A Few Readers Write Me About The Cardinal Dolan Bar Joke…

You know how some things are just so obvious that you figure everyone will “get” a joke? Comedians (not me, as I would likely starve if I had to make folks laugh for money) make their living on being able to size up situations that we all encounter, and then present them in ways to help us see the humor in them.

Underlying this notion is the idea that most people in the audience will understand where you are coming from. But guess what? Not everyone does.

Over on the blog’s Facebook page, someone left this in the combox for the joke I told back in April, which I shared again yesterday with the lede, “After the conventions, this joke is even funnier than it was the first time around.

Can you give me a straight answer, YIM? Are you accusing Cardinal Dolan as a liberal, moderate, and conservative? Yes, or no. If yes, why.

You see, he had asked about the joke in an earlier comment, and I had assumed he kind of knew where I was coming from. He had asked,

Are you implying that Cardinal Dolan is a liberal, moderate, and conservative? I don’t think so. He is a Catholic Cardinal.

It being Facebook, and all, I responded back with a three word answer that I figured would be a big hint and help clear up matters for him. “Full Spectrum Man,” I said, which I had mentioned in a post before.  But that didn’t clear up things, and instead I got the query on whether I was making accusations. I also had another reader write me as follows,

Frank – I am still thinking about the 3 people coming into the bar – I AM WORRIED – is it that easy – or is it one of those that suddenly you get and go into hysteria ? I cannot see it YET.

Truth be told, neither one of these people may ever “get” the joke, though on a “get it” to “not” scale, it’s pretty lopsided to the “get it” side. When I first shared it, I acknowledged that I didn’t know whether it was funny or not, but that it was true.

So the question is not, “is Cardinal Dolan a liberal, a moderate, and a conservative?” The question is, why do I think it’s self evidently true?

Simple. Because being Catholic transcends political labels. And if it doesn’t, then something is wrong with the religion.

Because if anything is certain about Christianity from the Catholic perspective it’s this: it doesn’t adhere to any single political party line. The teachings of the Church may rhyme with this party’s take on something, and that party’s take on others, but the Church and her teachings transcend the labels, because Jesus himself transcends them.

So to answer the first query, no, I’m not implying or accusing Cardinal Dolan of being a liberal, and a conservative, and a moderate; I’m recognizing that to be Catholic he must in some regard be all three.

I recognize this because I recognize that I myself, if I am thinking clearly about the mission of the Church, and my vocation as a Christian within her, must transcend the three labels, as well as every other secular label that we attempt to categorize people with.

So no, I don’t accuse or imply, I pray that this is true of Cardinal Dolan and I pray that it can be true in myself.

As for the second query, please stop worrying. It’s only a joke. But hopefully, the little explanation I wrote above, and maybe this old post from the archives, will help you see clearer.

Either way, when you’re walking the Way, life is a work in progress. Don’t be so deadly serious about the journey that you can’t crack a smile. Speaking of comedians, check out Brian Regan on flying,

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p.s. When you have comments you want me to see ASAP, it’s best to leave them in the combox here at the blog rather than over on Facebook. For “sanity check” purposes, I don’t get notified by Facebook, or Twitter,  about comments and such.


  • J. H. M. Ortiz

    Since Mr. Weathers in an earlier blog not only mentioned but even posted a photo of the 20th-Century French “peasant” Jacques Maritain, maybe he as well as some of his readers would be interested in the latter’s take on politics and Catholics vis à vis the liberal/moderate/conservative “thing”, as expresed in his book Peasant of the Garonne (second chapter): “A healthy Christian politics … would undoubtedly seem to go pretty far to the left as regards certain technical solutions, … and in its demands for the transformation of the present economic regime. In reality, however, it would have absolutely original positions, proceeding, in the spiritual and moral order, from very different principles than the conceptions of the world, life, the family, and the city, which prevail in the various parties of the left.”

    • Frank Weathers

      That’s one of my favorite books by Maritain. I picked it up at the local public library used book sale for a buck. It was a dollar well spent. He also said,right after the paragraph you shared,

      …Just as, in the spiritual order, which is supra-political, the liberty of the Christian requires that he be all things to all men, and carry his testimony to all corners, fostering everywhere those bonds of friendship, fraternal kindness, natural virtues of fidelity, devotion, and gentleness, without which we cannot really help each other, and without which supernatural charity, or what we take for it, is in danger of freezing, or of turning into clannish proselytism—to that same extent, in the political order itself, our chief concern in the absence of an appropriate vehicle for a vitally Christian politics, should be to protect the inner germ of such a politics against everything that would risk altering it.

      The more this germ remains fragile, hidden, and contested, the more intransigence and firmness are required to keep it pure…From now on the most barren conditions, and with awkwardness of first beginnings, the signal has been given. Even though the invisible flame of the temporal mission of the Christian, of that Christian politics which the world has not yet known, should burn in some few hearts only, because the wood outside is too green, still the witness borne in this way would at least be maintained, the flame handed on. And amid the increasing horror of the world where justice, force, liberty, order, revolution, war, peace, work, and poverty have all been dishonored, where politics does its job only by making them accomplices in the crimes of history, where the dignity of the human person is endlessly flouted, the defense of this dignity and of justice, and the political primacy of those human and moral values which make up the core of our earthly common good, would continue to be affirmed, and a small ray of hope would continue to glimmer for mankind in a rehabilitation of love in the temporal order. The principle of the lesser evil is often, and rightly, invoked in politics. There is no greater evil in this field than to leave justice and charity without witness within the temporal order itself, and in regard to the temporal good.

      Yes, the brilliant Thomist notes that the lesser weevil is a prudent course of action (especially in light of understanding how the game is constructed).

  • Ted Seeber

    I’m still amazed by people who are liberal, or conservative, or moderate. Seems natural to me to take the best of all three.