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Sic fails to go gently into any good night

Anyone out there? Sorry about this. Sic really tried to get lost. Just ceased to exist, like Jimmy Hoffa or fish on Fridays. One week we were there, our old irrepressible self, and the next week -- history. Sure, there was joy in Mudville on the part of certain parties -- for which we can't altogether blame them. Sighs of relief were suspected.

There were also occasional expressions of regret at Sic's demise. These we intend to exploit to the full.

* * *

Hey, look at us. Hurtling through space at an unholy speed, in constant danger of running into debris or angels or out-of-control galaxies. Who knows when a planet like ours might encounter, for example, a turnip? Or one of those velvet pictures of Elvis. Or Elvis.

In such a high-stakes world we have no option but to go for the gusto. Make that leap of faith. Live the tormented but exuberant life, the kind of existential brio that Vatican cardinals are always urging.

Sic waited in vain for someone to make sense of it all, to untangle, as it were, the tangled skein, put a spin on the eventualities and quiddities that cry out for meaning. No one spoke up, so here we are. Back.

* * *

Not long ago, 500 couples from West Timor, after half a century of living in sin, got married in what the Guardian of England called "an attempt to recover their morality."

Members of the Atoni tribe, effectively cut off from the outside world, they can scarcely be blamed for their loose morals. As the paper reported, "they are deserting their fertility god, the crocodile, and embracing Roman Catholicism."

Sic is willing to wager you read it here first.

* * *

But what makes This Space priceless (though readers would never admit it) is stuff like the following excerpts from British military performance reports:

"His men would follow him anywhere, but only out of curiosity."
"This officer is not so much a has-been, more of a won't be."
"When she opens her mouth, it seems this is only to change whichever foot was previously in there."
"He would be out of his depth in a car park [parking lot] puddle."
"When he joined my ship, this officer was something of a granny; since then, he has aged considerably."
"Since my last report he has reached rock bottom -- and has started to dig."
"She sets low personal standards and then consistently fails to achieve them."
"This officer should go far -- and the sooner he starts the better."
"This man is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot."
"Works well when under constant supervision and cornered like a rat in a trap."

* * *

An Irish bookmaker (they're called turf accountants over there) was, last September, offering odds of 20-1 that priests would be allowed to marry by the end of 1997.

The odds were 33-1 against a married bishop by 2000; 1,000-1 against a married pope.

No one thought to specify whether the married pope would be a man or a woman.

* * *

We may have mentioned this before: Women priests may well be getting ordained even as we speak, in quiet ceremonies by savvy bishops who see a priest problem. Not dozens or hundreds but thousands, if you ask Sic. They're all waiting for an ecclesial wind-shift, and then there will be the mother of all news conferences.

You read it here first -- at least once.

* * *

But seriously, the following, from NCR correspondent Paul Jeffrey in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, is the kind of objective reporting that warms Sic's cockles:

"I used to wait at the docks for the tide to push the arriving banana boats up to the pier, then hold my breath until they threw us the latest bundle of NCRs. Fighting off the local Jesuits, I'd rip the wrapping off the bundle and tear open the NCR, searching frantically for Dear Old Sic. I would read it right there on the dock, even before I read my own articles. ... Please, Sic, come back."

Once again, Sic has answered a reader's prayers.

* * *

Sharp readers will have noticed that the return of Sic is perpetrated without much fanfare from you-know-who on page 2 (and we don't mean Anthony Padovano). No promo for This Space, no balloons or fireworks, no mention, nada. The lack of a byline at the top of this page also speaks for itself. Sic is hung out to dry, left blowing in the wind, out on a limb like the bare boy who stood on the burning deck -- pick your own cliché.

* * *

Readers may recall you-know-who's sarcastic reference, in the Feb. 14 issue, to Sic as "a sulking entity," in addition to other indignities. We would remind y-k-w that there was a Sic long before he clawed his way to page 2.

There may be a feud brewing here, and readers may eventually be called upon to declare which they like better: Sic or Inside NCR.

* * *

What This Space needs in order to win back readers is a blockbuster something -- perhaps gimmick is the right word. We think, maybe, a limerick competition. To be called the Amazing Big Sic Limerick Competition. Limericks, as everyone knows, have precise rules and hallowed traditions, but anyone bound by such rules could never win this one.

The winner will receive a well-worn Ronald Reagan T-shirt that unfortunately doesn't fit Sic anymore.

* * *

This time it's going to be different. Sic, who is, as nearly everyone knows, infallible (it came over us around the time Cardinal Ratzinger declared infallibly that women could not be priests, not now, not ever) has nevertheless stumbled repeatedly when it came to making the big pronouncement that all ordinary people would have to believe ever after. It frankly scared us to think folks could go to hell for not believing the Sic slant on reality. Unless, of course, we also declared hell infallibly kaput.

Anyway, we have girded our self with new fortitude and will hunt down infallibilities left and right, without fear or favor, and tell the world what's what.

* * *

But really -- strictly between ourselves -- this isn't Sic at all, only a clone.

National Catholic Reporter, March 14, 1997