Friday, July 25, 2014

The Gift That Keeps on Giving (and Taking)

We here at Lay Pulpit have written much about traddieland’s cult-masters and their preoccupation with appearances and with the externals of Catholicism, and we have given many examples of such.  But we’re always grateful when we get new, fresh evidence of it – especially from the cult-masters themselves.  This past week, Dannie Dolan, Southwest Ohio’s premier traddie tinhorn, has come through once again to oblige us on that score. We at Lay Pulpit like to think of him as “the gift that keeps on giving.”  He always seems to give us fresh material to use against him.

A recent Lay Pulpit article, for instance, lamented traddieland’s preoccupation with “externals” such as dress codes, stating -- amongst other things -- the following: “Many [traddie parishioners] are “mini-policemen,” chiding parishioners (especially visiting newcomers) about such things as ‘dress code’ and ‘conduct’ in church.  So what does Dannie do? He confirms our suspicions with the following: Speaking about Sunday church dress, our own faithful generally dress so well – modestly – that sometimes visitors from the other local traditional churches really stand out. It would be nice if we all could at least agree not to come to church casually dressed or even in slovenly attire, but in our Sunday best, for Our Lord, for His house and day.”  (Dannie, did you and Tony ever consider starring in a remake of the movie Dumb and Dumber?) 

As has been emphasized in so many Lay Pulpit articles, the cult-masters and their obliging automatons dwell on externals like that, while ignoring fundamental Catholic moral precepts.  It’s just one facet of traddieland’s fascination with caricaturizing Catholicism: with ostentation, and with puritanical rules and regulations designed to manipulate and control – and whose ultimate raison d'être is material gain.  Dannie and his pharisaic brown-nosers love to look down their own noses at the publican scum whose dress does not meet their “standards” (just as they condemn those who violate any other of their long laundry list of shibboleths).

Dannie’s Bishop’s Corner this past week was a tour de force of everything he holds dear: a conglomeration of sanctimonious “sweet nothings,” poetic waxing about the grisly culinary habits of his cats, and his everlastingly banal banter about the weather.  His opening sentence was this: “Curious how some people always speak first about the weather, isn’t it?”  Curious?  Hilarious!  There’s not a week that goes by that Dannie doesn’t mention something “meteorological” in his rag – a kind of ecclesiastical Weather Channel™ for boot-licking morons.  And this time, he made no less than five references to the weather.

Between weather reports, Dannie mused fancifully, as he often does, about his cats: Puccini, Vivaldi, and Caravaggio.  It seems that Puccini and Caravaggio were sick several days from (presumably) “munching out” on some dead critter.  It’s curious that he didn’t mention Vivaldi; perhaps Vivaldi is “the late” Vivaldi – and he was that critter! (Or, perhaps, the critter was something “left behind” by one of the school principal’s sons.)  It’s amazing, though, how often Dannie finds fascination in reporting about either the cats’ gruesome gastronomic pursuits, or their latest carnivorous romp involving some unfortunate animal. (Kind of makes one wonder what really makes Dannie tick, doesn’t it?)  Perhaps next time he could videotape it, so it could be used as a “visual aid” for the school’s biology class (or as comedic relief for the school principal’s sons).

But, you know, it’s odd that – amidst all the syrupy sanctimony, the “weather reporting,” and the “Bergoglio bashing” (albeit amateurishly done) that he does in his Bishop’s Corner -- he didn’t make any pleas for money.  But actually, he rarely does there. (Bishop’s Corner is usually reserved for “sweet nothings” and the “weather report.”)  He does enough of that elsewhere, including – as a commemorative tribute to the Temple money-lenders of old – during the Mass.  Yes, around Offertory time, when the basket is being passed around to fleece whatever’s left of the sheep’s daily bread, Dannie makes a direct plea to those out there in cyber-land (to whom his pontifical pageant is beamed every week): he actually tells them to push the (Pay Pal) “donate” button on SGG’s website!

Well, we here at Lay Pulpit don’t think it should stop there.  There are literally zillions of ways, other than cyber pleas and commemorative paver stones, that funds can be generated – and we have a few to offer.  Our first idea is inspired by Dannie’s fiesta frolic (this past Lent) in Latin America (you know – the one where he pigged out on “copious quantities of meat,” missed his Lenten pleasure boat ride on the bay, but did a lot of “photo op” processions with the campesinos).  Well, we think it’s time that the Gringo campesinos (aka SGG’s parishioners) should get in on the act, too, now that Lent’s over (remember, Gringos aren’t allowed to frolic during Lent!).  They should have their own little fling – with a Latin flair, of course.

Tickets for the “fiesta” could be purchased by the parishioners for, say, $100 a couple, plus $25 per kid (pre-natal kids half-price).  The SGG school principal, of course, would be handling all the ticket arrangements (plus providing the musical entertainment, with his Heinrich Himmler Mariachi Band).  There could be “fun” games (“Pin the tail on the bishop,” a “Chaquita Cekada piñata,” etc.); and, perhaps, the kids could sing Latino songs (dutifully learned at summer camp, under pain of mortal sin).  There could even be a “Latino costume contest” (judged by Dannie, of course).  However, any kid dressed “inappropriately” would be flogged (by the school principal, of course – just like he did to that kid back in ’09 for missing his homework assignment), and then barred from the church property.  (But, to preserve the “festive” air, the flogging could be done with a piñata stick.)

The food, of course, would be “festive” and Latin-themed.  Parishioners would feast on Spanish rice, “El Camino Real” road-kill, re-fried beans, and other methane-rich goodies, while Dannie and his entourage would have food brought in (by limousine) from La Petite France.  Any parishioner caught trying to trade his food-stamp fare for Dannie’s victuals would, of course, be disciplined by the school principal (not flogged, though; that’s only for anyone he can intimidate, such as women and children), but only temporarily banned from church property -- provided he pay the prescribed “re-entry fee”).

And, to top off the “Mariachi evening,” there could be -- in keeping with the “Latin” theme (and in lieu of a formal procession) -- a “Macarena,” with everyone (including Dannie and Tony) participating.  Remember the “Little Caesar’s” pizza commercial of some years back, where -- at the end of the “Macarena” line -- there was a dog?  Well, instead of a dog, this macarena line could have – you guessed it -- a donkey (yes, the very one from Dannie’s Palm Sunday procession!).  Dannie in front, the donkey bringing up the rear -- or vice versa, just to confuse the parishioners!

For our next fund-raising idea, we offer something that came to us while reading about the cats getting sick on carrion: the parishioners could gather up whatever decomposing remains they could find from around the SGG environs (including adjoining streets), and then give them to Caravaggio and Puccini to eat (and to Vivaldi, if he’s still “with us”).  Then, when the inevitable happens (i.e., they start “ejecting”), Dannie could “judge” what kind of critter it was that they had ingested.  If he gave the correct answer, every parishioner would have to ante up fifty bucks; but if he gave an incorrect answer, they’d have to pay only half that sum.  We even came up with a name for the event – in the spirit of SGG’s fondly cherished “jog-a-thon” of yore, we thought we might call it the barf-a-thon.

One drawback to this fund-raiser, of course, is “risk.”  How sick will the cats get from ingesting that stuff?  Will the event “net” enough money after their medical bills (or funeral expenses) are paid?  For that reason, we make bold to offer our final fund-raising suggestion: bobble-head dolls – of Dannie, Tony, and Big Don!  Not just any bobble-head dolls, mind you: we’re talking interactive bobble-heads!  When you talk to them, these babies talk back to you!  For instance, when you talk to “Dannie,” it either 1) whispers “sweet nothings” to you, or 2) gives you the weather report.  When you talk to “Tony,” he either 1) ignores you, 2) talks condescendingly to you, or 3) starts pontificating about a) why one-handed ordinations are valid, or b) why Terri deserved to die.  And when you talk to “Big Don,” he immediately starts sputtering and sparking, flies into a rage, and then harangues you for several minutes!  Fun, huh?  The dolls, by the way, can be “re-programmed” with different “sweet nothings,” “pontificating,” or “haranguing” – all available at extra cost.

But we’ve saved the best for last: our most super-duper, phantasmagorical fund-raising idea ever!  This one came to us when we did our “surfing” on SGG’s website, and found out about the aforementioned “donate button” that the “cyber viewer” can push to supplement what the parishioners (who are actually present at Mass) put in the collection basket.  This is a clever ploy of Dannie’s, because the “cyber attendees” aren’t really at Mass (or receiving Communion); they are getting none of its real benefits – but Dannie is getting real money in return. 

Well, we think he can “expand” on this: consider that, out there in cyber-land, there are not only adults but kids – precocious but impressionable little tykes – that Dannie could “tap.”  It could work something like this: “Hi, boys and girls!  Uncle Dan here!  Now, what Uncle Dan wants you to do is to go into mommy or daddy’s purse or wallet, pull out their credit card, and type its number in the appropriate box on Uncle Dan’s web page, and then hit the Pay Pal “donate” button!  Remember, “Pay Pal” is my pal; he’s your pal; he’s everybody’s pal!  Oh, and one more thing, boys and girls: if you can get hold of mommy or daddy’s checkbook, that’s even better!  And if you can’t actually write out the check or mail it to me, just type in the account number on our web page -- and don’t forget the “routing” number, too!  Don’t forget, or you’ll make Uncle Dan sad – and your dog will die!  (Wow, can you see the possibilities here?!!)

But, of course, we offer our “ideas” in jest.  And to suggest that Dolan would target children is a little far-fetched.  Or is it?  The brain-dead culties on whom he preys are, common-sense-wise, pretty childlike themselves, at least in their gullibility -- and he certainly exploits that gullibility.  We may have been in jest – but he is not.  As we said before, he may be “the gift that keeps on giving”; but, unfortunately, he is “the gift that keeps on taking” as well.  His latest “Pay Pal” ploy is just the latest in a long series of mercenary maneuvers that he has devised to feather his nest (at the expense of the gullible).  In the end, his schemes will net him nothing; but, along the way, many people will get hurt -- both materially and (of course) spiritually.  As the late P.T. Barnum so aptly quipped, “There’s a sucker born every minute” – and traddieland has a bumper crop of them. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Intellectual Tyranny

Recent articles on the Pistrina Liturgica website have been dealing with case histories detailing misbehavior by derelict priests.  One case involves a group of priests who attempt to steal money donated for a specific cause (a shrine to the Infant of Prague).  When the lay coordinator of the chapel asks them what they did with the money, they ban him from the property.  Eventually, after a court battle, he and his fellow parishioners get the money (and their chapel) back from the derelict priests, after which, they turn the chapel over to the local diocese as an indult Mass center (now operated by the FSSP). .  [For full article, click here.]

The second case involves an even more derelict priest -- one who commits two criminal acts.  First, he loses control of his car (while speeding) and kills a six-year old girl; then, after serving a prison sentence for that, he fornicates with (and impregnates) a female parish member (who later gets an abortion).  The woman subsequently sues the priest and the parish.  The parish settles out of court (for $90,000), and the priest settles for $100,000 – but the priest declares bankruptcy and skips town.  [For full article, click here.]

Both articles received numerous comments from readers.  In the first article (involving the “shrine money”), an “anonymous” respondent chose to ignore the article’s main point (the priests’ thievery) and instead seized on the article’s mention of the parishioners “going Novus Ordo,” and used that “opening” to start a protracted argument about the validity of “traditional” vs. “Novus Ordo” priestly orders.  It seemed to matter little to this “commenter” that the priests were liars and thieves who unjustly (and unsuccessfully) tried to defraud their parshioners and dismiss those who dissented – and that a civil court sided with the parishioners against this obvious injustice.  What mattered to him was that the parish was “turned over” to the (Novus Ordo) diocese.  It also didn’t seem to matter to him that the priests’ thievery was the cause of the parishioners “going Novus Ordo” – that it was this thievery that “drove them into their arms.”

The commenter kept on his peripheral detour, until the original point of the article was totally lost in the tangential discussion -- a cheap debating trick often used by hacks whose own positions are themselves indefensible.  He tried (in vain) to discredit both the article and its author; but the only thing that he succeeded in doing was to 1) enable the author to prove his point several times, 2) make it embarrassingly clear to everyone that he was on a witch hunt, and 3) thoroughly embarrass and discredit both himself and the cult-masters whom he was trying to defend.  Like all those who seek to destroy others, he destroyed himself.

The commenter on the second article fared even worse.  He, too, ignored the article’s subject (a derelict priest’s criminal acts, including manslaughter and fornication) and instead accused the article’s author of writing “a bunch of feminist crap” (thereby betraying his own obvious gender bias).  He made no reference whatsoever to the priest’s vehicular manslaughter, but instead concentrated on the “fornication” part – to preemptively introduce his “feminism” allegation.  He tried to put the priest’s victim on trial, insinuating that she was as much to blame as the priest.  The fact that the priest, a man of the cloth, broke his vow of chastity didn’t seem to matter, nor did his vehicular manslaughter of an innocent six-year-old -- or his intentionally fraudulent bankruptcy maneuver (and skipping town) to avoid his legal and moral obligations.  By all accounts, the man is a moral leper.

These “anonymous” commenters (and, actually, it was most probably the same commenter in both articles) epitomize the all-too-typical traddie mindset: dodge the real issue, change the subject, and “do whatever it takes” to explain away the misdeeds of derelict clergy -- simply because they are clergy.  It also underscores the traddie preoccupation with appearances, with cosmetics, and with avoiding the truth (especially when one wants to conceal wrongdoing).  And it is also a measure of the irrational hypocrisy of “Anonymous” (not to mention, his stupidity), who thinks that, if a priest does wrong, it should be covered up, not cured.  Indeed, “Anonymous” commented: “If the big shots in the sede universe read this blog, please realize that it's stories of misbehavior and unaccountability that has sandbagged your cause and hampered it.”

According to sick minds like this, derelict clergy who engage in such acts are to be excused (or even exonerated), simply because -- if that sort of thing gets out -- “it looks bad for the cause.”  In their minds, bad priests should be “protected” simply because they are priests – and those who expose their evil are to be condemned.  This, unfortunately, is all-too-typical traddie thinking: “Don’t remove the dung heap, cover it up”; and, “shield the guilty,” and “crucify those who un-shield it.”  This mindset is not new.  It is as old as the Pharisees, who excused Barabbas but crucified our Lord – God Himself, Innocence Personified – for exposing their evil. 

And the Pharisees’ modern-day counterparts – today’s double standard, truth-twisting traddies – are following in their footsteps.  If this, then, is “traditional” Catholicism, it is not a tree bearing good fruit, but a cancer to be cut out.  It needs to be discarded, because it is not Catholic.  It is false. It is hypocritical.  It is Pharisaic.  It is evil.  Until traddieland’s all-too-prevalent mindset changes -- until it rids itself of its phoniness and hypocrisy – it will founder.  It must rid itself of that, and start embracing humility and charity.  Then, and only then, will real Catholicism take root and flourish once again. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Intellectual Honesty

It seems that whenever one “traddie (traditional Catholic) meets with another, one of the first questions asked is, “Where do you go to church?”  And if you answer to one's satisfaction on that query, he then goes on to the next bit of interrogation, such as, “How often?”  Or, “Who do you think was the last valid pope?”  Or, “Was that you that I saw at that ‘Novus Ordo’ funeral (or wedding)?”  Or, “Are you [or are you not] a ‘sedevacantist’?”  The questioning goes on until he finds some technicality on which to “hang” you – at which point, the questioning stops, and then pregnant silence sets in (or said traddie not-so-subtly changes the subject, begs to be excused, and then leaves).  Later, behind your back, you are duly (and ritualistically) condemned for whatever wrong answer you gave.  Traddieland seems to have a bumper crop of such drudges whose only aim in life is to find out peoples’ business, then crucify them for not “dotting the right i's and crossing the right t's.”

And besides being amateur Grand Inquisitors, many traddies are “arm-chair theologians” who like to quote from whatever latest book they’ve read, or who parrot what they’ve just heard from whichever cult-master they're revering at the time – and who are eager to show off their new-found “erudition” on such “articles of faith” as sedevacantism, “una cum,” etc.  And, of course, they “cherry pick” whatever opinions or data support their position, and ignore (and condemn) those that don’t.  Many of them, too, are “amateur historians,” with varying degrees of (incomplete) knowledge about Church history, freemasonry, the Illuminati, Zionism – whatever they've “boned up on” to impress others with their ersatz erudition.

One of the things that many love to point out is the fact that our country was founded by “a bunch of Masons.”  Yes, that is true: most of our founding fathers were Masons; but, for the most part, they were God-fearing men; and our country was – at that time – thoroughly Christian in nature and actions; and Catholicism was allowed to flourish unencumbered, without fear of persecution -- while back in the mother country, it suffered persecution as late as the mid-nineteenth century (when Britain starved Catholic Ireland halfway into extinction).  Because of the Constitution drafted by our forefathers, we are free to worship, assemble, and express our opinions as we choose.

Amateur traddie “historians” like to “condemn” our forefathers, yet the very fact that they can express that “condemnation” without fear of reprisal is owing to the freedoms promulgated and guaranteed by those very forefathers.  Yes, a Catholic theocracy based on true Catholic principles is a Utopia we all wish for – but when will that realistically be achieved?  The closest the world got to that was in the earlier Middle Ages – the “Age of Faith.”  But that gave way to greedy, worldly clerics (and to abuses such as Lay Investiture and Simony), culminating in the Protestant Revolt – a train wreck from which we are still recovering.  The return to a Catholic Utopia has so far been an elusive pipe dream – and traddieland has done precious little to “make it real.”  

Traddieland has, instead, emulated not “Utopia” but that which destroyed Utopia: worldly self-seekers more interested in spreading their influence than in spreading the Faith – that, plus much of traddieland has calcified into a mass of letter-of-the-law “tinkling cymbals and sounding brass” who, more often than not, don’t even follow that letter.  Instead, they condemn people for mere trivialities, yet ignore fundamental Catholic morality: a girl’s wearing an athletic headband in church is “a mortal sin,” yet a school principal’s sons watching porn on a computer is “boys will be boys.”  They preach about “the dignity of life,” yet justify the murder of a Terri Schiavo, or the harvesting of a heart from a “donor” for a wealthy parishioner’s child.

This mentality has trickled down to the parishioner level, where the culties love to mimic their cult-masters (especially to malign the cult-master’s enemies -- which, of course, earns them “brownie points”).  Many of them are “mini-policemen,” chiding parishioners (especially visiting newcomers) about such things as “dress code” and “conduct” in church.  Any woman wearing a sleeveless dress, or not wearing a head covering -- or whose hemline is not well below the knees, or who is caught being “disrespectful” (e.g., whispering to someone during Mass) – is duly admonished.  Violating any of these “rules” may result in being denied Communion (and, in some cases, being escorted from the church).  Yet, when a boy (who happens to be the school principal’s son) impregnates a fellow student, nothing is said (or done) about that.  [In fact, he may even be featured in a complimentary article in a subsequent church bulletin – and was).

Another way this Puritanism manifests itself is prudishness in speech.  For instance, a man once reacted to a pack of lies that his pastor told (about his deceased father) by rightfully calling them “bullshit.”  He was then condemned as “un-Catholic” by a fellow parishioner for using that word.  She said nothing about the fact that the pastor told a bald-faced lie: that was okay -- because “he was a priest.”  But a layman using the word “bullshit” -- that was “un-Catholic.”  It seems that using a “toilet” word is sinful, but sullying a deceased man’s character isn’t. 

In traddieland, Catholic common sense has vanished – and been replaced by tyrannical Puritanism, dispensed by letter-of-the-law, “holier-than-thou” martinets ready to jump all over anyone who makes a false move.  And all of that behavior – the Puritanism, the ersatz “intellectualism,” the prudery, the prying, judgmental questioning – is directly traceable to the cult-masters, and their preoccupation with what looks good (vs. what is good).  It’s all about superficiality, about appearances, about sanctimony, about HYPOCRISY.

These witch-hunters -- instead of interrogating people with long litanies of prying, fault-finding questions -- need to ask one another (and themselves) only two questions: 1) Do you love God with your whole heart and your whole soul?  and 2) Do you love your neighbor as yourself?  And the other thing that they need to keep in mind (and observe) is this: “Judge not, lest ye should be judged.”  Traddieland’s problem is simple: too much false piety, too much “holier-than-thou” ostentation, too much superficiality – in short, too much “sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.”  Its solution is simple, too: it needs CHARITY.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Let's Play "Travelers' Tribunal" Too!

The website Pistrina Liturgica is currently running a series of articles featuring a “game” called Travelers’ Tribunal, where case studies of traddie priests’ misdeeds are presented, and where the reader of the case study then decides on the appropriate punishment to be meted out to that priest.  It’s a fun game – so much so, that we’ve decided to have a go at it ourselves.  (After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!)  For our “case study,” we’ll pick one about, not stealing, but lying, and one that involves, not one cleric, but two.  We’ll analyze this case thoroughly, to give the reader enough information so as to come up with an appropriate verdict.  Ready to play?  Here goes!

The scene is a traddie church, where it’s Palm Sunday, and there’s a procession going on.  Since the cleric (the church’s pastor) in the procession is (reportedly) a “bishop,” the church’s bell is being rung while it’s going on.  But the bell’s rope gets “stuck,” and the bell can no longer be rung.  The man ringing the bell (a church usher) silently motions what is wrong to the pastor, who nods in understanding.  Meanwhile, another man (a church custodian) tries to fix the problem, but fails.  The procession goes on in silence. 

In a subsequent church bulletin, the pastor makes mention of what happened: “The bells were silent, though, as the rope got caught during their final ringing by a long time and loyal usher…”  Later, he states, “[name omitted], our highly sociable assistant caretaker around the church, perceiving the problem (not the doctrinal issues, but the bells), came running with the ladder to put things right.” [Bold face emphasis ours -- which will be explained later.]

But sometime later, in a subsequent newsletter, the church’s assistant pastor [apparently forgetting what the pastor had said] writes: “When on Palm Sunday 2009 our school principal (also the head usher) tried to get the usher [the “loyal usher” in our case study] to ring the bell at the proper time during the procession, said usher took offense.”  In that same newsletter, he also implies that the usher’s “taking offense” is connected to what he (the assistant pastor) had previously said about the usher’s son some years back during the “Terri Schiavo” affair: I had inadvertently gored his [the usher’s] ox in 2005, when I wrote an article criticizing a pompous doctor who presumed to pronounce on matters of moral theology. It turned out to be the usher’s son. Ouch! Though I personally apologized to the man for giving offense, it seems he never got over it.”

Now, which one – the pastor or the assistant pastor – is lying?  It turns out, they both are.  One of them, of course, must be lying, because their accounts of the “bell-ringing” incident contradict each other – and two contradictory versions can’t both be right. But it’s fairly obvious that it is the assistant pastor who is lying -- not just because of what the pastor said, but because there are dozens of eyewitnesses who can corroborate what he said.  And it turns out that he lies on two other scores as well: first, his insinuation that the reason the usher didn’t ring the bell was because he “took offense” at what he (the assistant pastor) had said about his son some years back; and second, his claim that he “personally apologized to the man [the usher] for giving offense.” 

In addressing that first lie, we must first note that it was the usher’s job to ring the bell: he did it all the time.  Secondly, it must also be noted that what the assistant pastor said about the usher’s son happened years ago, and that the usher had long since “forgiven and forgotten” it.  So then, why would the usher – who had rung the bell many, many times since without taking offense, suddenly “take offense” this time?   And why would he suddenly recollect something that happened years ago and use it as an excuse not to ring a bell?  Lastly, why would the assistant pastor make such a caustic remark anyway, after the pastor’s seemingly innocuous account of what happened (which, again, was corroborated by dozens of witnesses)?  Did he not notice what his boss had said earlier?

Regarding the second lie (about “apologizing”), it was one of those classic “half-truths”: he did apologize – however, not for what he said about the son, but only for not knowing that he was the usher’s son.  [Actually, it is quite unbelievable that he didn’t know he was the usher’s son, because the son’s and the father’s names are identical – except one is “Junior” and the other is “Senior.”]  At best, lie No. 2 was, as we said, a “half-truth”; but the fact that he made it seem to be an apology for his remarks about the son makes it, in fact, a lie.  This lie shows duplicity; but the first lie – the charge that the usher “took offense” – takes real stupidity.  The insinuation is absolutely absurd.

But we also mentioned that the pastor lied too.  So, when did he lie, and how?  It has to do with our bold-faced emphasis put on “doctrinal issues” earlier: the pastor’s quote was referring to an earlier assertion of his that the usher had left the church congregation for “doctrinal” reasons.  There are two “problems” here: first, at the time of that “assertion,” the usher had given no reasons whatsoever for leaving.  In a short note to the pastor that day, he simply stated that he was leaving, and that he would give his reasons later.  And when he did give those reasons, they were not doctrinal, but had to do with scandalous behavior going on at both the church and its school -- reasons which also caused half the parish to leave as well.

The pastor’s comment about “doctrinal reasons” was, then, a pure fabrication (because, to repeat, no reasons were as yet given) – but it did serve as an “explanation” for the parishioners (who obviously noticed the usher’s absence) as to why he left.  More importantly, the use of the word “doctrinal” implied that the usher had “issues” with the pastor’s doctrinal beliefs – which also implies that either he or the pastor is a heretic (and the pastor knew only too well whose "side" the parishioners were going to take).  The word “doctrinal” was, then, not an innocuous “slip of the tongue,” but a judiciously chosen statement to create a particular impression.

What it also did was to “grease the skids” for further character assassination of the usher – which, of course, was done.  It also explains what the assistant pastor later wrote about the usher “taking offense,” and why: he needed to put the usher in a negative light -- and this was one way to do it.  The assistant pastor, too, might have been hoping that this reason for “not ringing a bell” might – in the minds of the parishioners – “morph” into being a reason for the usher’s leaving as well.  Along with the pastor’s “doctrinal reasons” comment, it was a cockle seed planted to create a particular impression.

But might one dismiss these lies of the pastor and his assistant as some sort of uncharacteristic “anomaly”?  After all, to some people, they might not seem to be real “biggies.”  But if one analyzes them, they are.  (Plus, one must consider that if they’re going to lie about things of a seemingly “trivial” nature, what are they going to do when it comes to “the serious stuff”?)  First, they were lies, and provable ones at that.  Secondly, they were lies meant to deceive the parishioners about the usher – both about his reasons for leaving, and about his alleged reason for “taking offense.”  Thirdly, they were obviously an attempt to slander him (as, indeed, were subsequent remarks in that vein).  But, on close examination, they were also a manifestation of the clerics’ stupidity (especially the assistant’s -- for coming up with such an easily refuted and absurd reason for “not ringing a bell”).

So, in your Travelers’ Tribunal deliberations, you must decide on the evidence before you, and on what charge(s) you should bring: Mendacity?  Duplicity?  Calumny?  Stupidity?  You might also wonder about whether that last charge -- Stupidity -- is actually a charge, or instead a “loophole” for pleading the Insanity Defense.  As for our evidence in this case, we must concede that the charge about the pastor citing “doctrinal reasons” is excerpted from his words in a church bulletin that may no longer be extant (church bulletins are usually not archived -- and we didn’t make a copy).  But the assistant’s charge is still in print.**  It is not only proof of his guilt, but evidence of his mental impairment as well -- for none but a moron would concoct such a story (we wonder, in fact, that he has let it remain in print).

In your deliberations, bear in mind also that the two clerics might not necessarily merit the same punishment.  The assistant, for instance, stands the best chance of pleading the insanity defense.  His punishment might consist of 1) being consigned to an asylum, or 2) being confined to the corner of some school room, and being made to wear a tall, cone-shaped object on his head.  The pastor, however, might find himself the object of more severe treatment, because -- when his followers finally “figure things out,” he might just find himself the object of … a lynch mob.

**The following is the passage -- excerpted from a newsletter (click here to see full document) written by the assistant pastor -- that gives his “reason” for the bell not being rung.  (Actually, it really doesn’t give a reason; it merely states that the usher “took offense.”  The rest of the passage implies that the assistant pastor’s comments about the usher’s son had something to do with the usher’s “taking offense”; but, here again, why would a years old incident suddenly pop into someone’s head and magically become a “reason” for not ringing a bell – especially when the pastor and dozens of eyewitnesses could attest otherwise?  Again, we re-emphasize, only a MORON would concoct such a story.)  Here is the excerpt:

One of your former ushers got involved. If all this stuff isn’t true, why would he say what he said?
I had inadvertently gored his ox in 2005, when I wrote an article criticizing a pompous doctor who presumed to pronounce on matters of moral theology. It turned out to be the usher’s son. Ouch! Though I personally apologized to the man for giving offense, it seems he never got over it.
When on Palm Sunday 2009 our school principal (also the head usher) tried to get the usher to ring the bell at the proper time during the procession, said usher took offense. Later in the week, he wrote to tell us he was leaving the parish.