Maybe it was because I didn’t sleep well last night, but I spent two-thirds of today in a vile mood. Nothing helped — walking the dog, cranking the iPod, surfing the web. Especially not surfing the web. I don’t want to know what everyone’s crazy about at any given moment, particularly Bill O’Reilly. I shut the laptop, read a little, did an interview, organized some notes, melted some blue cheese on Italian bread, sent some e-mail and reflected that what I really wanted was about three Marlboro Lights and a six-pack to go, but unfortunately it wasn’t 11 a.m. yet. Decided instead to go for a drive.

Well, it is the Motor City.

That helped — nothing like a relatively uncrowded freeway and Rodney Crowell very loud to lift one’s spirits.

Also this, which was cheering in a jet-black sort of way, a “there’s one for the Darwin awards” amusement. No link, just the facts, ma’am:

CHICAGO — A 23-year-old man suffered fatal injuries when he fell from his Mt. Prospect balcony during a spitting contest with his friends, police in northwest suburb said Tuesday. Bartosz Drobek was participating in a “spitting contest” with his friends at 12:35 a.m. Monday on the balcony of his apartment building at 1700 W. Palm Drive in the suburb, when he lost his balance and fell to the ground, according to a Mt. Prospect police news release. Drobek struck his head on the pavement two stories below, according to the release. He had earlier gone out onto the balcony to smoke cigarettes with two other people, according to the release. Drobek, his brother and a friend, were competing in a spitting-distance contest, according to Ollech. He said at one point, Drobek crouched down and sprung up to spit off the balcony and went over the railing. His brother and friend immediately called 911 following the accident Drobek had been consuming alcohol prior to the fall, Ollech said.

Of course that’s not cheering at all. Alcohol has a learning curve; sometimes I think the best argument for a walkable college campus with a strict no-cars policy for underclassmen is that it allows you to do at least some of that learning when you’re less likely to hurt yourself. Still.

So let’s move on. I loved the lead on this story:

The Roman Catholic Church is preparing to abolish limbo, the place between heaven and hell reserved for the souls of children who die before they have been baptised.

Isn’t that funny? “Preparing to abolish” limbo, but presumably, until that actually happens, when the Pope tears up the deed or whatever, a few more unbaptized babies will go there, as they’ve done since the 13th century. It’s like the Israelis leaving Gaza — the end in sight, the chaos of moving boxes being carried onto trucks, the tears of longtime residents. So much of Catholic dogma made little sense to me when I was learning it. Now I wonder how I kept a straight face.

Finally, another funny-ha-ha story, which you may have already heard about — the family in Novi who were told to remove their Nativity scene from the lawn, presumably by one of Bill O’Reilly’s anti-Christmas storm troopers, but no, actually by some prigs in the subdivision where they live. Within days, the subdivision mullahs had backed off and peace was back in the valley. But this is my favorite line from the story:

On Nov. 21 the family received a letter asking them to remove the nativity scene but said nothing about the other numerous figures on the lawn, including a holiday Minnie Mouse and Winnie the Pooh along with a Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Is this a great country, or what?

Posted at 10:34 pm in Uncategorized |

25 responses to “Cheerful.”

  1. brian stouder said on November 30, 2005 at 11:04 pm

    Well, when I go for a drive just to go for a drive – Pearl Jam’s “Ten” is usually spinning in the cd player, with their “Lost Dogs” on deck.

    Funny story about the neighborhood mullahs! Today in Indianapolis some federal judge ordered the state legislature to quit saying “Jesus Christ” when they open with prayers in the morning. They can still pray – but they can’t use JC’s name!

    So I wonder if there will be an injunction against saying “Jesus Christ” when a legislator’s bill gets defeated, or when their cell phone rings and the caller id says “mitch daniels”, or if it is lunch time and the legislator discovers she forgot her purse, or….

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  2. alex said on December 1, 2005 at 7:52 am

    I’ll take nativity scenes over these giant, lit-up cartoon figures. At least the former, though tacky, are about a hundredfold less garish.

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  3. Nance said on December 1, 2005 at 8:52 am

    Me, too. I’ve never had a problem with Nativities, at least on private property. But at this house — and at one down the block from me — it shares space with Winnie the Pooh, among others. Ugh.

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  4. Michael G said on December 1, 2005 at 9:33 am

    You’re right, Nance, it is hard to take these guys seriously. But, hey, the Church can open the now disused limbo as a tourist attraction. Maybe with a Caribbean theme. You gotta love these guys, though. They’re concerned about all those thousands of kids dying in infancy so do they come up with a program to clean up land mines, feed the poor, end war, fight AIDS? No. They end limbo. They’re also looking to protect such infants as do survive by barring those awful gays and their uncontrollable urges from the priesthood. And they wonder where the membership has gone. Unfortunately, the Church is no joke. It is, however tragic that such a great potential for doing good worldwide is being wasted by the pinheaded f * * *wits who operate the organization.

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  5. Connie said on December 1, 2005 at 10:36 am

    I was thinking the real problem was just general tackiness, didn’t matter whether it was religious or not.

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  6. brian stouder said on December 1, 2005 at 10:55 am

    “They end limbo”

    This construction is only the crude (and almost certainly wrong) summation that some reporter slapped onto whatever the philosophers and thinkers within the upper reaches of that church have actually done.

    I readily confess profound (and contented!) ignorance about the nuances and fine points of Catholic theology, beliefs, and teachings; and I bet the reporter(s) who tumble to �they ended limbo� are no more abreast than I am, on that.

    By way of saying, if scientists once detected that the earth was cooling and therefore believed it was heading toward a new ice age (in the late �70�s), and �they� now detect global warming and believe that the globe is warming because of things we are doing that we shouldn�t be�..would it be accurate to say �they ended the ice age�?

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  7. Michael G said on December 1, 2005 at 11:10 am

    Well, I was trying to make a kind of tongue-in-cheek comment about the direction the Church is taking. But, yes, the limbo thing is basically that simple. And no, Brian, I can’t buy your analogy linking researchers altering some scientific conclusions based on new data with churchmen changing religious dogma for their own reasons.

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  8. brian stouder said on December 1, 2005 at 12:06 pm

    “I can’t buy your analogy linking researchers altering some scientific conclusions based on new data with churchmen changing religious dogma for their own reasons.”

    Well I see your point, as you might see that “altering some scientific conclusions” might strike one as just as natural and inevitable as “altering some theological conclusions” – without the too-cute “they ended the ice age” or “they ended limbo”.

    And indeed, ideally – the scientific method will push a particular scientist away from her “own reasons” and dogma, even as we might agree that this ideal is impossible for any human being to always adhere to.(For example, the first thing that gets scrutinized when an inconvenient ‘scientific report’ comes out is the funding source for the research project)

    Still, the ideal of sincerely pursuing what is the ‘real’ universal truth exists on several plains – despite humankind’s imperfect, concurrent attempts

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  9. ellen said on December 1, 2005 at 12:46 pm

    The holiday season is the one month of the year to let your inner trailer park loose and go for it.

    My neighbors, who spend the other 11 months of the year commenting on the state of their neighbors’ landscaping, the color of their neighbors’ exterior paint, speculating whose “hardwood floors” might actually be laminate, etc, currently have spotlit plywood cutouts of all 101 Dalmatians wishing us a Merry Christmas in their front yard.

    My husband, who is a white lights and a couple of wreaths kind of guy, breaks out in hives whenever he drives past. But my kids think it is the best house EVER and beg for us to do something similar.

    In my view, whatever the neighbors want to put up for the holidays is fine — lights, cutouts, inflatables, fiberoptic spiral trees, wire reindeer — as long as they take it down.

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  10. 4dbirds said on December 1, 2005 at 2:19 pm

    Spitting contest, hum I bet they double dog dared each other. Can’t sleep? I take a mild sediative from the valium family. Took me years to get over my ‘don’t want to take drugs’ mentality and I am so glad I did. I take it only when needed. I sleep and sleep well. I get up refreshed and haven’t turned into a drug addict yet.

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  11. James Kabala said on December 1, 2005 at 2:35 pm

    Clearly, as Mr. Stouder says, the headline is badly phrased. It’s ridiculous to try to score one off the Church because of the poor word choice of a probably non-Catholic headline writer.

    The content of the article is not much better. Limbo was never an official Church doctrine, much less an infalliably defined dogma. It was merely an opinion held by the majority of theologians. On the other hand, I doubt if there will be an officially proclaimed dogma against limbo either. Most theologians have ignored limbo since Vatican II, while some have continued to believe in it, and I doubt that Benedict has any desire to disturb the status quo. The British press is not always a reliable source for Catholic-related rumors, anyway; the Times of London once reported that John Paul II was going to proclaim that Mary is present in the Eucharist!

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  12. James Kabala said on December 1, 2005 at 2:40 pm

    Michael G: You’re even more willfully ignorant than Ms. Nall. Have you familiarized yourself with any of the Church’s social teaching? The idea that the Church has done nothing to combat poverty, war, disease, etc. is laughable to anyone who has spent more than five minutes investigating the issue.

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  13. Nance said on December 1, 2005 at 3:43 pm

    George Carlin did a pretty good bit on limbo, way back when. And then there’s Jimmy Cliff’s fine “Sitting in Limbo.”

    Sitting here in Limbo

    Waiting for the tide turn.

    Yeah, now, sitting here in Limbo,

    So many things I’ve got to learn.

    Meanwhile, they’re putting up a resistance,

    But I know that my faith will lead me on.

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  14. Dorothy said on December 1, 2005 at 3:48 pm

    I like the word purgatory so much better. Brings up all sorts of mental images of fire licking at the feet of the not-quite forgiven folks stuck between heaven and hell.

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  15. Claire said on December 1, 2005 at 5:34 pm

    My mom and I “baptized” my daughter at the kitchen sink one day about a year ago. I had/have been torn about getting her baptized as I’m a Christian (Lutheran/Presbyterian) and my husband is an Atheist (formerly Church of Scotland)…and we can’t agree on sponsors. So, until that issue is resolved, mom and I took things into our own hands! I’m not sure if it counts “theologically-speaking”, but I’m willing to bet that it counts for something.

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  16. Nance said on December 1, 2005 at 5:54 pm

    Actually, Claire, I think if it’s sincerely offered, it does count. I seem to remember a CCD class where we learned we could perform baptisms, with spit if necessary, in certain situations — like, if you come across a recent car wreck with two dead parents and their newborn clinging to life by a thread.

    This was done to avoid limbo. Lliiimmmmmbooooooo.

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  17. Dorothy said on December 1, 2005 at 6:48 pm

    Yep I seem to remember the same thing, Nance. Every once in a while that Catholic education I had pays off.

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  18. mary said on December 1, 2005 at 9:02 pm

    I was never Christened or Baptized. I think my parents had moved past that phase by the time I was born seventeen years after the first kid in a big family. My Catholic friends all bore me in mind when they gave nickels in church for the “Pagan Babies,” who were going to limbo. I recall June Ann Mac Donald was especially concerned on my behalf.

    Clare, Church of Scotland members and Dutch Reformed Church members make the best Atheists. Growing up with all the Calvinism does it.

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  19. alex said on December 1, 2005 at 10:08 pm

    Oh. My. God.

    That’s actually Bill O’Reilly’s site. I didn’t catch on all through the screeds. It wasn’t until I looked at the links on the lefthand side that it dawned on me. I really thought it was just somebody else just serving him up for laughs.

    I see my fears for the well-being of the Republic were ill-founded. If this man speaks for the right he must be some sort of plant, an enemy double-agent working subterfuge on his program by making conservatism look so unappealing and stupid that no decent person would want any part of it. A liberal conspiracy, surely.

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  20. Connie said on December 2, 2005 at 10:30 am

    Also check out The Bobs version of Sitting here in Limbo. One of my fave oddball groups, described as a new wave comedy acapella rock group. They are at

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  21. Mary said on December 2, 2005 at 10:36 am

    Mary you know I grew up Dutch Reformed. Hmmm.

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  22. TSO said on December 2, 2005 at 11:26 am

    Theology is a science that is often held to a higher standard than science itself – which is kind of humorous. For example, few realize how much bias there is in science. Max Planck said that important scientific innovations come about not by gradually winning over and converting its opponents, but by its opponents gradually dying out. In other words, not even scientists are convinced by demonstration.

    Of course, there’s nothing easier than we hip moderns taking cheap shots at dead truth-seekers, be they theologians or scientists. It’s what we do best!

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  23. Nance said on December 2, 2005 at 12:26 pm

    Theology is a science? I thought it was a school of philosophy.

    If it’s held to a higher standard, it probably because those who practice it claim to be speaking for God. Always a risky proposition.

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  24. Michael G said on December 2, 2005 at 2:06 pm

    I didn�t respond to Brian�s post following my last one because I thought that enough had been said on the subject. Brian had reiterated his own feelings in gentle enough fashion and besides, Nancy�s blog is not a place for a pissing contest. I probably shouldn�t respond now since I�m most likely just pouring gasoline on the fire. I couldn�t let the insult and patronizing tone pass, though.

    As a recovering Catholic, one of the things that has always bothered me about the Church is the endless wrangling about doctrine vs. dogma vs. matters of faith; what has or has not been infallibly stated etc. Shoot, even the concept of infallibility is debatable. Benedict himself is a canon lawyer. The notion that the Church�s matters are so complicated, so arcane as to require a corps of canon lawyers is somewhat scary in itself. Take the concept of limbo. To the millions of faithful, it is just as simple as I stated it in my first post. Doctrine, dogma, it�s all the same to 99% of the Church�s members once the priests and nuns teach something to them. The nuances are not passed on to the great masses. I imagine that one thing that offended you , Mr. Kabala was my lighthearted treatment of what seems to be a serious subject to you. I am sure you were also bothered by my reference to the Vatican administration as a bunch of �f * * *wits�. If the language offended you, I�m sorry. I�m not changing my opinion, however.

    A quick rereading of my post will show that I never said that the Church had done nothing to combat poverty, etc. I stated my belief that the Church had fallen short of its potential for accomplishing good things. Woefully short.

    The Church�s social teachings? I�ve seen a few:

    Homosexuality is evil. Priests cannot be allowed to marry. AIDS? Condoms are bad. Practice abstinence. Birth control? Nope. Full female participation in all facets of the Church�s activities? Nope. Females are second class citizens in the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Accountability? Only for the little fish. None for such glorious holy men as Mahoney and Law. Any sort of bottom up input? Catholics are expected to shut their mouths and open their wallets. As time has gone on, the Church has become more and more exclusionary. This is an odd thing in the face of intense and widespread competition from Islam, evangelicals and the Mormons. However, Benedict himself has stated his intent to slim down the Catholic Church to a smaller organization made up of more and more zealous believers. He wants a boutique religion. Ahhhh, that�s enough. What do they say about talking religion and politics?

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  25. harry near indy said on December 2, 2005 at 10:23 pm

    hey, if the catholic church gets rid of limbo, then what’ll happen to all the virtuous pagans there?

    iirc, in the first cantos of dante’s inferno, dan and virge were travellling through hell’s outskirts/suburbs when they came upon the virtuous pagans — mostly greek and roman — who were virtuous but were denied entry into heaven because they didn’t accept the idea that jesus was the savior.

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