Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Privilege of Being Catholic

A rather disappointing event took place this evening at choir rehearsal, which I am sad to say will prevent my family and I from going back.

One choir member took it upon himself to relate a joke in which a nun is trying to peek into a bar, wondering what is going on inside. A gentleman offers to take her in and show her around. She chooses a drink, pronouncing it "Martin-eye." The waiter carries this request to the bartender, and the response is "Is that [expletive deleted] nun back in here again?"

Obviously, this was in poor taste. We were all a little put out, but decided to give the joke teller the benefit of the doubt, say a prayer for a change of heart regarding rude jokes making fun of any religious entity (Catholic or otherwise), and move on. However, the director of the choir took it upon himself to remark, "Oh yes. Well, I've spent a great amount of time around Catholics up north, and believe me they know quite well how to pronounce the names of mixed drinks."

This was the director, teaching a college-credit choral ensemble (graduate students have to direct this choir in order to graduate), and he is representing the University. While I'm well aware that not all religious are created equal and that Catholics are always considered 'fair game' for jokes, we felt that for him to encourage the joking was quite wrong. How could we go back next week to sing, as if that sort of comment were acceptable and brought about no repercussions?

So the choir lost a second soprano, the balance soprano, and one of two tenors. Why is it that that 'fair game' attitude exists? It is so terribly wrong that the Church is so constantly put under attack, and those who stand up for her name have no choice but to absent themselves from groups which malign her. Argh. I'm frustrated. I can't write sensibly just yet.


  1. Way to go! I think you did the right thing. It is wrong for people to pick on the Catholic Church just because they see it as an easy target. I'll say an extra prayer for those two people at Mass tomorrow. Keep your chin up hon, not all the world is going to pot. :)

  2. We were already a little out of place to begin with--the entire choir is made up of people who sing on a regular bases in the big (snooty) choirs at the major Protestant churches in town. You know, the ones with all the money?

    It was really not a nice situation. I don't think this was a bury your head in the sand reaction. If it had been just that one member and the director had let it go without the extra comment, everything would have been different. But we had to do something about it. Oh well.

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  4. You had to be there. I'm glad you're made of stronger stuff than me--you'll need it.

  5. You're tellin' me!! If you've gotten my e-mails you know why.

  6. Back at community college, even my "Catholic" creative writing teacher made Catholic jokes in class. When I told her I was offended, she told me she figured she had the right to make fun of her own religion. "Everyone knows it's just a joke" was her excuse.

    That didn't make me half as mad as the fact that, while we were not allowed to say anything racially or orientationally insensitive, we were also not allowed to get out of reading assignments that some of us found highly offensive, not to mention ty.

    Why is it that Catholics can be bashed while no one else can?

  7. Would I be stirring the pot if I said that I missed the part where the Catholic was bashed? I mean, I've certainly heard some Catholic bashing jokes in my life, and they've made me quite angry. But I think I missed the bashing part in this one. True, it's just not a FUNNY joke, and jokes that aren't funny make me angry. But is the bashing part the part which says the nun doesn't know how to pronounce a drink, or the insinuation that the nun would be drinking at all? Neither of which seem to me particularly offensive, since I've known some nuns who wouldn't have a problem with a drink, even in a bar--which I don't have any problem with, though maybe you do--and I've probably known some nuns who wouldn't know how to pronounce the name of a mixed drink, though I confess that I haven't heard them try to say it. Or is it the insinuation the the nun might be deceiving people by pretending ignorance when she actually frequently attends the bar and knows very well what the proper name of the drink is? I suppose perhaps this last is the most accurate, and I suppose I could see the room for offense in that, though it doesn't seem any worse than a lot of bad jokes that are made about Rabbis that I've never found particularly offensive. Or is it the use of the expletive? Anyway, I'm honestly confused.

    I do have to agree with the choir director though. I've travelled in a lot of Catholic circles, and they certainly do know their mixed drinks.

  8. It is actually your very last comment that was the offensive bit, John. The 'laughing matter' was that we all certainly know that Catholics drink, and drink heartily, and drink everything under the sun and that's about the only think they all agree on.

    That was the insinuation made, and that was the part that offended. Besides the fact that it was 'funny' to make a Catholic joke in the first place.