Scylla and Charybdis

No, I can’t actually pronounce those two words either; even though I was introduced to them in early high school (thank you, Mr Oesch). But, unlike a lot of words that I have a comfortable relationship with, understand what they mean (or rather, what the expression means), and can use them in a sentence, I just can’t say ‘em.

What brought them to mind this morning was the growing controversy about the allowance of some sort of alternative group to participate in the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade, but not to allow a comparable group of a differing political point of view to participate. While this topic is very rich in targets (unconscionably so), I want (at present) to concentrate on only one (maybe, if I run out of grist for this particular mill, I’ll cast my net wider).

Now, I do not consider myself Irish, nor do I hold any particular attachment to the Irish. I have absolutely nothing against the Irish (or the British, who have treated the Irish no better than white Americans have treated black Americans, or, any other non-white Americans, for that matter). And, growing up, I always thought the St Patrick’s Day festivities were nothing to be taken seriously, if not something of a joke. After all, my family, with no attachment to the Finns, celebrated St Urho’s Day (obviously, the day before St Patrick’s Day) fairly religiously (ok, so my Dad was the only one I knew who sent out St Urho’s Day cards with the zeal of anyone sending out the annual Christmas Letter).

But to pour dye into the Chicago River (really?), or stage a parade in New York City? Do grownups do that sort of thing? Well, now that I are one, I guess I can no longer suspend disbelief. Yes Virginia, adults actually do stuff like that; though no one quite understands the reasoning.

Nevertheless, in this day-and-age, to hold some sort of celebration, ostensibly in the name of honoring a Roman Catholic Saint boggles the mind (just in case you didn’t know, some Roman Catholics – especially those who drink green beer, ‘cause there’s really no difference between crankcase oil and Guinness – do believe there really, actually, honestly, and no-foolin’ was a dude who chased all the grasshoppers out of Finland, no, wait, was that snakes?). It would seem to me that the last thing any self-respecting tree-hugging, bed-wetting, baby-killing, any-lifestyle-other-than-one-thousands-of-years-old liberal would want, would be to pay any attention to, let alone set aside a special day on the calendar, to eat-drink-and-be-merry for a person revered by the embodiment and personification of (gasp) a 2,000 year old established (shudder) religion.

Huh? Have these people not read their own manifesto? Well, as we know from unbelievably diverse experience, the very foundation, the very bedrock of liberalism is to discard (bash?) anything older, and other, than itself. Most especially the concept that “the establishment” – that is, the existing establishment, not the one they are trying to, um, establish – is inherently bad and must be done away with. At any cost. At least, in the 60s, when I first ran into this anti-establishment way of thinking, the method was violence; which was, at the very least, honest. Tommie Smith had the brass cajones to stand up and be counted; you’d be hard pressed to find that kind of integrity today.

Be that as it may, what I really want to know is: can a Roman Catholic Cardinal be impeached? Yes, in the case of Dolan, he is an ordained priest; but as everyone (anyone?) knows, cardinals are appointed. A stroke of the papal pen gives them a new title; I presume a similar pen can revert them to a toad or lizard (apologies to our reptilian friends; which, according to Julia Roberts are more worthy of this earth than us warm-blooded human beings). But, a political toad Dolan surely is.

We no longer have a government-recognized “Christmas Holiday,” or “Easter Holiday” (though the time away from our jobs is still there); why do we still have a government-recognized parade of (to all intents and purposes) a Roman Catholic Saint? You need an excuse to be an idiot? Fine. But be honest enough not to invoke the Church as your excuse. I mean, how do you live with yourself? I’d think you be torn in at least two pieces by the dichotomy.

So, there’s this parade in NYC and a fringe-group is going to march. Why? To honor a saint? Already I am laughing. An exceptionally holy man of a church? Horrors. Et cetera (you know where I’m going). I can hear them now: “I’m going to … to honor … to pay respect to …” – oh! I just can’t go on. This keyboard can stand only so much irony.

But why does Dolan associate himself in any way with the parade? I am quite sure the cranks and the crazies can’t help themselves; but, I would think that either Dolan or his boss would have the good sense to detach from something that has been hijacked. Instead of doing the thing that does make sense, that is consistent with Church teaching, Dolan continues to beam his corpulent face upon the front page, claiming to be a Roman Catholic Cardinal. Excuse me while I throw up (retch, barf, puke, etc.).

Fine, Chicago, pour green dye in your river. Fine, NYC, stage a march. Fine, New Orleans, host a party (Mardi Gras) that is the very antithesis of the season (that would be Lent). But, don’t – puh-lease don’t – think that, for even one little second, that you have my blessing, endorsement, or (dare I say?) embrace.

Why “Scylla and Charybdis”? It is because of events such as those in NYC and the Middle East (thank you Graeme Wood), that I am refining who I am: what is important to me. The so-called alternative life-styles that are all the rage in the US now are different for the immediate gratification of being temporarily different (if everyone is being “alternative,” I have to wonder what they are alternative to). Which means there is no “between a rock and a hard place” for me. I grew up not caring about the celebrations hosted in some cities on March 17, and if possible, I care less now.

I guess maybe I should thank Dolan and his political posturing then? And, if I didn’t find him such an embarrassment, I might. But I think I’m going to pass.

Some singer made famous the line, “I would rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints.” Fine. You go ahead and live for today. For me, today is fleeting; but, eternity is a long time.


Wood, Graeme, “What ISIS Really Wants,” The Atlantic, 2015 March,

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