CSotD: A Reason to Believe

I’ve held this Joe Heller cartoon too long, since it obviously ran on Ash Wednesday, nearly a week ago, but I hadn’t forgotten it and there’s a reason for that.

There’ve always been jokes about giving things up for Lent. One of my favorite Mr. Dooleys is about his father trying to give up smoking for Lent, and that was in a 1899 collection of his best.

And, sure enough, there were jokes on the topic scattered across the funny pages last week.

But here’s the difference: Nobody really believes in Lent anymore, or, at least, there’s very few who believe in a season of penitence.

Even in Heller’s cartoon, the little boy’s spirit is more in giving the money saved to the homeless than in not eating the candy himself, though that is included.

Part of Vatican II reforms, along with guitar Masses, was the idea of doing something positive for Lent instead of giving something up.

But there was a time, O Best Beloved, when being Catholic involved a sort of penitence that was more a matter of self-discipline than of sacrifice.

That is, Pope Paul VI reportedly wore a hair shirt, and this article says the more ascetic monks and nuns still do, but you didn’t have to be Simeon Stylites to get into heaven.

The average Catholic was content to abstain from meat on Fridays, to attend Mass each Sunday, to fast before Communion and, yes, to give up something for Lent.

When the Church speaks of “mortification,” it’s not a matter of being embarrassed or ashamed but, rather, of rejecting pride, always with the dilemma that you are apt to become proud of your humility.

Like wearing a yarmulke or a hijab, it was a constant reminder of community and faith.

There were many not-so-good things about the old Church, including the pressure to pretend you believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast, but I miss that sense of community.

I’d also suggest that jokes about giving things up for Lent fall flat when they no longer reflect the sort of black humor in that story of Mr. Dooley’s father.

Gallows-humor stories of sadistic grade school nuns provoke both laughter and fury, and it’s even possible to joke about pederast priests as a release from anger and horrified disillusion.

Heller’s cartoon works because it’s not intended to be funny.

And without that intense involvement, without that level of belief, jokes about giving things up for Lent are as flat as gags about Groundhog Day.


Though speaking of rodents and misplaced faith …

Every time I think I’ll never run another surgical mask joke, one comes along that I can’t resist.

Michael de Adder strikes with a triple myth:

  1. Lemmings don’t mob up and jump off cliffs.
  2. Those surgical masks won’t help you avoid the coronavirus.
  3. The stock market is ruled as much by groupthink as by logic.

To which I would add that we can make jokes about our retirement nest eggs because of our underlying fear of destitution.

We were talking about retirement at the dog park the other day, a good number of those who gather in the afternoon being in the retirement demographic.

And watching the dogs play is better than watching daytime TV and having Joan London prattle on about “A Place for Mom.”

It’s all well and good that some people can afford those chi-chi country-club-style assisted-living places with swimming pools and yoga, but most of us are happy just to be able to buy groceries and occasionally go visit the grandkids.

I was reminded of a meeting I covered where school board members and local officials talked about either rehabbing or replacing a badly out-of-date school building.

The board members tossed out a figure that would only mean a small increase in property taxes, but the local pols made the point that old women living on their late husbands’ survivor benefits took an $80-a-month tax increase pretty seriously.

Well, the Dow began to recover yesterday and, while indeed I did tell you so, I am also right that jokes about 401k’s are only funny if you’re lucky enough to have one.

And smart enough to leave it the hell alone.


Speaking of belief

Clay Jones notes the way the Cult of Personality has decided they hate commies when libtards like them, but are content to let Dear Leader smooch the most hardline communist dictatorship in the world.

Which is true and scary, but, then again, not the only current example of belief overwhelming logic.

I’ve been hearing that moderates can’t win and that, if they could, Hillary Clinton would be president.

That’s a theory I’ll believe when I see the Venn diagram of people who believe that but who also believe that she was robbed by the Electoral College.

Meanwhile, I’ll concede that Obama was a risk that paid off, though less for his policy proposals than his color and his personal charisma. Pete had some of that, but evidently not enough.

But the anti-moderates also claim that Bill Clinton won as a progressive rather than a moderate.

Well, I voted for him to restore common sense, not overturn the system.

I didn’t think he was radically different. I mostly thought he wasn’t George HW Bush, who was running on the “Reagan Lite” ticket.

Clinton’s youth and charisma were bonuses, sure, but I’d have voted for Wilfred Brimley that year.


Arlo’s got the right idea. Election night in newsrooms is pizza night, with everyone scrambling to get results and write them up and push them out.

But for those of us outside the storm, it’s enough to vote and then sit back and watch the game, which is to say, we can still have the pizza and we don’t have to work the phones.

And, as with Super Bowl Sunday, it’s entirely likely that our favorite team is no longer playing, but wotthehell, it’s still a game.


Besides, as Matt Davies points out, nobody remembers who the geniuses predicted would be hoisting that trophy when it was over.

Mock 2024 drafts begin November 4.

We’ll be ready!



8 thoughts on “CSotD: A Reason to Believe

  1. Old joke, that we non-Catholic schoolboys probably had no business repeating:

    Newlywed husband: Oh no, dear, I can’t tonight. It’s Lent.

    Bride: What!? To whom and for how long?

  2. I had to add this comment, so I would not have to look at:

    “Currently there are 1 Comment”.

    When I was a programmer, that always irritated me that the person who wrote the code was too darn lazy to check for the case of one item and insert “There is one” whatever.

  3. Where does one go to buy a hair shirt? I checked on Amazon and only found novelty T-shirts.

  4. Wow! A Catholic joke I haven’t heard. Thank you!

    Next task: come up with a Jewish joke I haven’t heard.

    And finally, come up with a Quaker joke. I think I’ve heard both of them.

  5. Maybe I could repurpose an “Ole and Lena” joke to make it nominally Jewish for Fred King? Let’s see —

    Sid and Rachel were sweethearts back in the (pogram-infested) old country, and hoped to move to America, but had saved only enough money for one to do so. Sid, being a mensch, said Rachel should go already, and he would follow when he had made a bit more.

    Two years later, he received a windfall and decided to surprise his sweetie by showing up without telling her first. But she had just moved from one boarding house to another, and he had misplaced the new address, so he asked a resident at the old one if he knew where he could find his Rachel.

    “Rachel? Why, EVERYBODY knows where to find Rachel! She’s slept with every man in town.”

    Sid was broken-hearted, and went out into the street to sit on the curb and cry. But slowly he recovered his better nature, and returned to the informant and pridefully replied:

    “HA! You think maybe this a big town? In the old country, we have big towns! This — THIS ISN’T SUCH A BIG TOWN!”

  6. Father Nolan sees Sean in the market and says, “You look down. Is there something I can help you with?”

    “No, Father, it’s nothin’ the church can fix.”

    “Well, there’s nothing the Lord can’t help with. What is it?”

    “I’ve been losing money at the track and the wife is furious with me. I just can’t seem to pick a horse.”

    “Well, now, Sean, that’s easy. You take the racing form in one hand and your pencil in the other, then close your eyes, circle your hand around and say ‘Lord guide my hand,’ then down on the form and there’s your horse.”

    “I’ve tried that. Devil a bit of good it was.”

    “And you’re lit candles?”

    “Candles? Does that work?”

    “Of course it does! Just stop by the church on your way to the track and light a candle for each race you’re going to bet. It can’t fail.”

    Two weeks goes by, and Father Nolan sees him again. “Now, better times, eh, Sean?”

    “No, Father. The candles didn’t help at all.”

    “Well, that’s strange. They’ve never been known to fail. You must be doing something wrong.”

    “I dunno. I went to the church, I knelt in front of the Virgin …”

    “Ah, no, Sean! You’ve got to go over to the Joseph altar with the big candles! Them little ones is for the dogs!”

  7. A Rabbi and a Priest are sitting next to each other on a cross country flight. Both being religious men, they getting talking.

    At one point the Priest says asks the Rabbi, “Rabbi, do you keep kosher?”

    And the Rabbi replies, “Yes, I do”.

    The Priest then asks, ” Some of those foods are enjoyed by millions of people. Have you ever wondered what they taste like?”

    To which the Rabbi replies, “Well…..as a younger man in school I did eat a piece of ham.”

    The Rabbi the continues and says, “But Father, as a priest you have taken a vow of celibacy. Have you ever been with a woman?”

    The Priest replies, “While I have suffered the temptations of th flesh, I can proudly say that I have always maintained my vows and have never been with a woman”

    The Rabbi leans over and says, “I’ll tell you, its better than ham”

  8. As usual nice cartoons and comic strips. It is a hood read. Unfortunately I don’t have any such stories or funny jokes to share. The lent stories have always been doing the round. It is funny to read them all. Making myself eligible to be in comments reading association lol.

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