Category Archives: Humor

It’s Just a Joke!

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So, on my Facebook news feed I saw an article about some woman named Brandi something or another who is some real housewife of something that I don’t care about, and even though I’m going to write about it now I don’t even care enough to find out her name or why she’s in any way famous.

Anyway, this woman took an Instagram photo of herself squatting over the baby Jesus in a Nativity scene, simulating (I guess) giving birth.   She had some caption on the pic along the lines of “Remember the reason for the season.”

The whole thing is stupid and childish, and offensive.   But whatever – it’s a free country, and I feel dumber for even knowing about this woman.

The more interesting side of the article to me was that she received really negative feedback about the picture even from people who claimed to be fans, and people who claimed that they were neither Christian nor religious.

Apparently she’s an atheist, but her initial response was along the lines of “It’s a joke people.   Get a sense of humor.”    I think her version included an f-bomb, because as we all know f-bombs make your argument better and clearer.

I mulled this over a bit, for some reason that even I don’t understand.   I am a Christian and the picture offended me.   I also realized that I don’t really care what she thinks all that much and the picture reflects on her quite poorly.    I don’t even know who she is and I don’t care enough to find out.   I actually just pity her and hope she finds her way.   It should be noted that she did eventually take the picture down.   I guess she didn’t apologize, which was fine because most of those apologies are insincere anyway, and are usually along the lines of “I’m sorry all you stupid people who can’t take a joke are offended.”    Simply taking the pic down is probably more honest.   She probably realizes it’s not worth the hassle, she alienated some fans, so it’s time to move on.   She’s really not sorry for it, so why say otherwise?

But what held my inner attention the longest was this idea that whenever people mock other people in a degrading way, they rely on the “it’s just a joke” defense.    It’s worth considering what that means.   We have probably all walked the line between harmless joke and potentially offensive joke at one time or another.   I can remember getting into an argument with some woman who is blond who said “Blond jokes are never funny, ever.”    I disagreed.   And I still do.   Some are funny.    But some are mean.    And I think what happened there is she had personal experiences from utterly mean individuals who mercilessly teased her about her blondness and beyond.    While it is probably true that good people will disagree on exactly where that line between “have a little sense of humor, don’t be so politically correct, and don’t get offended by everything” and “that is offensive and inappropriate” I do think that reasonable and good people can agree that there exists such a line, and we should do our best to not cross it.

Some take the attitude that we should never even go there.   We should, at all costs, avoid any potential offense.   I personally believe this is entirely wrong and problematic.   I understand the reasoning and I think the intentions are good.   But it’s part of what ails our country.   We’ve reached a point where we can’t say anything offensive at all about anybody on anything, and the judge of what constitutes offense is the progressive left.    In their view, religion itself is offensive.   The bible is offensive.   And so on.    We are a much healthier society if we learn to live with a little stereotypical humor about ourselves.   And yes, even if it crosses a line, we should be willing to brush it off and move on with our lives.    Better to err on that side of the equation than to try and muzzle all potentially offensive words universally.

Some take the attitude that everything is “just a joke.”    That’s a cop-out, and it’s not true.    The real question one should ask is whether or not engaging in stereotypical humor serves as its main purpose a good and funny joke, or whether the main intent is to demean and mock.    This really isn’t a difficult question.    When an atheist squats over the baby Jesus in a Nativity Scene only an idiot doesn’t see that as a statement that says “I’m mocking the Virgin Birth and what Christians believe.”    If you tell the joke about the kid praying for a bicycle for Christmas by telling Jesus “If you ever want to see your mother again…” while putting a Mary statue in a drawer, then that is funny.    Could that be taken offensively by some?   Sure, I suppose.   Should we really be joking about holding Mary hostage?     Well, the joke is more about what the mind of an innocent kid who desperately wants a bike for Christmas is like.   It’s funny.   The other is a crass mockery.   In the one case, most Christians will either be outright offended or not find it funny at all, and even non-Christians find it tasteless.   In the other case, many Christians will see the humor.

Here’s a hint:   if you hate Christians or consider them stupid, then there is a high degree of probability that your “joke” is not “just a joke” but is demeaning and offensive.  I’m not saying that is universally true, but you probably should be more careful about whether or not that is the case.   And if you get that kind of reaction, then the blindness is yours, not others.    I’m not saying that Christians can’t cross that same line – they can.   They are just less likely to.

The same is true whether we’re talking about Christians, Jews, Muslims, Blacks, Whites, Women, Men, Blondes, or Eskimos.    If you have a hatred or distaste for any group of people and you are “just making a joke” then are probably at higher risk of crossing a line.    Just accept it, and maybe do something about that by looking inward.

But let’s not get crazy.   Jokes are good.   Not taking yourself too seriously is good.    I mean, if you’re blonde and can’t find the humor in ANY blonde joke, then I think you are doing yourself a disservice.   Or, perhaps, more accurately the fault lies on others who killed your sense of humor on the subject.   And I am sorry if that is the case.   But try to move on.

I still have a copy of a bulletin from the Wisconsin Department of State, bulletin 91-92 issued January 1, 1992.   Subject: Automobile Dimmer Switches.  (I’ll skip over a lot of it, so it will lose a bit of the feel of authenticity)

  • Pursuant to the WI Dept of Motor Vehicles Act… All motor vehicles… will be required to have the headlight switch mounted on the floorboard. The dimmer switch must be mounted in a position accessible to operation by pressing the switch with the left foot.  The switch must be far enough from the left foot pedal to avoid inadvertent operation or pedal confusion.
  • …all other vehicles with steering column mounted dimmer switches must be retrofitted… Vehicles which have not made this change will fail … safety inspection…
  • …This change is being made in the interest of public safety… A recent study … has shown that 95% of all Wisconsin nighttime highway accidents are caused by a blonde getting her foot caught in the steering wheel while attempting to dim the headlights.

Come on…   that’s funny!

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Responding to Actors Speaking Politics

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This has nothing to do with Catholic anything.   I just thought this was not only hilarious, but pretty much says it all as far as my opinion on all those holier-than-thou entertainers who decide they need to help inform us unthinking underlings on politics.   Or, really, anything.

It’s worth the view, even if you’re not a Trump fan.   (Which, to be honest, I’m getting sick of people saying as an obligatory addendum to nearly everything.)

A Little Humor

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My blog is called “Catholic Diatribes.”   That doesn’t mean I can’t engage in some random humor.   Right?

 

It seems so obvious now:

Find X

I really wish I had thought of this one:

Expand

Had I been the teacher, ingenuity deserves some partial credit:

Elephant

Please, please, please tell me that this was her final answer:

Millionaire

Revisiting the Wood Tick Story

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When you embrace the idea of being a parent of a large family, you just accept that there will be plenty of stories to tell when it’s all over with.   Not all of these stories reflect well on you, but that’s usually what makes them funny.

This post was originally posted by me on a previous blog, but we are in the midst of tick season right now, and as a public service it is worth revisiting.   Don’t try this at home…

I am about to write a post that proves that a pair of college graduates – one of whom took his share of Chemistry, Physics, and other courses on the way to becoming an actuary – can do something so stupid that any reasonable person would ask “What were you thinking?” Believe me, if someone else had done it, I would be calling the other person an idiot. And therefore, for consistency’s sake, let me be the first to say to myself, “You are an idiot.”

With that out of the way, allow me to tell the true story of last Sunday evening. We had all had a long couple of days. Prayer time was finished and it was time for the tykes to get into bed. And then, the fateful words were uttered: “Alex has a wood tick in his head!”

Well, I have lived with ticks all my life, and it was not time to panic now. And so, my wife and I casually observed said wood tick. Sure enough, there it was, sucking the blood out of my eldest son’s head. Deep down, I was hoping it would suck out some of the thoughts that enter the kid’s brain from time to time, but I knew that was fantasy. I had to take care of the immediate problem at hand.

Well, my wife is generally proficient with the tweezers. Be it a sliver or a tick, when the tweezers come out, the kids scatter. But in the end, they are unable to escape the fate that belies them, and after a few screams along the lines of “You’re killing me!” my wife triumphantly raises the tweezers with the enemy foreign object, and screams her battle cry, “Oh, it wasn’t that bad!”

But this night would be different. The tick was in deep, and it had strategically burrowed itself in amongst numerous hair follicles. I believe the tick knew that this would cause immense pain to its victim when the victim’s mother would accidentally latch onto the surrounding follicles while trying to pull it out. In any case, the tweezers on this night were not doing the job.

It was time to explore the old wives tales.

My wife’s first suggestion was to light a match and hold it up to the tick. Apparently, the theory is that the tick is smart enough to feel the heat and try to escape by backing out. Now, we’re talking about an animal that burrows a hole into other living things, sucks blood until it’s so big it has to let go, and once it falls off it can’t move anywhere and lays around until it’s either crushed or eaten. Survival instinct just doesn’t appear to be high on the priority list.

I balked at the match idea, considering the fact that I would be holding a lit match near the head of my six year old son, who would most likely be diagnosed with ADHD if we ever concerned ourself with actually getting him looked at.

Instead, I moved onto the next brilliant wives tale. If you hold a bottle of alcohol over the tick, it will back out. I’ve been told it’s because it can’t breathe and the alcohol bothers them. Well, the first mistake was thinking that this kid would actually sit there and let me hold the bottle tight enough so it wouldn’t leak all over the place. After two minutes of hearing “You’re hurting me!” with a lot of corollary movement and rubbing alcohol having been sent flying everywhere, it was decided that this technique probably wouldn’t work anyway, but certainly wouldn’t work in our case.

Crying and doused in alchol, with wood-tick still engorged, the son is losing faith in his parents’ tick-fighting prowess.

All of our kids are witnessing this activity, save the four year old who fell asleep during prayer time, like he always does.

Now, here’s where the story gets ridiculous. And you will see it coming, and you’ll think, “Um… DUH!” or some variant thereof. As embarrassing as it is, I must go on.

My wife, frustrated at the stupidity in thinking this whole rubbing alcohol approach had any chance of working, and mad at herself for allowing me to talk her into the idea, says to me, “This is not working at all. Let’s try the match thing.” As a loving husband who wishes to please my wife, and desires to see my son tick-free, I eschew all sense of reason and all knowledge of all things science, and how one thing reacts with another, and I answer “Alright. Give me a match.”

Now, there was probably 10 seconds or so from the time I declared those words to the time that the lit match was approaching the tick. That should be enough time for someone who took two semesters of Organic Chemistry to remember that rubbing alcohol and fire are a great combination if you want to set your house on fire. They are not so great a combination if your desire is to not set your child on fire.

Unfortunately, all we could think of was getting that tick out. It blocked all other thoughts that were attempting to leap from synapse to synapse in a frenzy, attempting to pull back my hand and say “You fool! Don’t do this!” But they were too late. The match approached the tick. And then…

Poof! The entire back of my son’s head was in flames. Now, let me be clear here… within two seconds we had that flame out and it all happened so quick that there were no burns. But man, he freaked out – and rightly so. Screaming at the top of his lungs, he dove to the ground. The other kids also freaked. I lost track of my two daughters until they came charging towards Alex and doused him with water, which only freaked him out more. We yelled “What are you doing?” and they’re all like “He was on fire!”

Meanwhile, the tick was still enjoying its meal.

In the end, I called a nurse’s line, and explained about the tick and asked how best to get it out. I, um, forgot to relay the part about dousing my kid with rubbing alcohol and setting him on fire. Oops.

Anyway, she basically said you can forget about all these old wives tales. Just pull the thing out and hope for the best. Well, we did, and the head stayed behind. So, now we keep an eye on it and if we are unable to dig it out after the swelling goes down a bit, we’ll have to take him in and get it removed so it doesn’t get infected. [Edit: we never had to do that] It’s possible it will work out on its own, but we’ve heard that they often don’t. Yay. Unfortunately, we were unable to get it out without squeezing the body of it, which means some blood probably squirted into the wound. Now we have to watch for any indication of Lyme’s disease, as well, and get him treated if symptoms occur. [Edit:  Thankfully, no Lyme’s – though another child would contract it later on]

So let this be a lesson to you all. Not that you needed it, but never underestimate the stupid things you can do if the situation is just right. I’m still whacking myself in the head and asking how I could possibly have done such a stupid thing.

I guess it’s clear… I’m an idiot.

[Note: I now highly recommend a simple little device called a “Tick Twister.”   It works wonderfully, and has kept our children blaze-free for almost 9 years now.]

Confession Stories

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Note:  Have you ever written a really long post and then hit Publish after all your hard work, to then be taken to the log-in page?   Do you know what that means?   It means that, for some reason, WordPress logged you out while you were typing, but for some reason let you keep typing.   It also apparently means that your drafts no longer save, but it doesn’t tell you that they didn’t save.   It also means that whatever you typed after you were logged out is kind of like your confessed sins:  they are gone and forgotten and never to be seen or heard from again.   Which is a good thing if you’re talking about sins, but it is not a good thing when you are talking about a half-hour’s worth of thoughts and words.   It also means that I may need to go to confession because I was none too happy when I realized what had happened…  

I consoled myself by thinking the Devil doesn’t want me to make this post, as if I am about to start an unstoppable reversion back to the Confessional.   In reality, it’s more likely that WordPress has an unfortunate bug and I am victim to it.   But never underestimate the battlefields used in Spiritual Warfare!

Anyway, here we go again…

Confession stories.  Everyone has them. Well, OK, if you’re Catholic then you do. Well, I mean, if you’re a Catholic who actually goes to confession you do.

I recently read a blog post at 8 kids and a business that was a nice, reflective post that covered a lot of good ground on the serious stuff.

But I always like to hear good confession stories on the lighter side. Anyone willing to share?

I’ll throw out a couple…

First, my spiritually uplifting story:

I went to confession after a very long absence – 15 years or so.   I never lost my belief in God and I never stopped knowing that there was something important about the Catholic faith.   But like many others in the Catholic faith, I had rationalized away the need to go to confession.   After all, what would it say about Uncle Richard who was Protestant if I thought you needed to go to confession to be forgiven?   Why isn’t it good enough that you just take your sins to God directly?   We all know the drill.   I don’t think I came up with any new arguments of any intellectual magnitude.  I just fell into the convenient ones.

In the meantime, it is very easy looking back at it to see where this led me.   Once you rationalize one thing you rationalize the next thing.   Pretty soon, it isn’t necessary to go to Mass every Sunday and contraception is no big deal.   God ultimately led me to a point in my life where I realized that I need to go to confession.   This only occurred after some intellectual honesty with myself.   I finally realized that God expects much more out of those to whom certain gifts are given.   I can not compare myself to Uncle Richard because I was given the gift of the Sacraments in my Catholic faith, whereas Uncle Richard did not have that same understanding.   How many times do we tell certain children “you know better” because it has been explained to them, while other children simply don’t know better?   We discipline those children differently because of our expectations of their actions given their level of understanding.

I further realized that the Church has a wisdom about it with respect to the Sacraments that takes uncertainty out of matters.   For example, will God allow people into heaven that have not been baptized for one reason or another?   We can reflect on that and decide that we think it makes perfect sense that He would.   On the other hand, if you are baptized, we believe in the adoption that comes with that and the certainty of having fulfilled the requirement that Jesus placed before us.   Likewise, I can certainly believe that God can and does forgive people who are sorry for their sins who don’t go to confession.   But at what level of certainty do we have that a particular confession we made worked?   I mean, we think that God will forgive us, and after all He is benevolent.   But most people won’t hear God actually whisper in their ear and say, “Oh, yes, my friend.  You are forgiven.  Go and sin no more.”  So, you’re kind of left wondering if you were sorry enough.   Maybe you should confess again?   But no…   you have to trust that God did it, and it’s a sin to not accept His forgiveness.   Except that you have no proof of actual forgiveness…   Agh!   Being a practical guy, I finally realized that I can go to confession and get absolution and hear the words “Your sins are forgiven” (and yes, non-Catholics, we know the Priest says it but we believe he is there in the very person of Christ, and it is Christ that is forgiving our sins, not a man.   But Christ acts and speaks through him so that we can hear those words of assurance) and be done with all the guessing.   It’s actually quite extraordinarily easy, when you think of it.

“I’m going to go to confession, and do a bloodletting…”   Um, no.   No bloodletting needed.

“I’m going to confession, at which point I will be kicked in the head and smacked with a wet carp.”   No…   no physical abuse necessary.

“I’m going to confession, but will only be granted forgiveness after running 5 miles and doing 1000 push-ups.”   While perhaps of physical benefit, no exercise involved.

“I’m going to confession, where I will tell a Priest my sins, be contrite about it, and then God will wash me clean and forget about those sins as if they never happened.”    Get outta here!   That’s it?!

As embarrassing as it might be to have to verbally tell somebody how bad you’ve been and how much you’ve sinned for all sorts of silly and unnecessary reasons, the actual thing you need to do for what you get is somewhat unbelievable if we didn’t, in fact, believe it.   It’s mighty good stuff.

And so, I finally realized all this.   My testimony is that I went and had the closest thing to what those evangelicals describe as a “born again” experience.   Except that I was born again in baptism, so what actually happened is that I had mucked myself up with all sorts of spiritual grease and grime and dirt and was scrubbed mightily clean.   A huge weight fell off me upon absolution and I almost physically felt the Holy Spirit rush back in.   It was amazing.    I admit that I long for that same emotional rush from time to time when I go to confession, but since then the experience has been mostly ordinary (if one is ever to consider having your sins forgiven simply for confessing them ordinary).   And that’s OK, because we don’t judge Sacramental validity by the emotional pulse of the experience.  

For all those who feel, for whatever reason, you don’t need to go to confession…   just stop it.   Just go.   Seriously.  In the end, there is no good excuse for not going.   There just isn’t.   It’s all well and good to trust God, but what is God to think of us when we purposely decide that the avenue He placed before us and is readily available to us for forgiveness is deemed unnecessary?   Perhaps you’ve got an answer for Him on that one, but I don’t.   And what  Uncle Richard is doing is irrelevant.   And I haven’t even talked about the gift of grace you receive from the Sacrament.   Even if you think you’ve got the answers on the other points, we Catholics truly believe in an actual grace received from the Sacraments that is life-giving and unique.     Just.       Do.       It.

As for some more light-hearted anecdotes, I have a couple.

First, there was the time I visited a parish of which I am not a member, and never attend.   This was during the phase where I felt like going “face to face” was somehow more redemptive, because it was like I was hammering my pride even more to put my face with my sins.   I finally realized that this was a silly notion, and that the Sacrament wasn’t any more valid whether the Priest saw my overly chubby face than if he didn’t.   So now I mostly kneel behind the screen. But I digress…

Anyway, I sat down, and the Priest declared “And you’re wondering to yourself, ‘Who is this guy?'”   I was a bit taken aback, since nothing of the sort crossed my mind, I was not a parishioner, and I was just there for confession.   As long as there was a Priest there, I was cool.   After mumbling something about not being a Parishioner, the confession started.   I kid you not, it went as follows [actual sins are Xd out, because they are forgotten by God and none of your cotton-picking business 😉 ]

Me: On one occasion I did XXXXXXX

Priest: Oh, well…   that isn’t a big deal.

Me:  Um, OK.  I still feel like I need to confess it.

Priest: Sure, that’s fine.   Is there anything else?

Me: On two occasions I XXXXXXXXX

Priest:  Maybe I’m just too liberal on some of these things, but I don’t see anything wrong with that!

By the time it was all done, I felt pretty darn good about myself.

Well, he did give me absolution, so I assume the Sacrament was valid.   But part of me wanted to go somewhere and confess again just to validate my suspicions that I had, in fact, sinned.

Then, there was the time I was at a Catholic conference where they had speakers and they offered confessions all day long.   I went in and knelt behind the screen and waited.   I knew a Priest was there, because his foot was sticking out from behind the screen, propped up on a chair.   No sign of the cross…   Was I confused?   Was I supposed to start?   “Bless me Father, for I have sinned…”    But that didn’t seem right.   Nothing.   Then I realized that he was, ever so lightly, snoring.   Apparently there had not been a lot of confessing going on recently.

After a sharp cough on my part, I heard the shufflings of a living Priest, which is always a desirable attribute, and the confession was able to commence.

A co-worker who is older recounts a story from his youth.  He went to Catholic school and went to confession on a Friday.   His mother went into confession on Saturday and despite his protests, forced him to go again.   When it was his turn, it went as follows: “Bless me Father, for I have sinned.   My last confession was…  um, yesterday.”   “Tom!  Is that you?   What are you doing here?”   “My mom made me come.”   “Get outta here!”

I’ll conclude with a joke, just because I think it’s funny.   Imagine a couple older, Polish/Scandinavian guys talking in a Northeast Wisconsin accent, dontcha know, hey.

Stash: Bless me Father for I have sinned.

Priest: Go on.

Stash:  I stole some lumber.

Priest: Oh, Stash.  That is not good.   Stealing is against one of the commandments, dontcha know.  What did you do with it?

Stash: I built a birdhouse.

Priest: Well, this could be worse, but it is still stealing.   Don’t do it again, and you will need to make 3 Our Fathers for this sin, eh?

Stash: Ya, Father.  But there’s something else.

Priest:  yes?

Stash: I took more lumber than that, and built a garage.

Priest: What?!  Stash, this is a much bigger deal.  What kind of garage?

Stash: My car fits in it all nice-like, ya know.

Priest: Stash, you must pay for the lumber, OK?   And now you must make a Rosary as well for this sin.  Do you understand?

Stash:  Ya, Father.   But…   um…

Priest: Oh dear…

Stash: I kinda had some lumber left over and built one more thing.

Priest:  Which was?

Stash:  I kinda attached a house to my garage.  Not a real big one.  

Priest:  Not a real big one!?   It’s a house, Stash!   This is very serious.   You must pay for the lumber!   Now, let me ask you, do you know how to make a Novena?

Stash: I never heard of one of them, Father.   But if you got the blueprints, I got the lumber!

God bless.

The Coming of the Obamessiah – Link to Blog

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Originally posted on http://digitaldiatribes.wordpress.com on June 11, 2008.

Just for kicks, I’m linking to Mark Shea’s blog on the coming Obamessiah.

To give a quick taste of this clearly tongue-in-cheek post:

And it came to pass that Obama called his delegates to himself. And going up on an exceeding high mountain, he opened his mouth and spake, saying:

I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.

The Obamessiah bringing peace, joy, roses and unicorns to the faithfulNow, what I find funny about this is that I heard Obama say that last week and thought “You gotta be kidding me. How full of himself is he?” Looks like I’m not the only one to pick up on it.

Vote for Obama, and the oceans shall heal thyselves.

Um… sure.

A while ago, I alluded to this whole phenomenon of the Obamessiah. Pretty weird stuff, if you ask me. But, whatever your stripes, if nothing else, I thought Shea’s piece was funny. I guess if you like Obama, you may not think so.