Episode 9: A Priest Walks Into A Bar
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Variations on the bar joke include puns or wordplay (e.g., "A panda walks into a bar; it eats, shoots and leaves"), or inanimate objects (e.g. "a sandwich walks into a bar, orders a beer, and is told by the bartender, we don't serve food here").
Another variant involves several men walking into the bar together, often with related professions, such as a priest, a minister and a rabbi. In effect, this is a merger between the "bar joke" and trio jokes involving priests, ministers and rabbis (or Buddhist monks, etc.) in other settings. This form has become so well known that it is the subject of at least one joke about the popularity of the joke itself: "A priest, a minister, and a rabbi walk into a bar. The bartender looks at them and says, 'What is this, a joke?'".
The Sliver of GodAt the daily Mass where I attend, I sometimes sit in the pews directly perpendicular to the altar (the side view). When the priest holds up the host during the consecration, it appears as a sliver, no more than a large thin coin. Can you picture it in your mind right now? Behold, therein, the Holy Trinity, the Creator of the Universe. "Look," I whispered into the ears of my toddler sons, "Jesus."
Did I Mention He's Artistic? (Or: We Love Giving Away Cool Stuff)My son Buddy, erstwhile seeker of employment, was an award-winning painter in high school. In fact, he painted the mystical Jesus Crucified (pictured to your right) we featured during our annual Christmas Appeal a couple of years back. I recently discovered a box containing exactly 215 lapel pins and I would love to send you one on a first-come first-serve basis. It makes a lovely gift for someone you love and works as a tasteful way to show the world Who you love most. And every one has been blessed by a priest and touched to my relic of the True Cross and to my first class relics of Saints Joseph, Anthony, Jude, Francis Xavier, Therese of Lisieux, and Maximilian Kolbe. Just reply to this email with your mailing address and mention you want one. I will personally pay for the postage. If you prefer to make a donation (in any amount), click here and type "Lapel Pin" into the Comments field (please specify how many up to five pins).
"Fanatical absurdities," cried the Count, who was as free from religioussentiment as his wife was devout. "If I consent to have the childbrought up in a convent, I am not actuated by any considerations offuture reward or punishment. I don't believe in such antiquated dogmas.But to the convent he shall go, and when they have taught him to forgethis origin and his religion, when they have educated him into afanatical, Jew-hating priest, then will I use him to wreak upon his ownrace that vengeance which I have sworn never to forego."
The closely veiled bride, supported by her mother and aunt, wasconducted into the room in a shower of barley, and was led to thesupremely happy groom, who, arrayed in cap and gown and wearing apraying scarf, stood ready to receive her. Seven times the maidenencircled her future husband and then took her position at his side,after which the father of the kalle (bride) began the importantservices. Holding a goblet of wine in his right hand, he invoked God'sblessing with the tenderness of a loving father and the solemnity of apriest. Short and impressive was the chanted prayer. The couple sippedthe wine, the ring was placed on the bride's finger, the words uttered,a glass broken into fragments under the heel of the groom, prayers wererecited by the Rabbi, and the religious ceremony was at an end. Thenfollowed the congratulations of the friends, the good-natured pushing ofthe assembled guests in their eagerness to kiss the bride or shake theradiant groom by the hand. A bounteous feast closed the festivities.Mendel and Recha were bound to each other by indissoluble ties.
The priests invented new ceremonials and each village had its ownpeculiar method of appeasing divine wrath. In Kief, the disease hadtaken a particularly virulent form. The filthy Dnieper, contaminated bythe reeking sewerage of the city, was in a great measure to blame forthe rapid spread of the disorder, but to have advanced such a theorywould have been useless; the ignorant inhabitants ascribed the scourgeto any source but the true one. At one time the feldshers were accusedof having propagated the plague for their own pecuniary benefit, and theexcited populace threw a number of doctors out of the windows of ahospital and otherwise maltreated the poor practitioners who fell intotheir clutches.
The priest continued: "The Jews have entered every branch of trade and,worse still, have acquired lands. This is clearly against the laws ofthe Empire which forbid a Hebrew's owning land. They have crowded intoour cities to the exclusion of our own people. Kief now[Pg 217] contains overtwenty thousand Jews, whereas I am confident that the ancient laws limitthe population to less than one-half that number. They havesystematically robbed and plundered the gentiles and by their wilesdefrauded the poorer classes. They control the trade in intoxicants andthe vast quantities drunk by the moujiks pass through the hands of theJews. Their wives are arrayed in satins and laces and wear the mostelaborate jewelry, while our lower classes suffer poverty and misery. Isit right, gentlemen, that the Jews should have such advantages over thefaithful? Something must be done to check their dangerous progress."
It was to the "Black Clergy" that Mikail belonged. As far back as hecould remember, his home had been in a monastery and his dailyassociates austere monks. He was taught that the Catholic faith is theonly path to salvation. In so far, his education was similar to that ofhis brother priests, but while the Jew Jesus inculcated love of all men,Mikail was taught to hate the Jews. No occasion was permitted to pass,no opportunity neglected to instil the subtle poison into his youngmind. The monks would point to his torn ear and palsied arm, and sovividly portray the tortures he had suffered, that Mikail clenched hislittle fists, his face became flushed and his bosom heaved at therecital of his wrongs. They took delight in repeating the tale, thatthey might witness his childish outbursts of passion and fury. Thistreatment had its desired effect; the boy developed into a rabidJew-hater.
The village priests with whom he came in daily contact were a pitiableset. He found among them many honest, respectable, well-meaning men,conscientiously fulfilling their humble tasks, striving hard to servethe religious needs of the community. There were, on the other hand,however, fanatics and rogues, men representing the worse elements ofsociety. The people shunned the clergy, and held them up to ridicule.They formed a class apart, not in sympathy with the parishioners. Theycommitted serious transgressions, were[Pg 225] irreligious and transformed theservice of God into a profitable trade.
The hazan was intoning a prayer. Between the[Pg 244] words he interjected anumber of strange trills and turns. How weird it all sounded, and yethow familiar to the wondering priest. Mikail found himself almostinstinctively supplying the following word before it was uttered by thereader. Then the congregation arose and responded to the prayer, andMikail arose, too, and it seemed as though the words of the responseswere laid upon his tongue.
The hazan opened the Pentateuch and the parnas of the congregationwas called to the Torah. Every movement was anticipated by the priest.The parnas reverently lifted the fringes of his tallis, and with themtouched the sacred Scroll; then, kissing them, he recited the customaryblessing. Mikail repeated it with him. It sounded almost as familiar ashis own liturgy. Suddenly a reaction came over the stern and haughtypriest as the services continued. A strange storm broke within hisbosom; undefined recollections, visions of a once happy home, a tangledrevery of fanciful memories chased each other through his excited brain.Without knowing why, he felt the hot tears coursing down his cheeks,tears which not even the harsh treatment he had endured during his earlyyears at the monastery could force from their reservoirs. One afteranother, seven men were called to the Torah, and their actions andprayers were a repetition of those of the parnas. The monotonousreading at length came to an end, Mikail heard the bolts withdrawn, andwith hasty strides he cleared the passage into the street. On he spedthrough the city, looking neither to the right nor the left, scarcelyknowing whither he went, until he finally reached the Petcherskoiconvent, where he had taken up his temporary quarters. Without returningthe greetings of the monks, apparently unconscious of his surroundings,he went straight to his cell and there gave way to a flood of passion.
Darker and darker it grew in Israel. The sun of its brief prosperity wasgradually becoming obscured by heavy clouds of intolerance andfanaticism, clouds which did not display the proverbial silver lining ofhope and comfort. This was a period of great activity for Mikail; neverbefore had he found such congenial employment. After making a series ofone-sided investigations, in which he interrogated principally those whohad real or imaginary cause for complaint against the Hebrews, thepriest embodied his conclusions in a book, entitled "The Annihilation ofthe Jews." Unquenchable hatred breathed in every page. With a cunninghand, he subverted facts to suit his fancy. He drew a vivid picture ofthe great dissatisfaction existing because the Hebrews were achievingsuccess in various branches of enterprise to the exclusion of thegentiles. With peculiar logic he argued that sooner or later quarrelsmust ensue between the races, that if there were no Jews there could beno trouble, and that they should therefore be driven out of the country.His work accused the Jews of thriving almost entirely upon usury andgross dishonesty, in spite of the fact that many of the chief industriesof Russia were in the hands of thrifty and honorable Israelites. Itpurposed to forbid the Jews from keeping inns, on the ground that theyfostered intemperance, in the face of statistics which showeddrunkenness to be most prevalent in provinces where no Jews are allowedto reside. It finally advised the confiscation of all property belongingto the Jews and the summary expulsion of the despised race from theEmpire. 781b155fdc