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Sic’s infallibility bug won’t go away

A man driving up a steep mountain road meets a woman coming down. As they pass, the woman leans out the window and yells, “Pig!” So the man leans out his window and yells back, “Cow!” They continue on their way, and round the next corner the man runs into a very big pig.

If even one harried homilist uses this story to make some theological point next Sunday, Sic’s work won’t have been in vain.

* * *

Now follows some alleged wisdom from children, which, between ourselves, Sic doesn’t believe, ’cause kids simply are not this clever:

“Never trust a dog to watch your food” (Patrick, 10).

“When your dad is mad and asks, ‘Do I look stupid?’ Don’t answer” (Michael, 14).

“Never tell your mom her diet’s not working” (Michael, 14).

“Puppies still have bad breath even after eating Tic Tacs” (Andrew, 9).

“You can’t hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk” (Armir, 9).

“If you want a kitten, start out by asking for a horse” (Naomi, 15).

“When you get bad grades, show them to your mom when she’s on the phone” (Alyesha, 13).

“Never try to baptize a cat” (Eileen, 8).

* * *

“While this might not help in your search for infallibility,” writes May A. Keith from Tampa, who goes on to speculate on some new supernova, the kind of thing that cries out for infallibility. The point is, Sic’s suspect infallibility won’t go away.

Readers may recall the ebullience with which This Space first announced that, yes, Sic was infallible. It is something we look back on with nostalgia. We knew we knew everything. We couldn’t wait to make that first totally-non-wrong pronouncement. Sort of break the ice. And send a message to Rome that the monopoly on the right stuff had finally been torpedoed.

* * *

Nathan Cervo from Peterborough also raises doubt about infallibility in an obscure, postmodern concoction:

If Sic ye be or “hic,” I’m sure

Six snorts the same result secure,

Which is “the pope is fallible,”

I call that untoward sally bull.

“And women priests do we endorse!”

The bull exhausted, now the horse.

* * *

Each time our infallibility got boisterous and began badgering Sic to make that big urbi et orbi whoopee, another small voice would say: Are you sure? Or it would say something slightly more risqué and unprintable. Readers can imagine the pressure. The pope had no such cause for trepidation -- he had Cardinal Ratzinger, who knows everything, covering for him. So Sic lost our nerve and confessed we were a fake all along.

Trouble is: When it comes to infallibility, how can one be sure one is a fake?

* * *

So this female snake charmer and male undertaker got married. Their favorite wedding gift was a set of towels embroidered “Hiss” and “Hearse.”

* * *

The legendary Joe Gallagher “collected, corrected or confected” these “mints for the mind” about his ancestors:

“Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy which sustained him through temporary periods of joy” (W. B. Yeats).

“The Irish are the only people on earth who could not benefit from psychoanalysis” (Freud).

“Where the average person will say that a situation is serious but not hopeless, an Irishman will say it is hopeless but not serious” (unattributed, as are the rest of these).

“Do the Irish have a word for mañana? Well, yes, but nothing with the same sense of urgency.”

“Conversation in Ireland is never impeded by a lack of information on the subject under discussion.”

“The French explode; the Irish stew.”

“St. Patrick converted the Irish. St. Boniface did what he could for the Germans.”

“I have a husband and three other children.” (If you think this applies only to Irishmen, whistle “Danny Boy”).

“An Irishman is a Welshman who could swim.”

* * *

But that infallibility bug won’t go away. Readers keep calling Sic infallible, which is something that folks, whether infallible or not, can’t resist. We think that’s how the popes got the idea in the first place: It was so long since anyone told him/them he/they were wrong about anything.

So the little voice (one of them) kept saying, “Deep down you know you’re right. Just like the pope.”

So we concluded, darn it, it will make our life easier if we’re always right when we feel the need to say it infallibly. We will only use it in case of necessity, like when practically everyone else -- except Cardinal Ratzinger of course -- thinks we’re wrong. This way we hope to put the ungodly in their place, but in a charitable way, if we can think of one.

* * *

Sic’s personal shrink Maggie sent a list of “Children’s books that didn’t make it”:

You Are Different and That’s Bad.

The Boy Who Died from Eating All His Vegetables.

Curious George and the High-Voltage Fence.

All Cats Go to Hell.

Some Kittens Can Fly.

That’s It, I’m Putting You Up for Adoption.

Whining, Kicking and Crying to Get Your Way.

Things Rich Kids Have but You Never Will.

* * *

And finally, when you get home and change into something comfortable, turn on your computer and find www.jesusdance.com

If you are not a computer person, make friends with someone who is.

National Catholic Reporter, December 3, 1999