When It Comes to Consumerism…You Just Have to Laugh

From Not Sam with What’s the Haps?

Hysterical. And for the record, I’m an iPhone 4 guy and will not be getting the new version. I will be getting the iPad mini when it comes out more for travel convenience than anything else and because my shoulder is begging me to stop carrying the laptop around.

Fordham Hosts Hilarious Colbert and Dolan and Martin Too

Proud as a peach of my alma mater today after hosting the illustrious Stephen Colbert of the acclaimed Colbert Report and the esteemed Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan for an evening on Catholic Humor, which at times turned serious.

The animation pictured above is awesome and was created by Fordham Senior, Tim Luecke. Awesome job!

First the humor from the NY Times:

Cardinal Dolan introduced Mr. Colbert’s wife, Evelyn, who was sitting in the audience, and brought her up to the stage. The cardinal put his arm around her and gave her a kiss on the cheek, and when Mr. Colbert feigned offense, the cardinal said, in a remark that brought down the house, “I can kiss your wife. You can’t kiss mine.”

Mr. Colbert used his time onstage with the cardinal to air his complaints about the new English translation of the Mass, which was just introduced in American parishes this year.

“Consubstantial!” Mr. Colbert exclaimed, using a particularly cumbersome word that is now recited in the Nicene Creed. “It’s the creed! It’s not the SAT prep.”

The audience sent in questions by Twitter and e-mail, which Father Martin pitched to the two men. Among them: “I am considering the priesthood. Would it be prudent to avoid dating?”

Cardinal Dolan responded that, on the contrary, “it’s good” to date, partly to discern whether the celibate life of a priest is what you want. Then he added, “By the way, let me give you the phone numbers of my nieces.”

Mr. Colbert said: “It’s actually a great pickup line: ‘I’m seriously considering the priesthood. You can change my mind.’ ”

Later the evening turned a bit more serious when a question came forward concerning ….

“So many Christian leaders spread hatred, especially of homosexuals. How can you maintain your joy?”

Cardinal Dolan’s response talked about his ongoing dialogue with Muslims and some thoughts on talking with picketers outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

But the Times noted:

But Mr. Colbert’s response was quick and unequivocal. “If someone spreads hate,” he said, “then they’re not your religious leader.”

The constant live tweeting from Grant Gallicho of Commonweal Magazine gave people a blow by blow account. Some additional tweet highlights:

Q: What’s your favorite beer? (Relief applause.) Dolan: Why don’t u take me out and see? #Dolbert Colbert names Old Style WHICH IS AMAZING.

Agreed on Old Style and I can’t seem to picture Dolan at The Jolly Tinker or The Lantern which have been famous Fordham haunts (I believe the Lantern still exists). I could picture him at Clarke’s, a great old bar which once was right on Fordham Road and then moved to Webster Avenue. But alas, it no longer exists.

Additional Banter:

@StephenAtHome If Jesus doesn’t have a sense of humor I’m in huge trouble.
@CardinalDolan He does. He chose me to be a priest.

@StephenatHome: Do you want to do this evening thing w/ @CardinalDolan? @StephenAtHome said “Hell yes.” Could be next pope. think of all the indulgences…

Fr. Jim Martin, SJ had some comments before the event with the Washington Post including that the event was only a bit less complicated than planning the Second Vatican Council and then when asked what Stephen Colbert is really like, a question Fr. Martin probably hears twice a day, he responded:

JM: He’s very devout, you can tell he knows his stuff. There are real questions he asks under the guise of humor, under the cloak of his character. People don’t realize they’re being invited into thoughtful questions about religion in a humorous way. He does great evangelizing. . . . We were discussing the recession, and whether or not people are more open to experiencing God in times of suffering, and he asked: Why is lack of money equated with an increase of faith? That’s a great question.

So congrats to Fordham, Fr. Jim and Charlie Camosy who was one of the two Fordham theology professors who came up with the idea to feature these two in this kind of forum.

And to Stephen and Cardinal Dolan…keep laughing.

Dolan and Martin and Colbert…OH MY!

From Religion News Service: I just may have to fly down to my alma mater for this one. Fordham University is sponsoring an event on Sept. 14 titled: “The Cardinal and Colbert: Humor, Joy, and the Spiritual Life.”

Now THAT could be an amazing event. Here’s a snip on each “theologian-comedian” as moderator Fr. James Martin, SJ calls them.

Today, Colbert is a married father of three, a churchgoing Catholic who sometimes teaches Sunday school at his New Jersey parish – a far cry from the right-wing blunderbuss he portrays on his popular cable show.

But even his bloviating on-screen persona manages to work Catholic riffs into the program on a regular basis. In one episode after Easter Sunday, Colbert came on looking hungover and confessed to having just ended a “Catholic bender.”

Dolan is certainly no slouch when it comes to faith, and he’s also pretty good in the humor department – especially when he is joking at his own expense, usually about his ample girth.

“As we pass Radio City and pass the Ed Sullivan Theater and pass Times Square, the greatest challenge is to pass the hot dog carts and not stop,” Dolan said after his appointment to New York.

In a similar vein, he once said: “My first pastoral letter’s gonna be a condemnation of light beer and instant mashed potatoes – I hate those two things.”

And to “60 Minutes” there was this one: “They asked me when I got here, ‘Are you Cardinals, Mets, Brewers, or Yankees?’ And I said, ‘When it comes to baseball, I think I can be pro-choice.’ ”

While Cardinal Dolan and Stephen Colbert are the stars here, don’t count out our buddy Fr. Jim who is known to throw a few yuks out himself.

I think this could be a huge event. And if you’re Catholic you should know that if your deadly serious all the time, then you’re probably seriously dead!

Screw Your Roommate

I was going through old notes and pictures and other paraphernalia recently and began to tell some old stories of the college days. This one from my sophomore year is one of my favorites.

We held a dance in each residence hall at Fordham each year called the “Screw Your Roommate Dance” which essentially meant that your roommate was supposed to set you up with someone for the dance. Sort of a “Sadie Hawkins meets the devil” kind of thing. If your roommate liked you you’d probably get set up with someone nice, or possibly even your crush. If he or she hated you…well…you might not get set up at all.

So my roommate at the time was Joe Patane who I wrote about the other day. Joe had this penchant for well…procrastinating. He’d wait until the last minute to try and find me a date. But this year was different. Our resident assistant, a great guy named Steve Breton, knew I had a crush on (of all people) his ex-girlfriend. So he suggested that he call her and ask her if she’d go with me. Maria, the ex of Steve, was someone who I indeed had a crush on after meeting her on a retreat the year before. We were friendly, but she was attached to someone so I couldn’t pursue a relationship. Steve didn’t have the best relationship with her, I mean they did break up for a reason, after all.

But nonetheless, she agreed to go with me and Joe was off the hook. For the first time, Joe had actually done something before the last minute. he was quite proud of himself. He’d throw hints at who I was going with for weeks. “Oh man, you are going to be so happy when you open that door!”

So the night of the dance approached. I had no idea who he could possibly have set me up with. The day before the dance a knock came on my door and it was Steve Breton, the aforementioned R.A. He asked to come in and we sat down. At first, I thought I was in trouble and started making a mental list of dorm violations that I could have participated in. While the list was probably numerous, I couldn’t imagine that Steve knew about any of them.

Steve gingerly approached the topic at hand:

“Well you know how Joe’s been bragging that he got you a great date for the dance, right?”

Mike: “Sure. I have no idea who it is though.”

Steve: “Well, I was in on the set-up.”

Mike: “Oh, ok! Thanks!”

Steve: “Ok I’ll just say it. It’s Maria. But don’t get too excited because she just cancelled. She’s got a midterm and she’s got to get studying for it. She’s freaking out about it and look man, I’m really sorry, but she can’t go with you. We tried. Shit, we did more than try she said ‘sure’ but now…NOW she cancels at the last second. I’m so pissed at her!”

Mike: Well, thanks for trying, anyway. Guess I’m just going stag because I can’t imagine who I could ask at this late juncture! No worries, dude! Not your fault.

To make a long story short, my good friend, Steve DiSalvo (now President of Marian University in Wisconsin), invited me over to his residence hall where he introduced me to Melissa Morrissey, a wonderful young woman who I had helped with her freshman scheduling as a Sophomore mentor earlier in the year. Steve just bluntly asked her to go with me and she agreed. And we had a ball. We were just friends, but we had such a great time, much to the relief of my roommate and R.A.

Months later I went on a Peer Retreat on the weekend of my 20th birthday. Steve DiSalvo had invited me directly and truth be told, I’m a minister in the church today because of that moment. We had all received “palanca” letters on the retreat–a letter of support. The word palanca in spanish means “A lift” and that’s what the letters were supposed to provide.

One of my letters was from my aforementioned R.A., Steve Breton.

“I hear you’re on a retreat. Must be cool. Having drinks out poolside, some fat guy diving off the board. I can see it now.

One of the things I really admire about you, Mike, is how you never get too down on things. Like when Maria cancelled on you for the dance, you didn’t worry despite your disappointment. And you went out and got yourself a great date and probably had a better time than the rest of us! You’re really great like that.”

He added a few more personal touches thanking me for friendship and help around the dorm. But my takeaway was always his kindness and his generosity. It’s not everyone that would call up their ex-girlfriend and ask for a favor–and for the likes of ME! That went a long way.

Steve DiSalvo also sent me a brief note the day after that dance that simply said “YOU OWE ME BIG TIME. Hope you had a great time!”

Ah, the jocularity!

The truth is that Fordham was a great place to be in the late 80s and early 90s. I hope that its maintained that “family feel” at the Rose Hill Campus. But it was these special people who have helped me become who I am today and pointed me in the direction of God continually awakening me to who he has called me into being. I pray that the two Steves, Melissa and my roommate, Joe indeed know how special they were and are.

I lost touch with Breton some years ago. DiSalvo and I somehow follow each other around, finding each other on boards and conferences together. Melissa and I are Facebook friends and drop an occasional note to each other. And that dear roommate and I keep tabs through Facebook and email and the occasional visit to New York, California or Buffalo. It’s all good and all grace. Friendship is often like that…even when you’re trying to screw your roommate.

Reason 985 Why I Refused to Learn How to Irish Step Dance

I didn’t want a late night talk show host to kick me in the face:

Hysterical. My mother really wanted me to learn as a kid and I somewhat regret not learning now as a 40 something adult. But I had enough people making fun of me in the 4th grade and didn’t need any more. Today it would probably be “cool” to do this but in 1980 when I was 10, not so much.

Oh well, perhaps there’s still time. My wife and I are off to go practice in the kitchen to this you tube video. I will try to not kick the dog in the snout.

Those Sexist Muppets

Peacebang, who is always insightful, mentioned her love for the muppets today but, also mentioned her distaste for an underlying (or perhaps not so underlying) sexism that runs through the recent movie.

I get that the movie is a bit retro in its attitudes, as it’s trying to keep things innocent and fresh. I appreciate that. What I did not appreciate, however, is that the screenplay makes a strong point that women are nothing without their men (or frog, as the case may be). Really, Muppets? In 2012? In 2012, the female character can’t go out for the day by herself or eat lunch by herself without falling into despair about it (and singing a big musical number about it)? Her big first number has to voice her ultimate (and apparently only) desire that her boyfriend marry her?

Male characters in this movie have dreams. They make things happen. They save the theatre, and find their talent. The ladies just go along for the ride and complain about not getting the guy. After the muppets save the theatre and treat us to a big, happy ensemble number, the movie comes to a satisfying conclusion. However, just to emphasize the point that all happiness comes from gettin’ yer man, the film adds a penultimate scene with Gary getting down on one knee and proposing to Mary. Blergh.

Part of me wants to say, relax they’re puppets. But they’re also role models, which is her point. I think the movie says a bit about helicopter parenting too. Walter needs to grow up and not depend on his big brother so much and Gary (Jason Segal) has know when to let Walter go and face the world on his own. Is he a “man or a muppet?”

But back to the sexism thing, Peacebang also notes that Miss Piggy has a bit of this subservient attitude towards her man, er frog as well. She’s the plus sized fashion editor for Vogue and….

Miss Piggy is living the dream! She’s not wasting her life away at a dive bar in Reno like Fozzy or wiling away her days in a gated mansion like her old paramour, Kermit. Piggy is important, successful and happy.

However, in what I’m sure most people thought was a throwaway moment, Kermit confesses to Miss Piggy that he misses her and needs her, and asks her to stay in Hollywood “for him.” Without hesitation, Piggy squeals, “Of course, Kermie.”

Are you kidding!? Piggy!! Who let that dialogue happen? She should have said, “Oh, Kermie, come with me to PARIS!” Then, voila, set-up for a Muppet movie in France!

Is the converse also true? Why does Kermit need to go and find Piggy in the first place? He’s single handedly gotten all the Muppets together to save the day. Would Piggy make that much of a difference? There’s something in here about family in a larger sense I think that goes beyond “living the dream” and says that things aren’t the same unless everyone is here. It’s like when someone skips the family reunion and we just have to call them on the phone when everyone is around. Peacebang and I have a mutual friend in Dr. Rachel Bundang and she recalled a trip to the Phillipines where she passed the phone around to all her family members so they could talk to her mother and father and share in the joy of family.

Perhaps this is how God looks to each one of us and it’s the true beatific vision of the last days when all division ceases and we move into a new life of union with God?

I think it’s less about sexism and more about unity–that one just can’t be apart from the ones that they love.

And that means everyone–whether that means marriage for some, or reunion for others or even Gary’s longing to connect with who he really is–I think the show is all about not living life in a vacuum. That life is to be shared and that just work success, or financial success isn’t enough. Or even when we try to ignore who we really are, we end up removing ourselves from the world and end up in disharmony.

And that’s not a happy song…but this is:

Notice the clergyman in the wedding scene and that they got married in the church! We have a need for one another–and that’s church, folks.

Naval Officer, Marine Commander, Bishop…He Did it All.

I’ve had the pleasure to get to know a few Bishops in my career. And at a time when Bishops are criticized and critical of many things, I’d like to take time out to remember one Bishop fondly.

Bishop Joseph Estabrook was an auxiliary Bishop of the Military Diocese and I was proud to know him and call him a friend. He was a great colleague, serving as the Episcopal Moderator for NCYAMA the National Catholic Young Adult Ministry Association and was a rising star in the Church before cancer slowed him and eventually took his life at the much too young age of 67.

He was a great companion to our men and women in uniform. He once told me that he spent a great deal of time listening to “tough Marines cry” and that it was his ministry to be a companion to them in their time of need.

“I’ve seen so many Marines cry and it’s made me realize how tough they really are…especially after I hear what they are going through.”

He was always insightful and practical and a rabid supporter of my work at Busted Halo. He loved a video I produced, “Is Evolution Making a Monkey Out of the Catholic Church?” and spent a lot of time talking to me about what the marines on one of the bases he visited had to say about it.

“It opened a large conversation for us and it helped them see our church as an intellectually solid option.” I could think of nothing more honorable that anyone could say about our efforts.

Bishop Estabrook was also a very funny guy. He regaled us with stories over dinner and he would tell them with such a straight face that it would just become funnier and funnier.

For example: “I worked for the Bishop in Albany and he refused to wear the white vestments at funerals when the changes came down. One day a very public official died and we laid out the white vestments for him. He came in and was furious. ‘What are these?’ We then proceeded to tell him that he needed to wear them. He replied, “Give me five good reasons why I should put these on!’ We replied that this was what the universal church was doing and that the mass would be televised and that he needed to put these on as a show of unity. The church had decided on changing to focus on resurrection and he had move with the church and accept change–even if he was set in his ways.”

He continued with a wry smile:

“So he puts on the white vestments and then the time for the homily came. He starts out, ‘Well, Jim (the deceased) was a great public servant. And there’s one thing about him that always impressed me. Jim was never afraid of change! He always despite his fear, was able to accept change for the better. And so in Jim’s honor, I’d like to announce something. You see these white vestments, I’m instituting them in the diocese today. It’s a new change that we can’t be afraid of, that we need to move with the rest of the church into changing times.”

Bishop Estabrook reported that the Bishop them went on to enumerate all the reasons that they had given him just five minutes before the mass started.

“I looked at him and said, ‘I can’t believe you just did that!’ And he replied, ‘I’m just doing what you guys tell me I should be doing!’ He was a crazy guy, but was really a sweet man who we all loved down deep.”

I learned that he had cancer this past summer through some colleagues and some contract work I was doing for the military diocese. Mark Moitoza, the director of young adult ministry for the diocese said, “He’s a tough old marine. He’s on some kind of crazy chemotherapy that’s supposed to knock all the hair out of your head the next day. It’s nearly a month in and he hasn’t lost a hair. Amazing.

I think it must have been vanity, as the good Bishop was always well-coiffed. He was a good looking man. One colleague once said that she had “A Bishop crush.” Unbeknownist to the Bishop, he was a part of the greatest practical joke that I ever pulled off.

I called said colleague and disguised my voice and said:

“This is Bishop Estabrook, and I hear you have some kind of crush on me. We need to discuss that immediately.”

I went on and on…and finally revealed my identity. Much to the relief of the said colleague who had begun to dial the Bishop’s office on her cell phone. She then called me, half-laughing and half-furious.

As a funny guy, himself, I think the Bishop would have approved.

A priest of the Albany Diocese, he entered Military Chaplaincy in 1977 and served on several Naval bases before ending up in Hawaii at Pearl Harbor where he served as command chaplain in 1997. He later would serve in the same capacity at the Marine Corps base in Hawaii as well.

In 2004 he was named a Bishop and retired from the Navy. It was then that I met him in Cleveland at a conference and our friendship began.

I will miss you, Bishop. Thanks for helping us put young adults on the agenda of your fellow Bishops. Thanks for taking time for so many young adults throughout your career, on both land and sea, uniformed and civilian. But most of all, thanks for simply being my friend.

Rest in peace, Joe.

Eternal rest, grant unto him, O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May Bishop Estabrook’s soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.