's spiritually horrendous.

IC: Hmmm. OK, so why do you think that care for God's creation is less emphasized than other Catholic Social Teaching doctrines?

RT: People say--and it's true--that the life and dignity of the human being roots Catholic Social Teaching. But they don't see how part of our dignity, and quality of life, comes from the call to care rightly for God's creation.

IC: But I just want to avoid frostbite.

RT: Maybe you should stop throwing snowballs at your kids with your bare hands.

IC: --and getting bit by jellyfish. I don't know what the heck God was thinking when He created those things.

RT: Ironic Catholic, have you ever thought that this actually isn't about you? And that the teaching on the call to care for God's creation helps make that point?

IC: But Jesus loves me!

RT: ...and created you to love God and neighbor.

IC: Geez, I never knew you were one of those university radicals, Professor! Always food for thought, though. I'll consider this reciprocal love thing. See you next time!

RT: (leaves muttering prayers to St. Jude)


(St. Jude, the patron saint of hopeless causes, has a passing acquaintance with

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Local Catholic To Give Up Presidential Election For Lent

Megapolis, USA: Sara Bointon, a local college student at RBCU*, is going a step further than giving up chocolate for Lent this year. She declared that she plans to give up the presidential election.

“I don’t care that this is my first one as an adult,” she said. “I’ve been very interested in what’s going on, but I think that I need to take a break. Really, with Super Tuesday and Fat Tuesday coinciding, it’s like God himself is telling us to gorge on CNN Tuesday but then take a six week break. The way these people are going at it, you’d think that the salvation of the world hung on the latest endorsement or poll or something.”

Other students argued they needed to step back from the wall to wall coverage as well. Bennett Granger, a self-described “Catholic Pro-life Green,” said “Sure the election is a serious thing, but geez, there’s no one a Catholic can fully endorse. It’s driving me crazy. Politics may be the art of the possible, but voting just seems like mission impossible. So I’m just ignoring the campaigns for the space of Lent.”

Bointon and others plan to have one last blow-out CNN party in the RBCU student union on Tuesday night. “We’ve got beads, we’ve got campaign buttons, we’ve got a king cake, and we’ve got beer. We don’t have a candidate, but maybe after six weeks of political abstinence, we’ll have some clarity of conscience. Lent is about becoming a more authentic Christian, and I think blocking CNN for a few weeks to pray and fast is a no-brainer.”

"First candidate to wear ashes on Wednesday though--I have to admit, that would get my vote,” said Bointon.


*RBCU=Really Big Catholic University

( always takes the political high ground.)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

RBCU Professor Interviewed on "Solidarity"

Prof. Ramon Tulio of the Theology department at RBCU* graciously visited The Ironic Catholic offices at her request, to enlighten the world on some of the finer points of Catholic social ethics, more commonly called Catholic Social Teaching. Today's topic: solidarity.

(Previous interview may be found here.)

IC: Good morning, Prof. Tulio, and welcome back. I am looking forward to our conversation about solidarity.

Tulio: Thank you. It's good to be here. Solidarity is a beautiful traditional teaching of our relationship with each other as brothers and sisters.

IC: Righto. OK, first thing. When do we get to kick out the heretics?

Tulio: Excuse me?

IC: You know, in the pants. Out of Holy Mother Church.

Tulio: I don't quite follow.

IC: Well, solidarity is the virtue that doctrine needs to be solid and certain, and I think there are a bunch of folks not measuring up.

Tulio: Uh. No...solidarity is the teaching that we are bound in love to each other as one human family in Christ, and that we are our brothers' and sisters' keepers.

IC: I'm a keeper?

Tulio: In a sense.

IC: Oh. (long pause) So I can still "keep" my heretic brothers out, right?

Tulio: Look, this doesn't have to do with doctrinal heresy. Let me read here: John Paul II defined solidarity in Solicitudo Rei Socialis as "a Christian virtue. It seeks to go beyond itself to total gratuity, forgiveness, and reconciliation. It leads to a new vision of the unity of humankind, a reflection of God's triune intimate life...."

IC: So we--you and me--are in solidarity with each other? (a weak nod) How does that work?

Tulio: It means that we need to recognize each other's dignity as a child of God through concrete acts of love, through prayer, charity, and work for justice, and that we are one Body in Christ.

IC: OK, but love doesn't seem very "solid" to me. I know 'cause I got dumped a couple of times.

Tulio: Eros isn't very solid, you're right. But God's love is more solid than anything on earth.

IC: Whoa, that's deep. And very orthodox! Thanks for coming by--I'm happy to be solid with you, Professor Tulio!

Tulio: Thanks, I think.
(sheds a tear, walks quickly back to ivory tower)


(Solidarity is the rule at

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

RBCU Professor Interviewed on "Preferential Option for the Poor"

Prof. Ramon Tulio of the Theology department at RBCU* graciously visited The Ironic Catholic offices at her request, to enlighten the world on some of the finer points of Catholic social ethics, more commonly called Catholic Social Teaching. Today's topic: the preferential option for the poor.

IC: Welcome, Professor Tulio. I'm personally really excited to be talking to you about this topic. I've been moved for years that the Catholic tradition calls us in this direction.

Tulio: I'm glad to be here and glad to hear that. It's a topic that causes some controversy, especially in the Western world.

IC: I can't imagine why. Perhaps we can start with a definition: what is the preferential option for the poor?

Tulio: Basically, it's a phrase used by Catholic social ethicists to say that when push comes to shove, the poor need attention first. It is a way to express Christ's love for the most vulnerable. Option refers to "choice"--we are called to choose to embrace the needs of the poor.

IC: Um. (long pause) Really? I thought that the Church was offering us a choice to be poor. You know, "what do you prefer? Poor or rich?" Then you decide.

Tulio: Well, some people do choose to take vows of poverty, but the preferential option refers to caring for those who do not choose poverty, for whom poverty is essentially a slow form of death.

IC: But see, I prefer to be rich. I thought that was the option the Church was giving me. Or, if not rich exactly, I prefer to not be poor.

Tulio: That isn't quite what it's about. The phrase refers to opting for care of the poor. John Paul II advocated the alternative phrase "preferential love for the poor". Perhaps that helps.

IC: I guess it does; I'd sure love to be rich.

Tulio: No, you're supposed to love the poor people, as Christ did.

IC: So...I can't love rich people? Like my Mom? That doesn't seem right.

Tulio: Of course you can, and should. Everyone is your neighbor and you are bound to them by the Great Commandment to love. But the poor are in greater need, and we are called to help and assist them, like a mother cares for her sickest child out of need as well as love. That's why other people prefer the word "option"; it connotes action better.

IC: Then I'm trying to prefer "option" vs. "love"?

Tulio: No, no, no! They mean the same thing: the loving and real, active care for the poor.

IC: Hmm. Well, this has been enlightening, Prof. Tulio. I'm glad to know I have options and preferences. Will you come back to our studio to discuss another Catholic Social Teaching topic: the life and dignity of the human being?

Tulio: I'd prefer (long pause) ...I mean, yes, if God wills it.

IC: Thanks! I just know God willed this interview. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tulio: (muttering) Ivory tower...must get back to ivory tower....

*Really Big Catholic University