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New decree on pastoral care of lefties

Any NCR reader who has not yet testified before Ken Starr’s grand jury may arrange same by calling your local chancery.

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You think it’s easy being Sic? It hasn’t gotten any easier since, in a paroxysm of hubris, This Space waged war on Satan.

As everyone from here to hell knows, the devil is a tough nut to crack, all scales and talons and that tail. At least that’s the story. So imagine our consternation as day after day we failed to locate anything answering this description.

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The deposit of faith is not a deposit for nothing. It’s no accident that, when Beelzebub is mentioned, words like wily and sinister leap to mind, not words like pushover or dumdum and certainly not significant other.

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Highbrow Sic fans -- if that’s not an oxymoron -- may skip the following drivers’ excuses for doing what they did (sure, it’s twaddle, and we’re embarrassed ourself, but there’s so much existential terror in the neighborhood and only the ridiculous can conquer sin and death, or, in our case, Satan):

“The guy was all over the road. I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him.”

“I thought my window was down, but I found out it was up when I put my head through it.”

“I had been driving for 40 years when I fell asleep at the wheel.”

“My car was legally parked as it backed into the other vehicle.”

“I was sure the old fellow would never make it to the other side of the road.”

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John A. Lynch of Framingham enclosed the bulletin of a certain parish in Massachusetts announcing that two rows of pews would be removed from the back of the church. It turns out the archbishop, a little short of clergy, stipulated that no Mass could be celebrated “at which less than half the seating capacity is filled.”

Some year soon, if this strategy continues, there will be only two pews left and then one pew. Finally, that pew will start getting shorter and shorter. Someone should write a dissertation about this.

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Sic has received an “unofficial translation” from the dubious Maurice F.X. McNulty of an allegedly recent “Declaration on the Pastoral Care of Left-Handed Persons.” A short excerpt will do:

“Having already disposed of other perversions, it becomes necessary to speak out with profound disgust regarding yet another aberration which, like the pulling of a polyester fiber, threatens to unravel the seamless garment of faith.

“This particular menace has been propagated by those who, basing their opinions on spurious sophisms of the pseudo-sciences, claim it is acceptable, or even normal, to use the left hand when engaging in manual activities.”

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Go on, call Starr. You’ll feel better. And maybe get a book deal.

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Local police say Colombia had a total of 1,822 kidnappings last year, a world record. Now for the first time a saint has been abducted. According to Reuters, a pastor of San Pablo named Bianchi has taken the statue of St. Paul, housed for 50 years in the local church, hostage. The church is in terrible shape, Bianchi says, and until the parishioners cough up $5,000 the miracle-working statue will be God-knows where.

At least one parishioner, Humberto Marimon, agrees with the priest: “That saint wouldn’t have left the church if he didn’t want to.”

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Sic’s Pet of the Week is Scully, owned by NCR’s own Teresa Malcolm. The reason: There was no other pet available. Between ourselves, Sic saw this Scully, who looks like a nice dog, attack, with much snarling, John Allen’s pug, a dog so ugly that no other dog should ever get upset with her. As canine tensions run high, Sic wonders if anyone out there has a pet hippo, or a warthog, anything but another dog.

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From the Internet Sic learns of weird trends in the evolution of languages, with hints of worse to come:

“In 20 years, spoken French will have only one sound, a vowel. All consonants and gaps between words and sentences will disappear, leaving only an extended ‘Eauuuuuuuuuuuu.’ Meaning will be inferred from facial expression.”

The redundant French consonants will not be entirely forgotten; they will migrate to Czechoslovakia, which will by then have no use for vowels. Finally, in 200 years, entire books in Germany will be one word. Plus a verb at the end, of course.

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There’s nothing worse than being a cardinal and the word getting out that your brother is a loan shark. That’s what happened to Naples’ Cardinal Michele Giordano. Then before you have time to swing a thurible, the cardinal is accused of collusion in the loansharking.

Sounds like a great time for a miracle, which is what the cardinal worked, according to the Associated Press, when he caused a vial of the dried blood of St. Gennaro, patron saint of the city, to liquefy “after 50 minutes of intense prayer.”

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So anyway, we’re walking home after work when, right before our eyes stood a person (gender etiquette gets tricky here) impeccably dressed in blue stripe suit, smiling a beguiling smile, waving at yours truly. We found ourself drawn to this attractive personage who was wearing dark glasses and sporting wavy hair, the non-gray kind that Sic would kill for.

Then, to our surprise, we noticed the handsome person also sported a couple of horns, in the usual place, not big ostentatious horns but small discreet ones. Odd, we thought. Sure, it’s October, but it’s not Halloween. So we smiled our most ingratiating smile. ... (to be continued). (This is the first time we have used suspense to hold readers hostage. We were crazy not to do so sooner.)

National Catholic Reporter, October 23, 1998