According to a recovery protocol I just made up, when a person is rounding out his seventh straight week of sobriety, he can get nostalgic about his old life. Last week, while writing my weekly Patheos column, it occurred to me that Catholic writers tend to reach for certain stock phrases and fall into other predictable habits. I am no exception. It’s a mug’s game, writing.
But rather than uncap our blue pens or train our gimlet eyes, let’s pull out our beer cozies and have fun with it — in a good, old-fashioned college-style drinking game.
Start with a bottle of Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse — Bavarian wheat beer that tastes like Dr. Brown’s cream soda but can knock you naked. On the bottle is a crocked Franciscan friar, which is all the denominational correctness anyone needs. Circumstances may call for harder stuff, so stay close to a stocked bar.
Next, click over to some online Catholic publication. With drink in hand, skim the articles, observing the following rules:
For National Catholic Reporter and America Magazine:
1. If the article’s title refers to the “changing” or “emerging” faces of anything, take a sip.
2. If it includes the words “transparency” or “accountability,” take a sip.
3. If a Eugene Cullen Kennedy column features three or more sentences of more than 50 words apiece, take two sips.
4. If the editors use the word “prophetic” to describe someone who’s about to be marched out of the Church to the beat of muffled drums, take two sips.
5. If John Allen, Jr. touts a new papabile, slam it.
For First Things:
1. If someone posts a comment entirely in Latin, take a sip.
2. If the next poster in the thread points out where he incorrectly declined one or more of his nouns, take two sips.
3. If George Weigel makes you feel guilty for sitting out the Cold War in some ivory tower, do a shot of Belvedere.
4. If the word “authority” appears more than ten times in a single piece, smack your neighbor with a rattan cane until he fixes you a gin and tonic and hands it to you along with the benediction “Oh-jollee-good-sahib!”
5. If an article is titled “In Defense of X,” “In Praise of Y,” “Z Reconsidered,” or “The Case for A,” do a body shot off your neighbor — especially if the thing being defended, praised, reconsidered or advocated is a virtue like temperance or modesty.
For Diary of A Wimpy Catholic
I’m a good enough sport to stand a roasting, but not quite a good enough sport to turn up the oven myself. This section I’ll leave for my clever readers to fill in. Remember: have fun, be safe, and don’t do anything I don’t miss doing. If you can’t afford a cab, mi sofa es su sofa.
UPDATE: Patheos has been upgrading all of its blogs these past few days. Last night, right after I submitted this post, the tech guy took care of mine. That’ll mean I have to approve comments, even from people who could comment at will under the old configuration. If you posted last night, I apologize for not getting to your stuff until now.