Blog Noir.An interplay of cultural references, snark, the occasional smutty joke, Dadaism, Mamaism, and a genuine outrage at the horrors of The Situation.
--to paraphrase Freddy el Desfibradddoro
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Winning the War on All Hallow’s Eve
Friends: Yesterday I saw my first Halloween display.
They say that pride cometh before the fall, but Fall has just begun, and I am already feeling pride over my correct surmise that Mrs. William Kirby of Larkspur Avenue would be the agent of Lucifer’s earliest handiwork this year. Her yard was indeed a scene from a children's version of Dante's Inferno. It isn’t that Mrs. Kirby has any of the obvious signs of being an agent of the Devil! But the subtle ones are legion! It was at the Spring Social that I noticed the way her lipstick matches her purse. In my book, accessorizing is the origin of the phrase “the Devil is in the details.” Even more, Mrs. Kirby’s obvious charms – not to mention the mole she has just above her elegant and shapely left ankle -- call to mind Shakespeare’s warning about “beauteous evil” being “empty trunks o’erflourished by the Devil.” And now that effigies of witches and mock tombstones flourish in her front yard, who would try to gainsay the Bard?
Sadly, I’m not even sure you will take my word for this. I feel betrayed by those of you who have called my sermons bellicose, intolerant, or buffoonish! And I know many of you secretly wish I would stop my campaign against Halloween, because you are tired of spending every October lying on sidewalks to disrupt the trick or treating. But I won’t, I tell you! Evil is evil, even if it be clad in adorable little shoes! You're all on notice out there!
This year, though, I have a simple proposal to end the controversy, something I call "Winning the War on All Hallow’s Eve."
Do you people even know what the Feast of All Hallows is? It is celebration of the saints, of all the saints who couldn’t have their own day! It is sort of like President’s Day, a generic day to remember martyrs for Christ! And today, the number of martyrs is growing astronomically. So, while putting pagan symbols on your lawn is blasphemous at any time of the year, it is doubly insulting to God on All Hallows Eve! So we need to recapture the spirit of the original holiday, before the forces of materialism and secularism ruin it. Here are my suggestions on alternate costumes for your children:
Popular Halloween Costume: Princess Proper All Hallow’s Costume: Saint Cecilia Description: Saint Cecilia should carry a musical instrument and have three bloody axe wounds on her neck to signify the three initially failed attempts to behead her.
Popular Halloween Costume: Harry Potter Proper All Hallow’s Costume: Saint Peter Description: Since Saint Peter was crucified upside-down, children will need their parents to hold the base of the crucifix. Don’t use a candy bag with an open top!
Popular Halloween Costume: Spiderman Proper All Hallow’s Costume: Thomas the Apostle Description: Since Thomas was was killed by a spear, make sure that Spidey appears to be impaled. A small pump can be used to similate bleeding. Helpful Hint: Use tomato juice for arterial blood and grape juice for venous blood!
Popular Halloween Costume: Witch Proper All Hallow’s Costume: Saint Agatha Description:: Saint Agatha had her breasts cut off. She is usually depicted carrying her breasts on a tray (which should be held in the opposite hand from the candy bag).
Can you imagine all the little martyrs running around the neighborhood? You can call me a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.
Today’s reading is from “For All the Saints” by Bishop How. I chose it because it was topical, and also because there is a lot of whinging these days about how we don’t need to send our soldiers into Iran. This saddens me, since our government has told us that their Revolutionary Guard are Terrorists, and it was Terrorists that struck us on 9/11! And while death is a sacrifice, it does not come without rewards:
O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold, Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old, And win with them the victor’s crown of gold. Alleluia, Alleluia!
A victor’s crown? Dandy! A victor’s crown of gold? Sweet!
And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long, Steals on the ear the distant triumph song, And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong. Alleluia, Alleluia!
Sure, the troops are tired of being multiple deployments! But our Dear Leader’s constant optimism is nothing if it is not a “distant triumph song”! And the hymn describes that as more rejuvenating than shore leave (and less likely to result in STD’s!) How do you like those apples, Senator Webb?
The golden evening brightens in the west; Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest; Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed. Alleluia, Alleluia!
The golden evening of the West! The wax paper evening of the East!
Do you for a moment believe that the soldiers of Islam go to the paradise of the blessed? Not likely! They talk about 72 houris, but my own experience is that when you are promised virgins, you never end up with virgins. And I’ve got the medical bills to prove it!
But enough about me. Let’s cast our thoughts for a moment to all the soldiers who will have a chance to be martyrs! Not only will they go to the “paradise of the blessed” but they will also, if we win the War on All Hallow’s Eve, live on in the costumes of the Kirby children, carrying bags of candy, their faces covered with IED wounds lovingly painted there by their mother!
I admit that since there are only three people here, none of whom I personally know (although one bears a passing resemblance to a young Lou Dobbs), it had crossed my mind to send you all home early. But then I would not be able to set the record straight.
Let me begin by saying that any similarities between my adventures in Manila and the travails of the valiant Senator Craig (Rrrrr!-Idaho) are purely the result of the fact that even God-fearing men occasionally are tested by the Almighty, especially in small enclosed spaces close to other men. But the idea that I was making fun of Senator Craig’s ordeal is, simply put, depraved.
The other scurrilous rumor that I need to put to rest is that I have been offered the position of Archbishop of Bulawayo in Zimbabwe, after the resignation of Pius Ncube. Archbishop Ncube resigned “after photographs and video purporting to be of him and his secretary together in his bedroom surfaced in the media” according to the left-wing news organization the BBC.
Although Bob Mugabe and I have known each other since studying at Driefontein outside Johannesburg, a time when we both could recite all the lyrics to “Auf Wiederseh’n, Sweetheart” by Vera Lynn, that doesn’t mean I would be his choice to replace Pius Ncube! Au contraire! To tell the truth, Bob hates my guts.
What came between us was Vera Lynn herself. You see, Bob brought her to the Seminary one morning, introducing her as Vera Welch, and she and I immediately hit it off. I offered her a homemade cigarette of the kind I was wont to make at that time in my life, and she enthusiastically accepted. Bob, of course, sat in the corner the entire time occasionally muttering about the Asiatic Mode of Production. Over the next few evenings, he grew almost insanely jealous and spirited her off to Ghana the following week. Vera Lynn eventually escaped, but I don’t think she ever forgave me for not trying to rescue her.
Bob, of course, has been plagued by the infidelities of his political opponents. It is tragic, but I suspect no one was more upset about his having had to level charges against Canaan Banana than Bob. He always holds his opponents up on such a pedestal, and then when they sin, he is truly hurt. His hegemony is that of the lonely idealist who would love for a qualified opponent to take over from him, so that he might finally get some rest. But his opponents always prove too weak!
Today’s reading is from the song “Winter Wonderland” which Vera Lynn used to sing as I giggled by the fireplace.
In the meadow we can build a snowman, then pretend that he is Parson Brown. He'll say 'Are You Married?' We'll say 'No man, but you can do the job when you're in town!’
This is exactly the sort of disrespect with which the clergy is treated today. Prescient in the 1930’s, today this song, despite its avante-garde lyrics and radically tonal harmonies, rings all too true! People regularly do build clergymen out of snow in order to avoid answering the hard questions that any responsible clergyman is wont to ask any couple about to be married, to wit:
- Would you ever be critical of a liar wearing a General’s uniform? - Have you or anyone in your family ever had prurient thoughts in an Aviary? - Did you know that in many countries, it is customary to give the clergyman either a case of Port or a week in your timeshare in Cancun?
But a snowman, what does a snowman ask? What, indeed, does a snowman desire? Eternal Winter! And if there is not to be Eternal Winter, then Eternal Hellfire so that everyone might know the pain of melting in the heat of the first warm day of spring!
That's depraved! As for me, I don’t plan to ever be in your town. So you can go on waiting for your elusive Parson Brown, you hedonistic sinners, as you dance Satan’s Rhumba with your megalomanical homicidal snowpeople and your despicable diseased birds! Pah!
Boo-Yah! "Cuz, Dude, it IS 1999. Meskerem 1st 1999 to be exact. That's right, it's the Ethiopian New Year, or "Enkutatash" as us celebrateurs say. That means that in just one more year, exactly, it'll be the Ethiopian Millennium, so, like, time to start practicing for the big party. Look we got our effigy of Osama Bin Laden and the War Elephant, joined at the hip just like the legend says. ...? Yeah, you know, the legend: In the beginning was the war elephant and Osama was nothing and could not stand without the war elephant, and the war elephant was nothing and could not stand without Osama and so they stand together forever, each one looking like he's the one pushing the other one away. ...? What! How would I know what it means? It's THE LEGEND, man! An this is the day we bring the effigy out. Dude! It means it's time to party like it's 1999!
Friends: Please pardon my absence last week. It embarrasses me to admit to you the circumstances that kept me from my flock. I was stranded in Manila, where I was the victim of a hideous misunderstanding with the local constabulary.
Indeed, last Sunday when I should have been in my pulpit, I was in a different kind of pit altogether. And instead of celibately mastering my weekly message for my loyal members, I was in a cell, weakly massaging -- well, you can imagine how lonely it was!
The story starts in the confessional of the Manila Cathedral, a magnificent building with pineapple finials. In my defense, I have to say that when I found myself in the confessional of the Manila Cathedral, it was simply to do what every man of the cloth uses confessionals for, which is catch up on sleep. This is a fact unknown to most laymen, that much of the reason we clergymen travel in our uniforms, as it were, is that if we look something close to the part of a preacher, we can always slip into one of these “Comfort Inns of the Soul” and spend the night. Every city has a set of confessionals, and although they are cramped, you can’t argue with the low rates.
I was startled to wake up to a shuffling in the neighboring stall, connected through a thin mesh screen. A young man was asking me if I had any sins that I wanted to confess.
Well, the voice sounded familiar to me! It sounded very much to me like an old friend of mine from Idaho, and so I asked if it was he. Unfortunately, in Tagalog slang, I was later informed, my old friend’s name sounds like an invitation to engage in a practice that the Lord shuns so much that he does not even bother to prohibit it in the Bible.
I got no response, so I tried to peer through the grate and see if it really was my friend. Having gotten a mote of dust in my eye, it perhaps did look like I was winking.
When I said that I would like to meet the clergyman behind the Cathedral, I meant that in the sense of wishing to bask in the company of one whose hard work resulted in the construction of the cathedral. Like one would look at Mount Rushmore and say: “I would really like to meet the man behind this Monument!” I did not mean it literally, as if Phillip Vandamm really lived on the other side of Mount Rushmore and I wished to meet him!
Furthermore, I thought that Jaime Cardinal Sin was still the Archbishop of Manila, not realizing he died in 2003. So my reference to Sin actually had an upper case “S,” and the police were entirely wrong about what I meant when I expressed my desire to get to know said Cardinal.
Of course, in these fallen times is quite common to misunderstand things. Which just shows why my innocent explanations were not believed.
Today’s reading comes from Filipina pop star Yasmien Kurdi’s “Love Is All I Need,” which is a song I had not heard before Rodel, my cellmate and a convicted pimp, sang it at least four times each and every hour.
Take me to a place I’ve never been. Sail me a ship I haven’t seen.
Here, I asked Rodel what “a ship I haven’t seen” meant. I assumed it was perhaps a type of ice-breaking ship full of jaunty but firm Russian sailors – the kind that would rarely come to a warm-weather port like Manila. Rodel replied that such a ship represented the opening up of a level of experience that surpasses the ordinary one based on the language of sensation. It is the promise of gnosis, of wisdom through direct communion with the transcendent. Ha! (I didn’t bother telling him that surely a tower crane would have been a more suitable metaphor than a ship if that was truly her intention!)
On the rainbow like a hill in the sky Love is all I need I don't know why.
Here, too, Rodel completely misinterpreted the lyrics. Reasoning that love may refer both to eros and agape, Rodel argued that the singer expressed a longing for deeper meaning in both senses of the word. Ha! I reminded him that in these troubled times, songs that are not explicitly “Christian” are most assuredly about nothing more than fornication.
These differences illustrate that one’s person’s innocent remark may be another person’s salacious innuendo or prurient slander, and I am afraid that I am the one who suffered for the Manila Police Department’s failure to appreciate that fact.
Happily, the week passed without incident, except of course for the one in the Laundry (my lawyer advised me not to mention further details for legal reasons).
Of course, I did lose the trail of the Beast in a crowded cabana in Phuket. But I am grateful for your support, and am enormously happy to be home with you once more!