Tag Archives: satire

Some Standard Wisdom on Ministers’ Wives

After a couple of weeks of more serious excerpts, it is time to return to more lighthearted fare. This offering, entitled “The Minister’s Wife” was intended, almost certainly, as a sarcastic critique of the unrealistic expectation that congregations had for the spouses of their leaders. Still, I can’t help but read it and think that, hovering just beneath the surface, is an genuine wish.

The minister’s wife ought to be selected by a committee of the church. She should be warranted never to have a headache, or neuralgia; she should have nerves of iron; she should never be tired or sleepy, and should be everybody’s cheerful drudge; she should be cheerful, intellectual, pious, domesticated; she should keep her husband’s house, darn his stockings, make his shirts, cook his dinner, light his fire, and copy his sermons; she should keep up the style of a lady on the wages of a day-laborer, and be always at leisure for “good works,” and ready to receive morning calls; she should be secretary to the Band of Hope, Dorcas Society, and the Home Mission; she should conduct Bible classes and mothers’ meetings; should make clothes for the poor and gruel for the sick; and finally she should be pleased with everybody and everything, and desire no reward beyond the satisfaction of having done her own duty and other people’s too.

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The Cows, a Sequel to Hitchcock’s the Birds

Photo by Ryan Thompson

Remember that cow that got shot outside the primary school in the UK? You know, the one that got shot, and then got shot again, and then got shot again, and then was finally killed? The one the police insist they definitely did not miss, because it is better to be inhumane than inaccurate? Of course you remember–unless you’re from Oklahoma, in which case you’re excused. Well, after promising to take seriously the “significant public interest” in the not-at-all-disproportionate response–four marksmen, one sergeant, five officers, four PCSOs, five patrol cars, and a police van–to a cow loose in a residential area, the Lincolnshire Police issued a statement:

“The animal’s presence in a residential area posed a serious risk to safety. A significant amount of resources were committed to containing the animal. The intention was to safely remove the animal from the area without destroying it if at all possible.

“After more than two hours of working towards this aim, it became apparent that it was not achievable. Several options, including sedation, were considered. The RSPCA and the owner of the animal were consulted.

“As more members of the public turned up to watch the incident, prompted by online commentary on the situation, the animal became increasingly distressed and there were fears that it would jump further fences and re-enter a residential area.”

A compelling argument.

Meanwhile, on the continent, the Austrians are dealing with a full blown cowpocalypse.

A police statement says the 43 steers defied attempts by police and volunteer firefighters to recapture them after wandering off Thursday and heading toward the Upper Austrian town of Freistadt. After being chased away from the railway station, they endangered motorists by stampeding onto a two-lane highway before running into a town suburb.

Two firefighters who tried to stop them were injured and needed hospital treatment.

The statement says 18 of the animals remain on the loose Friday. The rest have been corralled or tranquilized.

Oh, the humanity! Of all people, the Austrians should have a keen cultural awareness of the danger of appeasement techniques like corralling and tranquilizing. Lives are on the line, and the casualties are racking up. After two hours days of trying to control these stampeding menaces, surely it is time to take off the kid gloves and bring in the amateur marksmen with the seventy-two rounds necessary to fell eighteen cows. The real question for Americans is, if Austria solicits military aid in this time of crisis, should we send troops or should Obama just call in a drone strike?

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The Wisdom of Mark Twain

The following quote from Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi has a tendency to appear in a variety of contexts, from discussions of mathematical principles to misguided attempts to defend creationism. I recently encountered it employed by Anna Green and Kathleen Troup as part of a critique of some of the possible excesses of quantitative history. Regardless of the context, it is simultaneously humorous and thought provoking as only Twain is:

Therefore: the Mississippi between Cairo and New Orleans was twelve hundred and fifteen miles long one hundred and seventy-six years ago. It was eleven hundred and eighty after the cut-off of 1722. It was one thousand and forty after the American Bend cut-off (some sixteen or seventeen years ago.) It has lost sixty-seven miles since. Consequently its length is only nine hundred and seventy-three miles at present.

Now, if I wanted to be one of those ponderous scientific people, and “let on” to prove what had occurred in the remote past by what had occurred in a given time in the recent past, or what will occur in the far future by what has occurred in late years, what an opportunity is here! Geology never had such a chance, nor such exact data to argue from! Nor “development of species,” either! Glacial epochs are great things, but they are vague–vague. Please observe:

In the space of one hundred and seventy six years the Lower Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. That is an average of a trifle over one mile and a third per year. Therefore, any calm person, who is not blind or idiotic, can see that in the Old Oölitic Silurian Period, just a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi River was upwards of one million three hundred thousand miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-rod. And by the same token any person can see that seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three quarters long, and Cairo and New Orleans will have joined their streets together, and be plodding comfortably along under a single mayor and a mutual board of aldermen. There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.

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Sexy Amendments to the Constitution

We have all heard the ultimately impotent advocacy for an amendment to the Constitution that would restrict marriage to heterosexual monogamy. We have also all heard the formulaic justification: protect the family, protect marriage. The main problem here is that if I am really interested in protecting the family and traditional marriage, if I toast my Pop Tart every morning in the warm glow of my righteous cause, then a Constitutional ban on same-sex marriage is not where I’m going to start.

You won’t hear Mitt Romney or Sean Hannity say it (though you might keep an eye on Newt Gingrich), but what this country really needs to protect families is an Amendment that criminalizes premarital sex. Out of wedlock births are the problem. That is what’s destroying the family. The Brookings Institution reports:

In 1965, 24 percent of black infants and 3.1 percent of white infants were born to single mothers. By 1990 the rates had risen to 64 percent for black infants, 18 percent for whites. Every year about one million more children are born into fatherless families.

As of 1990, more than one in four children are born out of wedlock. Meanwhile, The National Gay and Lesbian Task force estimates that only 3-8% of the population are homosexuals, a number significantly higher than equally partisan Christian groups’ estimates and higher even than Kinsey’s statistic of 4% exclusively homosexual males. Even if we accept that high number thought, children born out of wedlock are a significantly higher percentage of children than homosexuals are of the general population. Even if suddenly same sex marriage were legal and immediately the entire homosexual population of America were to marry at the same rate the heterosexual population does, roughly half, the 12.5 million newly married homosexuals would still not match the roughly 20 million children under eighteen who were born out of wedlock. If we want to promote healthy families centered on heterosexual parents, the first step is to criminalize sex outside of marriage with an amendment to the Constitution.

Even if, oh were that it so, we could get that magical clause tacked on to the Constitution, gay marriage wouldn’t be my next stop. After criminalizing pre-marital sex, the next greatest threat to traditional marriage is divorce. The oft quoted statistic that half of all marriages end in divorce, probably more scientifically stated as 40-50% of marriage will be disrupted by permanent separation or divorce, ought to be enough to prove that conclusively. In addition to destroying half of all traditional, heterosexual marriages, divorce leaves an estimated 1.1 million new children in broken homes every year. That is only slightly lower than the 1.2 million children born out of wedlock every year. The family is suffering.

If we follow our statistical path from the tentatively titled “No Milk Until You Buy the Cow Amendment,” allowing same sex marriage would only see about a 2-4% increase in marriages, or roughly 100,000. Meanwhile, the legality of divorce allows for the destruction every year of well over one million marriages. The disparity is clear. Divorce poses roughly ten times the danger to marriage and the family that same sex marriage does. It must be criminalized, and it must be done at the Constitutional level.

It is a tragedy, really, that the “consistent conservatives” in this country have had so much trouble appropriately identifying and combating the real threats to traditional marriage. Perhaps if we made it an issues of America’s standing in the world. Maybe if we point out that socialist Sweden has managed a significantly lower divorce rate than America. Or that in the sensuous Mediterranean climes of Spain, the out of wedlock birthrate is about 75% of what it is in the States. Canada is beating us in every category, which ought to be enough to infuriate every conservative. For single-parent households as a percentage of total households with children, America ranks below Canada, Japan, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the UK. We’re dead last.

So let’s get with it, defenders of traditional marriage. If you genuinely care about the state of marriage in this country, then it is time to stand up and make the hard decisions necessary to protect it. That, or maybe it is time to be honest with yourself and the public about what motivates your politics. Honesty in politics: God help us if we ever get it.

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And now for something completely different…

I’m not one for simply reblogging from other sites, typically. This short article, however, tickled me so thoroughly and will provide such a welcome relief from yet another protracted multi-part, one-sided argument that I can’t help but share it:

Hipster Christians, I’m going to help you out. I see you are grasping at something, trying to find the ironic Church of your dreams, where men can grow beards of foolish proportions and women can dress like their grannies’ grannies, a place where scarves are worn in every unfashionable fashion imaginable, a place where people do shots and eat hummus at community gatherings, enjoy rooms filled with a fog of incense and prefer to read books that pre-date industrialisation.

I would like to direct your attention to “The Orthodox Church.”

With this teaser having whet your appetite, I’ll direct you to the rest of this charming post on the original site.

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The Song of the Summer

I don’t typically go in for Top 40 music, but this song (shockingly) hit the spot. I’m not sure what it is:

Incidentally, to all those who have, for whatever inexplicable reason, visited The Itinerant Mind, thank you. The Blogger edition just passed the ten thousand pageview mark, with the much newer WordPress edition sliding past one thousand at almost the same time.

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Joe Paterno Has Died

After having one of the most trying years imaginable, legendary sports icon Joe Paterno has died. I hold the Penn State board of trustees personally responsible. Sure, you may say that is an irrational, knee-jerk overreaction, but who are they to judge?

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On the Occasion of the End of Iraq

Well, with the American military presence in Iraq winding down–as much as American military presence in the world every really winds down–we can officially say this war is over. As we prepare to begin a new year, which will most certainly bring us new wars, it seems especially appropriate to share the words of Mr. Dooley, the satirical voice of nineteenth century humorist Finley Peter Dunne, as he offers up his conversational wisdom on another, similar American imperialistic endeavor in the Philippines. (The following has been edited from the original for readability.)

“I know what I’d do if I was Mack,” said Mr. Hennessy. “I’d hoist a flag over th’ Ph’lippeens, an’ I’d take in th’ whole lot of them.”

“An’ yet,” said Mr. Dooley, “tis not more then two months since ye learned whether they were islands or canned goods. Your back yard is so small that your cow can’t turn round without buttin’ th’ woodshed off th’ premises, an’ ye wouldn’t go out to th’ stock yards without takin’ out a policy on your life. Suppose ye was standin’ at th’ corner of State Street an’ Archy Road, wud ye know what car to take to get to th’ Ph’lippeens? If your son Packy was to ask ye where th’ Ph’lippeens is, could ye give him any good idea whether they was in Rooshia or jus’ west of th’ tracks?”

“Maybe I couldn’t,” said Mr. Hennessy, haughtily, “but I’m f’r takin’ them in, anyhow.”

“So might I be,” said Mr. Dooley, “if I could on’y get me mind on it. One of the worst things about this here war is th’ way it’s makin’ puzzles f’r our poor, tired heads. When I went into it, I thought all I’d have to do was to set up here behind th’ bar with a good tin-cent cigar in me teeth, an’ toss dynamite bombs into th’ hated city of Havana. But look at me now. Th’ war is still goin’ on; an’ every night, when I’m countin’ up the cash, I’m askin’ myself will I annex Cubia or leave it to the Cubians? Will I take Porther Ricky or put it by? An’ what should I do with the Ph’lippeens? Oh, what should I do with them? I can’t annex them because I don’t know where they are. I can’t let go of them because some one else’ll take them if I do. They are eight thousan’ of them islands, with a population of one hundred million naked savages; an’ me bedroom’s crowded now with me an’ th’ bed. How can I take them in, an’ how on earth am I goin’ to cover th’ nakedness of them savages with me one suit of clothes? An’ yet ‘twud break me heart to think of givin’ people I never see or heard tell of back to other people I don’t know. An’, if I don’t take them, Schwartzmeister down th’ street, that has half me trade already, will grab them sure.

“It ain’t that I’m afraid of not doin’ th’ right thing in th’ end, Hinnissy. Some mornin’ I’ll wake up an’ know jus’ what to do, an’ that I’ll do. But ’tis th’ annoyance in th’ meantime. I’ve been readin’ about th’ country. ‘Tis over beyond your left shoulder when you’re facin’ east. Jus’ throw your thumb back, an’ ye have it as accurate as any man in town. ‘Tis farther then Boohlgahrya an’ not so far as Blewchoochoo. It’s near Chiny, an’ it’s not so near; an’, if a man was to bore a well through fr’m Goshen, Indiana, he might strike it, an’ then again he might not. It’s a poverty-stricken country, full of gold an’ precious stones, where th’ people can pick dinner off th’ trees an’ are starvin’ because they have no step-ladders. Th’ inhabitants is mostly naygurs an’ Chinnymen, peaceful, industrious, an’ law-abidin’, but savage an’ bloodthirsty in their methods. They wear no clothes except what they have on, an’ each woman has five husbands an’ each man has five wives. Th’ rest goes into th’ discard, th’ same as here. Th’ islands has been owned be Spain since before th’ fire; an’ she’s treated them so well they’re now up in arms again her, except a majority of them which is thoroughly loyal. Th’ natives seldom fight, but when they get mad at one another they run-a-muck. When a man r-runs-a-muck, sometimes they hang him an’ sometimes they discharge him an’ hire a new motorman. Th’ women are beautiful, with languishin’ black eyes, an’ they smoke cigars, but are hurried an’ incomplete in their dress. I see a picture of one th’ other day with nawthin’ on her but a basket of coconuts an’ a hoop-skirt. They’re no prudes. We import juke, hemp, cigar wrappers, sugar, an’ fairy tales from th’ Ph’lippeens, an’ export six-inch shells an’ th’ like. Of late th’ Ph’lippeens has awaked to th’ fact that they’re behind th’ times, an’ has received much American amminition in their midst. They say th’ Spanyards is all tore up about it.

“I learned all this fr’m th’ papers, an’ I know ’tis straight. An’ yet, Hinnissy, I dunno what to do about th’ Ph’lippeens. An’ I’m all alone in th’ world. Everybody else has made up his mind. Ye ask any conductor on Archy Road, an’ he’ll tell ye. Ye can find out fr’m the papers; an’, if ye really want to know, all ye have to do is to ask a prominent citizen who can mow all th’ lawn he owns with a safety razor. But I don’t know.”

“Hang on to them,” said Mr. Hennessy, stoutly. “What we’ve got we must hold.”

“Well,” said Mr. Dooley, “if I was Mack, I’d leave it to George. I’d say: ‘George,’ I’d say, ‘if you’re for hangin’ on, hang on it is. If ye say, lave go, I drop them.’ ‘Twas George won them with th’ shells, an’ th’ question’s up to him.”

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In Other News

In supporting his new bill designed to bring back firing squads–or, as he puts it, lead cocktails–as a means of execution, Florida’s Rep. Brad Drake confesses, “I have no desire to humanely respect those that are inhumane.”

In ironic and unrelated news, a new study published Molecular Psychiatry found that depression alters brain chemistry in such a way that people often turn hate for others into self-loathing.

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You have been weighed in the balance…

On this Lord’s Day, let us give thanks for the punishment which is dolled out against that most heinous sin of apostasy. Particularly those apostates Colorado, Nebraska, and Texas A&M, each of whom suffered upsetting losses yesterday in their new home conferences. Texas A&M’s sins must have been particularly heinous, since–to match their loss to a middle-of-the-pack SEC team this week–they had an equally embarassing loss to a middle-of-the-pack Big 12 team last week. Clearly, “the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” (Psalm 1:6)

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