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Randy Cassingham

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bullet  "False, Crude and Offensive!"

An angry Premium subscriber, after reading a story in this week's issue, wrote to proclaim "That is not only false, crude, and offensive, it is an obvious, kneejerk response that would occur to many people looking for a cheap shot." Let's start with the story, from the 6 September 2009 issue:

Get On Your Knees

The Catholic Truth Society, a Roman Catholic publishing company based in London, England, has released a special prayer to help couples "purify their intentions" before they have sex. The prayer is the society's response to "those caught up in a culture that rejects the indissolubility of marriage and openly mocks the commitment of spouses to fidelity." (London Telegraph) ...All the Catholic girls I've ever known always said a prayer after sex.

I guess Marty in New York is Catholic. But let's go back and take the story apart bit by bit. He's saying it's not true that the Catholic Truth Society is a Roman Catholic publishing company? Or that they're not in London? He's saying they did not release a special prayer to help couples "purify their intentions" before they have sex? He's saying the prayer is not the society's response to "those caught up in a culture that rejects the indissolubility of marriage and openly mocks the commitment of spouses to fidelity" (as they were quoted)? No, I think all of those facts are true -- and I've covered every point that my version of the story made. So what's "false" about my version of the story? Surely nothing -- and it does accurately reflect and summarize the article published by the identified source, the Telegraph in London.

I can't speak to what Marty might find "crude and offensive". It's probably unlikely that he found my slug (title -- "Get On Your Knees") to be too objectionable, since that's where a good many people pray. And I'm a little unclear whether my tagline is what he found "crude and offensive" or if it was the media treatment of the story in general. If it's the media in general, then he's venting his spleen at the wrong person; if the Telegraph got it wrong, shame on them -- and he should write them a letter to set the reporter straight.

But I can only go with what they published. True is, as I've made clear since 1994, news (and, by extension, social) commentary -- I comment on news stories I see. Since surely he would admit that there's nothing in my story that's "false", especially when compared to the source, I'll assume that he didn't like my tagline.

And you know what? I stand by my tagline. It's funny, and all the other mail I got on it was of the "Darn it! You made me spew coffee on my keyboard!" variety. But I do know that not everyone will find every tag funny, or even appropriate, especially if it hits a hot button for them. And clearly, this one did hit a hot button for Marty -- so much so, he couldn't see the humor in it, as people who had a little distance could. Is it a "cheap shot" that I got a laugh out of the fact that Catholic girls are worried that they may have gotten pregnant by having sex without using (as the church demands) any sort of birth control? Well, that depends on your point of view, doesn't it? I can understand Catholics could be offended; can Marty understand that most non-Catholics wouldn't be? But what about the bigger picture?

The Catholic Truth Society itself has commented on the media treatment on the prayer (and the book it was published in) -- even Marty sent me the link. On their web site they noted that because of the widespread media amusement, they've been "inundated with orders for the book" and that "it has been interesting to note that even the very idea of a positive connection between the physical and the spiritual is a new idea to many, and this news story by itself has set some people thinking on new lines."

And isn't that exactly the point? Releasing the prayer to the media got attention, and led not only to sales of the book the prayer is in, it got people to think about their religion in a new light. That's not something to get angry over, that's wonderful! And if it came at the cost of a snicker about one of the realities of being Catholic, so what? "The media" helped the Society shine a little light into the human condition -- just as the Society had hoped. That's not a problem, that's a major "win".

- - -

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76 Comments on This Entry

All comments in this blog are reviewed prior to being published. Spammers: don't waste your time. The posting criteria are simple: if a comment is worth visitors' time to read, it's approved. If not, it's not.


Posted by Matt, New Zealand on September 11, 2009:

My take on this is that the angry premium subscriber is likely to be catholic and is simply a hater for anyone who speaks out against, or mentions their religion without what they deem to be the proper reverence.

Yet I find it interesting how chances are (and I'm speculating here) that they would have no problem at all telling you how you should refrain from using birth control and avoid having an abortion even if the baby is from rape or likely to harm the mother.

No one like the religious to practise double standards!

Posted by Carter - Altanta, GA on September 11, 2009:

My only thoughts are - You can please some of the people all the time, but not all the people all the time.

As with the healthcare debate, pleasing everyone is NOT possible and thus - Thank Marty for his response, it is a free country where we can say what we want, even if others do not agree and now let us move on.

---

And to be sure, I do thank Marty: he provided me a platform to point out that the story helps people understand Catholics, rather than (as he seems to believe) create more distance. It's his reaction that creates the distance. -rc

Posted by Colleen,Bound Brook NJ on September 11, 2009:

Prayer before and after marital relations is an extremely ancient Judeo-Christian tradition, dating back to the Psalm of Psalms/Song of Songs/Song of Solomon. I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong (TRUE readers are helpful that way...), I believe it's a long-standing Jewish tradition to pray this Psalm as spouses before and during relations on the Sabbath. The imagery is quite evocative.

Who is to say what the many people who invoke the name of the Almighty ("Oh God!, Oh, God!...) during the act actually mean by doing so? I know I'M praying, for one reason or another. I'd like to get a copy of the book mentioned in the story, or one like it. All I have to say to Marty is "Try it, you might actually like it!" Beyond that I'm going to practice my Catholic faith and refrain from berating other adults from using their God-given Free Will!

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I did check Amazon U.S. for the book, and they don't have it -- it shows "Out of Print". You may be able to get it through the Society; I don't know if they ship to the U.S., but you can find ordering info via the link I provided. -rc

Posted by Allen, Arizona on September 11, 2009:

I'd actually like to address a part of Marty's complaint that you didn't: "it is an obvious, kneejerk response that would occur to many people looking for a cheap shot."

By "it" I presume, just as you did, that Marty is referring to your tagline. I saw Conan O'Brien report on the same story on The Tonight Show. O'Brien is a well-paid comedian who spends a lot of his time doing what you do: commenting on the news. Unlike you, he has a large, full-time staff of professional writers. If your joke on the story is "obvious" you can rest assured that neither Conan nor his staff thought of it. And, in fact, your joke was better!

Posted by Adam, Madison, WI on September 11, 2009:

I can only imagine that his problem was from your tag line. As a Catholic myself, we're not suppose to have sex until after marriage, and we should be very open to life and be pro-life. To say all Catholic girls you know say a prayer after sex implies that whether they use birth control or not, there's probably some promiscuity going on (unless already faithfully married), and they are praying to not have gotten pregnant although they need to be open to the idea of life. As for my opinion, I wouldn't say it is funny, but in terms of my religion a sad reality. I wouldn't want my religion and what people in my religion do to be made fun of and to have jokes made against them, so I would personally restrain from joking about people in other religions, but you outlined a sad fact in our faith today.

Posted by Walter, Florida on September 11, 2009:

Just a few words: "He has a problem".

Posted by Gordon - Australia on September 11, 2009:

Strange - all the girls I know pray during sex. At least that's what I think they are doing when the start calling out Oh! God.

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I figured someone would post that sooner rather than later! May as well get it over with. :-) -rc

Posted by Greg in Seattle on September 11, 2009:

You lie! ;-)

I think his response is to your tagline which seems to imply that Catholic "girls" as a group are promiscuous and use prayer as form of birth control. I can see where certain Catholic men, especially fathers of "good" girls, might find your tagline crude, cheap, and false.

OTOH, teenagers are notoriously rebellious and careless, and you'll find a LOT of adults who claim that the rebelling against the stricture of Catholicism is directly related to their wild youth. To claim that your tagline doesn't stand up in his experience might be one thing, but I'm sure we can find a large collection of Catholic boys and girls to whom it applies.

---

Thank you Joe Wilson! Funny, but even with his complaint it never occurred to me that my tagline could imply that Catholic girls are more promiscuous than anyone else. I don't think that, and thus the tagline certainly doesn't imply that, though I agree that an especially paranoid father might think that. And that's the truth, Congressman! -rc

Posted by Silvy, Virginia on September 11, 2009:

As soon as I read your tag line I thought you were going to get some heat for it for sure. Of course, you knew it too.

I was born and raised catholic and I thought it was funny as hell! HA!

You haven't managed to offend me yet in all the years I have been reading TRUE, and frankly I don't think you will ever. I track with you all the way. I just hope that makes me almost as smart as you!

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Yes, I obviously did know the tagline would "challenge" some people, though I thought we were past the kneejerk reaction phase of TRUE's early years. I'm glad you were smart enough to see the humor, and thoughtful enough to enjoy it. -rc

Posted by Pat in San Jose on September 11, 2009:

As a practicing Catholic, i.e., I go to church on Sundays, I study my religion's tenets, and I actively question my behavior and beliefs as I go through life, I get mildly offended by 'Catholic girl' jokes (Billy Joel's Only the good die young for example). How about substituting 'Muslim' or 'Methodist', or 'Atheist' for Catholic, and see what you get for responses? In fact, the heck with the minimal humor involved in this story, why not tweak as many people as you can? Oh, wait: I forgot. You do that already. Never mind.

---

Would I have done the story the same way if it had been a Methodist publisher instead? You bet. The same if it was atheists? Well, I have a hard time believing an atheist press would release a prayer book, but indeed I have made jokes about atheists, pagans, and others -- just as you concluded. -rc

Posted by Mike from Dallas on September 11, 2009:

Kinda like Isaac Hayes (the voice of Chef on South Park): Pokes fun at every known religion in the world as our First Amendment allows (both freedom of speech and religion), but quits in a hissy fit because one episode targets HIS religion.

Ya know, I gotta wonder about an organization that prohibits contraceptives because it "thwarts" the will of God. For One who created the Universe, not to mention knocking up some Jewish broad without touching her, apparently contraceptives pose no "thwart" at all.

So here we have unmarried women getting pregnant, and when asked why they don't just use the pill, you hear the excuse that it's a violation of their religion. Um, isn't it also a violation of their religion to have premarital sex?

So you can BET that Catholic girls pray after sex. I thought Catholics were taught that The Truth Shall Set You Free, not offend people.

Posted by Patricia, Dearborn Height, MI on September 11, 2009:

I am a 40ish female who believes in God, in particular, I identify with some or most of the tenants of Prostestant religions. I do NOT practice "community or communal church" and do not believe that THAT is the only way I can connect with my Lord and Savior.

Growing up I knew plenty of girls who were of both very religious Catholic and Protestant persuasions... the "old joke" was a whole lot closer to the truth than most would admit, those who were considered "good girls" because of their parents or how much they attended church were USUALLY the most active sexually.

However, YOUR article eluded to "couples" with no elucidation of whether or not they were married other then the techno-babble from the Church of "those caught up in a culture that rejects the indissolubility of marriage and openly mocks the commitment of spouses to fidelity."

I read that a couple of times and thought about it for a while. My conclusion, as was probably others, was to conform it to today's society. As long as you pray, God has your back, as long as you were a "couple" however LONG that lasts.

I THINK (and it's only MY personal opinion) if you had included the word "married" with couples into YOUR article, then you wouldn't have had ANY flack regardless if you had used the same tagline, SPECIFICALLY because of the "old joke!" It would have cleared up the story a bit for me and you usually DO cover all bases. But, then, there are always those who will take offense when it comes to "hitting" on the religious, race, gender and political when they THINK it goes overboard on something that is socially, stereotypically an old joke.

When we get to where we can't poke fun at religious (or any) stereotypes (remember, they are stereotypes because certain BEHAVIORS have happened time and again), then we must surrender to the Taliban or the Secret Police because we aren't ALLOWED to call out historical (and hysterical) BEHAVIORS and think they are either hypocritical and/or funny.

---

If you look at the source article in the Telegraph that I linked to, it also uses the term "couples" in the article's subhead. The book is titled the "Prayer Book for Spouses", but the emphasis of the article was in fact "couples" rather than "married couples"; in fact the word "married" isn't on that page (though "marriage" is). -rc

Posted by Harvey, New York on September 11, 2009:

It's unfortunate that some self righteous person wants to shoot the messenger. Why is anyone so surprised about British advice on Sex? Their historic record on religion, high profile marriage, religious tolerance, and sex in general is laughable. People learn by example more than by edict.

I was once told that the last act of a dying institution is to rewrite the rule book. Enough said.

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I'm not sure if this is more "British advice", "Catholic advice" or "British Catholic advice" as I don't know much about this particular institution, the "Catholic Truth Society". But either way, I understand your point. -rc

Posted by Cory, Topeka kansas on September 11, 2009:

Now I wish I hadn't let my premium membership lapse.

---

It's never too late to come back. -rc

Posted by Patricia, Dearborn Heights, MI on September 11, 2009:

I understood completely both your article and tagline (as well as the results of my snorting my Orange Crush Soda through my nose while reading it (now I have to clean the monitor (Darn you, Randy... that's your fault as well).

I just knew that it would be an issue with SOMEONE having a supreme mouth attack from the article and tagline equally.

After following your blog link, I WAS surprised that the Telegraph's article wasn't much more complete in its story. Regarding a past blog in which YOU wrote about newspapers vs. new-age digital media, simply there are too many points of view which now promotes the cliff-hanger mentality for NOTHIN YET...Stay-Tuned syndrome.

This type of journalism has become predominate in the MSM today. They write what they have and say it's "BREAKING NEWS" but the "story" really isn't finished. So you check back later for the update and they MAY have added a few paragraphs to the SAME article. Now the reader has to follow-up on this titillating story to be an informed public. Is this earth-shattering? Absolutely not! Life will go on!

My point is that it is so important for the MSM to get the story out there without the whole story and THAT can be dangerous as well as frustrating to people like me who is a research librarian at heart. I will chew on that bone until there is nothing left by checking other US news sources, as well as UK and Canadian news, just to see what the REAL story is.

Those promoting the book were wrong by using the word COUPLE without the discriptive word MARRIED simply because of those same people they were trying to condemn as non-believers in the sanctity of marriage. Committed (no play on words here) couples (but not married) can have the same experiences that a married couple has, so why wouldn't it occur to them to pointedly remark on it. My guess is that they thought that non-married couple would buy the book as well.

Posted by Richard, UK on September 12, 2009:

You say that you understand Harvey of New York's point; maybe you could explain it to me. What is it he finds so laughable about Britain's historic record on "religion, high profile marriage, religious tolerance, and sex in general"?

Those who know my country will also know that we are far more tolerant than most on all these matters - and certainly more tolerant than many in the USA. If that's a cause for laughter then I fear I don't see the joke.

I did, of course, see the joke about Catholic girls' prayers and it did make me smile. Oh, and I'll bet there haven't been any complaints from British readers about the posting.

---

I said I saw his point; I didn't say it was a "joke" or laughable, or even that I agreed with it. His "point" was that the Catholic church is a dying institution -- "I was once told that the last act of a dying institution is to rewrite the rule book." That you thought his bottom line was something else is telling. -rc

Posted by Chris, Australia on September 12, 2009:

I must admit when I first read the tagline, I thought you were meant the girls were praying for forgiveness - as in, sin now, pray later. I knew someone would arc up over that, even though I didn't find it offensive. However, you say you were talking about prayers such as "Oh God, I hope I'm not pregnant!" Well in that case, I like the tagline even better!

Posted by Jim, Wales on September 12, 2009:

Here in the UK there was an attempt a couple of years back to ban all jokes about religion, because they tend to inflame passions among fundamentalists, and we all know where that leads. The result was a series of protests by professional comedians and others, plus some fairly deliberate violations of the law, until the legislation got kicked into the long grass. No prosecutions, although the law is still there (unless it got eaten by mice).

I think God has a sense of humour - you only need to look at a wildebeest to see that - so shouldn't His self-appointed interpreters/servants manage it as well?

Posted by Jim, Casco, MI on September 12, 2009:

Whether or not Catholic girls, or those of any belief system, pray after sex is rather a moot point. What nobody seems to have picked up on is that, quite often, the prayer offered is one of thanksgiving.

Posted by Bill, USA on September 12, 2009:

"And isn't that exactly the point? Releasing the prayer to the media got attention, and led not only to sales of the book the prayer is in, it got people to think about their religion in a new light."

And this is what Randy intended with the piece, right? To help a Catholic group get the word out. Actually, Rom 6:1 comes to mind ...

---

You're being rather disingenuous, Bill. My intention was very obviously to get a laugh, and to provide a little tidbit of information to my readers. That's very, very different from the Society's intention, which is what I was talking about there. And I think you know all of that perfectly well. -rc

Posted by Tom/Dousman, WI on September 12, 2009:

I'm a Roman Catholic clergyman. Both my wife and I (I'm a Deacon and we CAN be married) thought the article was interesting, and that the tag line was TOO, TOO TRUE!!! Which made the tag line a scream. To anyone who was offended by it, LIGHTEN UP! I'm certain God has a sense of humor, you should too.

Posted by myles, Ireland on September 12, 2009:

Aw c,mon as a good irish catholic I found it funny as well - And I wholeheartedly agree with the last line of text!!

Posted by Rachel, New York on September 12, 2009:

To answer the question from an earlier post-er...no, Jews do not have a prayer or other text for sex (not before, during, nor after) despite having a prayer for everything else.

Posted by Paul, Pennsylvania on September 12, 2009:

Perhaps Marty never had luck with such girls and is envious of you?

I'm laughing that the Catholic girls out your way behave like the ones in Philadelphia.

Posted by André, Canada on September 12, 2009:

I think that the funniest part of this article is the society's name. Now, there's an oxymoron! I don't, however, understand "they may have gotten pregnant by having sex without using (as the church demands) any sort of birth control?" I always thought that the only birth control accepted by the church was a prayer (i.e. the rhythm method). Finally, for catholic girls of my generation, the only prayer they would normally recite after sex would be along the lines of «Thank god this filthy deed is finally over». I'm talking about when grade schools students were segregated along gender lines the better for the nuns to brainwash their victims along different lines than the lay brothers would brainwash their charges.

Posted by Mike from Dallas on September 13, 2009:

I thought it was obvious that God has a sense of humor. With the spectacle of the human race, it's either that or cry over the failure of his massive experiment. I don't think God is crying. I'm reminded of a line from Fleetwood Mac:

"When I talk to God, I knew he'd understand;
He said 'Sit right here and I'll be your guiding hand.
But don't ask me what I think of you;
I might not give the answer that you want me to.'"

Posted by Sue, Georgia on September 13, 2009:

I'm so old that we had to pray after sex even if we weren't Catholic! Our only birth control was prayer.

Posted by Michael, Modi'in, Israel on September 14, 2009:

Firstly, I am not Catholic, but I found your tag-line to be in poor taste or even offensive when I first read it. To me it sounded that you were implying that Catholic Girls are promiscuous, although I now see that this wasn't your intended meaning.

With regard to Colleen's comment: "...I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong... I believe it's a long-standing Jewish tradition to pray this Psalm as spouses before and during relations on the Sabbath. The imagery is quite evocative."

As an Orthodox Jew, I can say that sex is encouraged within marriage and regarded as a Holy act (not "Dirty" or "Naughty") and an important part of a healthy relationship.

As Colleen mentioned, sex is particularly encouraged on the Sabbath when in general people are more relaxed as they don't have to rush out to work, and a Husband and Wife have the opportunity to enjoy each others company. However I've never heard of reciting a Psalm or prayer before or during sex.

It would be inappropriate as Jews only pray while they are fully dressed (including head covered), which is not normally the case during sex.

(There is a common practice to read the Song of Songs at the beginning of the Sabbath, but this is not related to anything that may, or may not, happen in the bedroom later that evening.)

Posted by Randi Melbourne on September 14, 2009:

Why don't you ask him, if you are truly curious about what upset him and not just using him as grist for your mill.

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1) There was no reply, and 2) All letters to the editor are grist for the mill. That's why publications accept them. -rc

Posted by Greg, Lexington KY on September 14, 2009:

The line is funny and not just to non-Catholics. The fact is that despite the church's injunctions, Catholics and non-Catholics use birth control (and get abortions) and roughly the same rate. So I am certain that there are plenty of Catholics who recognize the humor in the awkward situation of girls growing up Catholic. What really makes this funny is that everyone, Catholic or not, except those with their heads in the sands of time, can see that there is something fundamentally wrong with at least the way the church conveys its message (although many would say with the message itself).

Thanks as always. I don't always agree with your responses and rants and I don't always think the logic is sound. However in a world where too many arguments are conducted by appeals to unchallengable declarations or popular appeal, it is nice to see your arguments are always rationally constructed and I wish those who disagreed would do the same.

Posted by Guilherme, Brazilian but subscribing and writing from France on September 14, 2009:

First off, congratulations on such a long-lived internet endeavour that never let quality fall even one tiny bit. You deliver excellent material, and I've already put True-a-Day on my blog to help spread the word (I'm not a premium subscriber, so that's the least I could do).

I'm writing to say I was quite surprised by the outcome of the "On your knees" story. Not surprised by the reaction you wrote about - that was actually quite tame compared to other feedback I know you've had along the years. We can always count on someone to burst up in flames when sex and religion are put together, no matter how, no matter by whom. People might dislike the whole subject, dislike the tagline because they can read into it that you've had sex with Catholic girls, or even dislike the fact that you put "purify their intentions" in quotes and they thought it sounded ironic.

No, what surprised me is how the Catholic Truth Society itself dealt with the "media amusement" - which, no doubt, must have gone sometimes beyond mere amusement into obvious ridicule.

I'm not at all a religious person, and the very title of this society is enough to set off many alarms in my head, but getting "people to think about their religion in a new light", as you said, is in my book ALWAYS a good thing, no matter what religion or faction of religion you belong to, no matter how religious you are (that's right, it goes for me too: I should always think about my non-religiousness in new lights). So hats off to them, and many thanks to you for adding new colours to the way I think about other people's religion(s).

You know, maybe Marty just meant that not ALL the Catholic girls you've known ALWAYS said a prayer after sex. That's about the only thing that could be false in there. :)

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But he would have been really upset if I pointed out they prayed during sex -- the "Oh my god!" joke. As I think you realized, the quoted portion is not to show irony, it's to indicate a direct quote. -rc

Posted by Colleen, Bound Brook NJ on September 14, 2009:

My thanks to Michael from Israel! This is why I read TRUE and respect my fellow readers - I knew there was a good chance I was wrong, and Michael set me straight, and did it in such a gentlemanly fashion I felt good about it and learned something new. Now I won't ever make that same mistake again,and I can cite Michael as my source when I tell the correct version. My thanks, kind Sir! And to you Randy, for allowing us this forum.

I still think the original joke is funny; a Catholic female I pray before, during and after, for a wide range of reasons and always have, depending on life stage and circumstances. Youngsters begin by praying not to be caught by the parents; now at my age we pray not to be caught by our adult children....

Posted by Mark, Wales on September 15, 2009:

I ask Marty and all those who like to throw accusations at your articles one question.

Why are you so happy to read, and presumably laugh at, the mistakes made by others, but not accept that mistakes made by the people or organisations that you care about will be humorous to others?

Posted by kidda, uk on September 15, 2009:

Maybe the annoyance was that he feels your tagline implies catholic girls pray after sex to not conceive whereas, as a catholic, they should consider that to be god's will and they shouldn't be praying against god's will.

If that's his reason then i could see it as being offensive to him but i don't think he can claim your tagline to be false or crude.

Posted by Carol "CJ"....ID at the moment on September 15, 2009:

I thought the quote "...a positive connection between the physical and the spiritual is a new idea to many...." referred to sex not just religion.

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The way I took it is the connection between sex (physical) and religious beliefs (spiritual), and I think that's how they meant it. -rc

Posted by David Dooks, Burlington, MA on September 15, 2009:

What I don't get (and I'm not Catholic), why does a bunch of old, celibate men feel they know what should or should not be done anywhere surrounding the act of sex.

Considering that the Catholic church is one of the largest, if not THE largest, Christian sects in the world, and they continue to be the largest through procreation, why should they care what a married couple say, think or do before another Catholic is conceived? Through the "act" the Church gets another life to ultimately eat one of their wafers,which ultimately keeps the church going. I would think they would be urging their parishioners to don't think about it just get it on!

As to the reader, those who cry "foul" the loudest are usually the ones who are deepest into the act they are railing against. Or does that only pertain to politics?

Posted by Dan from Keene, NH on September 15, 2009:

I grew up Catholic and went to a Catholic school and, frankly, the girls I went to school with were all conditioned to be uptight and guilt ridden about sex -- as were the boys. All I can say is if it weren't for protestant girls I would probably NEVER have had sex. Thank you Martin Luther!

Posted by JM, Dallas on September 15, 2009:

I can add that I used to pray after sex when I was a Baptist, so Catholics aren't the only ones.

Posted by Derek from New Mexico on September 15, 2009:

I don't think that anyone has mentioned yet, that married people also have reasons to pray for non-pregnancy after sex. I suppose the word "girl" implies unmarried, although not absolutely.

Many teenagers of both sexes and all religions spend some of their time praying before sex. "Begging" before sex also occurs. But I guess that praying for an opportunity to have sex is a bit different from what the Society had in mind.

And now that I think about it, praying for sex happens within marriage, too. And among single older people. (Not that I would have any personal experience with that).

Posted by Jim, GA on September 15, 2009:

Two comments: Billy Joel said, "You Catholic girls start much too late", but once they start they make up for their years of being repressed!

I read in the newsgroups years ago about some guys visiting the infamous bar/brothels of Tijuana Mexico. They brought a Caucasian woman with them who wanted to visit the brothel. She reported that when the young lady finished with her customer, she would light a candle in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary and say a prayer. Apparently there was some sort of chapel area in the bathroom of the bar. The women were apparently praying for forgiveness for doing what they felt they had to do to earn a living.

Posted by Ron Pittsburgh PA on September 15, 2009:

What is it that Ray used to say over on the old "Joke A Day" web page?

"Everybody gets a turn in the barrel. Today it was your turn. (Stuff) happens; get over it."

Posted by Marty, New York on September 15, 2009:

I am the Marty who sent the e-mail to you. I did not object to the summary, which was accurate, but to the tag. As others already have observed, it has implications that Catholic girls pray after (illicit) sex, asking that they not get pregnant or contract a sexually transmitted disease.

I was not angry about the remark, just disappointed. That's why I gave my e-mail the subject line, "A lamentable lapse on your part".

I would think that people who ignore the Bible's explicit teaching the sexual intercourse is only for a man and a woman who are married to each other probably would ignore the teaching, not mentioned in the Bible, that contraception is against the will of God, a teaching which a hundred years ago most Protestant churches still taught along with the Catholic Church. Contrary to what Mike said, the Catholic does not prohibit contraceptives because contraceptives thwart the will of God. The Catholic Church *teaches* that contraception is a misuse of God's gift of sex. If it were a matter of Church law the Church would have the authority to change it.

One obvious, although not significant because it was just part of the joke,false element in the tag, is your claim to know what all the Catholic girls you have even known say after sex. There is no way you could know that, unless you were using "known" in the "Biblical sense".

Although I dated when I was younger I never married, so I am not a paranoid father worried about my daughters. The suggestion that I am looks like a form of what C. S. Lewis called "Bulverism".

---

A joke is a joke because it is funny. It is generally not considered a 100% expression of truth since that wouldn't be funny. But elements of truth? Yeah: that is when it starts to really hit home and be funny. So, your complaint boils down to that the tagline is "false" because in your opinion, it's not 100% "true". Of course it isn't. But it's "true enough" that 99.99% of the readership understood it fully as a reflection of what a portion of the population does think and do.

You replied to a number of comments other readers made, but didn't address one of the most important, by Mark in Wales: "Why are you so happy to read, and presumably laugh at, the mistakes made by others, but not accept that mistakes made by the people or organisations that you care about will be humorous to others?" Even if you don't post a reply to that, I hope you will spend some time thinking about that question. -rc

Posted by Linda, North Carolina on September 16, 2009:

I was born in Oklahoma but raised in an Italian Polish neighborhood in Detroit. I was the only Protestant girl in the neighborhood. I was also the only girl who didn't "have" to get married, because I was smart enough to use protection when I had premarital sex. All by Catholic friends had sex but were forbidden to use contraception, thus, they ALL had kids in less than 9 months after they got married. Okay to have sex, but not okay to protect yourself? God will get you for that!

Posted by Jon, Ohio on September 16, 2009:

One of the things I've noticed is when you 'pick on' a certain group, you inevitably get at least one person that lodges a complaint, but that same person will say nothing when you are picking on someone else.

My first reaction to the story as I read it was "What a waste of effort on their part!", which was followed by me laughing out loud after I read your tag line. I'm glad I decided to read your blog entry on this though! I now see that it's all working out to be a positive thing. Maybe I will even try to get a copy of that book now.

BTW, I'm Catholic, have been a long time reader, and I have never been offended by anything you have ever written.

Next time someone calls you a liar, just clench your fists together, throw your head back, look up at the ceiling and yell: "KHAAAAAN!"...works for me (and it really confuses the crap out them if they happen to be calling you a liar to your face!). Of course, writing a blog entry about it is also a good way of expressing yourself ;-).

You should email that guy an image of a GOOHF card...sounds like he needs it.

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You're a long-time reader, a Catholic, and have never been offended by anything I wrote? I'm truly sorry, Jon: I promise to try harder. -rc

Posted by Guy in Big Rock, TN on September 16, 2009:

Not all that log of a time reader, just a couple of years, but I have also never been offended by anything you have written. Disagreed with your point of view? Of course. Done some thinking because of something you have written? Often.

Your tag-line reminds me of a line in an old Rusty Warren comedy album: "Saturday night the girls go out and sow their wild oats, and on Sunday go to church and pray for a crop failure." Says about the same thing you did, but she had a Vegas audience laughing their heads off.

Marty, take a chill pill, build a bridge and get over it. I'm also Catholic, or I was until the disagreement I had with the Church's teachings about conception came to a head, and what Randy said about "All the Catholic girls I've ever known always said a prayer after sex," really holds true for me also. Especially when I was in high school and we all thought it mattered.

---

Yes, the Rusty Warren joke (which I hadn't heard before) says the same thing in a different way. I would never expect anyone to agree with everything I've ever said, nor to think every tagline is funny (especially since not every one is meant to be funny!) But I'm gratified that I can make you think; that's more important to me than making you laugh. -rc

Posted by Marty, New York on September 16, 2009:

You said to me, "You replied to a number of comments other readers made, but didn't address one of the most important, by Mark in Wales: 'Why are you so happy to read, and presumably laugh at, the mistakes made by others, but not accept that mistakes made by the people or organisations that you care about will be humorous to others?' Even if you don't post a reply to that, I hope you will spend some time thinking about that question. -rc" I can and sometimes do find them funny, but laughing at (alleged) mistakes isn't what I was objecting to.

I think that at least part of the problem is that you, understandably, see your tag as meaning whatever it was you intended it to mean. I understood it differently, as did others who posted the same interpretation, at least as one possible one, before I posted. I objected to your tag as I understood it.

Incidentally, you mentioned an item you posted some years ago about a book about sex written by a rabbi. You said your tag was ribald but it did not provoke any complaints. That's irrelevant because I was not objecting to ribaldry. Your tag to that news item was not defamatory. If someone else, learning of the rabbi's book, had written something like, "Those Jews will write any kind of filth for money," a lot of people would have objected, and rightly so.

Since there has been so much misunderstanding about this item I think I'd better state explicitly that I am not saying that what you wrote is at the same level of offensiveness as my hypothetical anti-Semitic comment.

---

Thanks for your care in making the comparison. Perhaps both comparisons (yours, and mine with the "Kosher Sex story from 10 years ago) are of limited value, though. Let's keep with the current situation. I'm sorry you were offended by the tagline. I did, and do, think it was funny, and so do most readers, and I don't feel it is "defamatory". That doesn't mean you (and surely some number of others) "shouldn't" be offended, but I'll urge that you place it in context: it's one of more than 500 stories to roll off my fingers this past year, and more have already come along since. If you don't like it, I acknowledge that and ask you to move on, as the publication, and life, already has. -rc

Posted by Mike from Dallas on September 16, 2009:

"That is not only false, crude, and offensive, it is an obvious, kneejerk response that would occur to many people looking for a cheap shot."

Marty, I'm not inclined to debate you. As someone else said, get a life and move on. My comment is for those who will inevitably follow you.

False? All the Catholic women *I'VE* ever known... All, what 2 of them? 5? 20? For those particular ones, very true, not false.

Crude? Subjective. Lots of taglines are crude by someone's interpretation. Offensive? Same qualification. The only way to avoid ever offending someone is to never, ever express a thought at any time in your life.

Kneejerk reaction? Do Catholic girls carry such a reputation that it's so reflexive? Sounds like a Catholic problem, not a problem of somebody else stating it again.

Cheap shot? Aha! Every punchline to a joke, every tagline to a story about human foibles is a cheap shot.

So we have false, crude, offensive, kneejerk, and cheap shot, which applies to nearly every story posted here. What made you take exception to only one? No need to answer; the question is posed to everyone who feels singled out for insult by an innocuous tagline.

Posted by Adam, Madison, WI on September 17, 2009:

My intent with this question isn't in anger or frustration, but what about this prayer to purify intentions is so weird? The recent news of a couple having sex in a dumpster is truly weird, and I can imagine it will be in one of your future newsletters. But when a religious denomination (and we're not talking about fanatical religious denominations such as the Islam that some people believe the fake teachings about suicide bombings in the name of Allah will send you to paradise) simply releases a prayer for God's will to be carried out after sex has occurred, and for the fidelity between a man and woman, why is this so weird? After reading so many reader comments about what they *think* the Catholic Church believes, or what they disagree about, isn't this the exact reason this prayer was released for? Everyone has their own definition of weird, but I'm curious what made this weird enough to write about in the first place. Thanks.

---

I'm not sure I'd describe it as "weird", but it so clearly lent itself to a number of jokes that it begged for comment. I frankly think sex is weird, but even more so what humans will go through to get it. Like, say, finding a nice private dumpster for the deed.... -rc

Posted by Paul in Boston on September 17, 2009:

I think Randy brings up a very good issue that I, frankly, hadn't recognized in my own actions until very recently. We, the consuming public, have a growing tendency toward blurring the distinction between audience and speaker and demanding accountability for our emotional response to the actions of the speaker.

In Dr. Drew Pinsky's book, The Mirror Effect: How Celebrity Narcissism Is Seducing America, he details how more and more the general public is assuming a reciprocal relationship between themselves and the professionals who are paid to entertain or speak to us. Then when the professional says something or does something that we don't agree with or are offended by, we feel strongly justified in attacking them.

Jamie Kennedy also does an excellent job detailing this behavior in his movie, Heckler. The film chronicles Kennedy's attempts to confront and understand the hecklers who interrupt performers or viciously criticize their work. Kennedy repeatedly asks, "Why?" Why is it so important that a performer has to immediately know that an audience member doesn't think he's funny? And why is it so important that said audience member doesn't care whose feelings he hurts or if he ruins the night of everyone else who has bought a ticket.

Anyone who has read Randy's work would know that he's not a bigot or biased. But even if the tag line could be interpreted as a smear against Catholic girls, so what? As he's correctly pointed out, it's only one of more than 500 stories in THIS is TRUE in the past year. He doesn't owe an explanation or an apology to every person who doesn't get the joke, doesn't think it's funny, or is offended. "If you don't like it [just] move on."

Posted by Marty, New York on September 18, 2009:

Mike from Dallas writes,"Kneejerk reaction? Do Catholic girls carry such a reputation that it's so reflexive?" No, but for someone who wanted to make a joke about the publication without regard for the facts it's an obvious thing to say.

He also says, "So we have false, crude, offensive, kneejerk, and cheap shot, which applies to nearly every story posted here. What made you take exception to only one? No need to answer; the question is posed to everyone who feels singled out for insult by an innocuous tagline."

I disagree with his statement that the terms he lists apply to nearly every story posted here. I don't remember any items to which those terms would apply.

As for feeling singled out, Michael in Israel said, "Firstly, I am not Catholic, but I found your tag-line to be in poor taste or even offensive when I first read it. To me it sounded that you were implying that Catholic Girls are promiscuous, although I now see that this wasn't your intended meaning." Since he is not a Catholic he could not have felt singled out, but his reaction was similar to mine.

Michael also wrote, "As an Orthodox Jew, I can say that sex is encouraged within marriage and regarded as a Holy act (not 'Dirty' or 'Naughty') and an important part of a healthy relations." That is my understanding of the Catholic view of sex within marriage, although, since I never married, I have no personal experience of intercourse.

Speaking of "obvious", Allen said Conan O'Brien commented on the story but didn't make that joke, so it couldn't have been obvious. He ignored the possibility that O'Brien or his writers thought of it but rejected it as inappropriate.

Posted by Uncle Enore, California on September 18, 2009:

You know, besides all that, Jesus, people go out of their way to be offended about all sorts of silly shit, just like this, and I don't get it.

A sense of humor might be a good thing to acquire.

Posted by Ian, Oregon on September 22, 2009:

I've been getting your This is True email for... oh, a long time now - some years. I've always enjoyed it. I've spent many, many years reading and paying attention in general, too, and I've come to a conclusion. If something you write or the way you write it DOESN'T piss someone off, if at least every now and then, you don't get one good shitfit out of someone, you need to look at your writing or your subject matter or SOMEthing about what you're doing. I mean, with an entire COUNTRY just chock full of humorless idiots, fanatic faithful to everything from the Church of Elvis/Satan/Whoever to pink toy poodles, Copenhagen can-top jingle-dresses and Hershey's candy bars, and people just looking to be ticked about something, anything, if nobody ever gets PO'ed at you for something you write there's got to be a problem somewhere. You write to stir an emotion, hopefully humor and at least a little indignation at sheer human stupidity (and cupidity). What stirs on in this person stirs another in that one.

I guess what I'm saying is, this says you're doing a good job! If I were president and not one soul thought I was even worth killing during my entire tenure as president, I'd worry I hadn't done a good job, you know? So take a bow - here's your confirmation and an affirmation: your writing, choice of subject matter and whatever else is involved all add up to "Good"! So don't try to justify yourself, ever. Tell the jerk involved, "Thank you, I appreciate the compliment," let him fume in confusion, take your bow and motor on.

Well Done!

Posted by Neil, Cheshire, UK on September 23, 2009:

I wonder why David Dooks seems to look down on the Catholic Truth Society for encouraging a proper approach to things rather than doing what is expedient. Surely that's praiseworthy.

Also, in the very first comment, Matt suggests that those who tell people how they should live their lives while objecting to denigration of their own beliefs are practicing double standards. Leaving aside the fact that this item was about perceived defamation, not irreverence towards the practices promoted, that would be simply having the courage of their own convictions. The alternative would be "Yes, I have an opinion, but I don't agree with it."

(I'm a Protestant, if it matters.)

Posted by Tony, Japan on March 7, 2012:

I have to ask; Did you make this short url on purpose?

http://ThisIsTrue.com/d-ck

(From your twitter feed.)

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Heh! I didn't notice that. That's the short URL for this page, as assigned by my custom-built URL shortener. The shortcode (the ck part -- the "d-" part just tells my server that it is a shortcode) is simply a base-36 representation of the record ID. Fate may produce interesting results. -rc

Posted by marsha, yorktown, va on March 7, 2012:

Geez....all that over a damn joke. I think it very telling that Mr Marty says (repeatedly) that he has never been married, nor has he any acquaintance with intercourse. Perhaps he has just never SEEN the "species" in her "natural habitat" (a good Catholic girl praying that she didn't just "screw-up" her life after sex with the High School jock in the back seat of his car...) up close and "personal"...in which case, I think his outrage is more than A LOT ridiculous, and simply underscores reader's advice for him to literally "get a LIFE"...quickly!

Posted by Rhonda, Sacramento CA on March 7, 2012:

I can't believe anyone still reads your taglines while simultaneously drinking a beverage. That's really living on the edge!

Posted by Manfred, Germany on March 8, 2012:

The hypocrite! By reacting to your story like that he has clearly shown what his universe is made of: it's his own mind leading him up to such conclusions...this letter to you is actually a letter to himself -- though he doesnt realize that! ;)

Posted by Edmund, Stratford ct on March 8, 2012:

As you have concluded that this joke at the expense of Catholics has really been a service that has brought us all together, I am looking forward to some stories and jokes about Muslims. They have been underrepresented in both this is true and the jumbo jokes. A series of well chosen Muslim jokes, or Mohammed jokes, might be just the thing to defuse the major source of tension in the world, right?

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You mean like here and here and here? -rc

Posted by Edmund, Stratford, CT on March 8, 2012:

No, Randy, not like those at all. Your first link is a redneck joke (that's the category you applied to it), the second is a visual joke (nuns holding rifles), and the last is a weak pun.

In none of those three jokes are Muslim beliefs the butt of the joke, in contrast to Get On Your Knees. I'm talking about having some jokes that mock core Muslim religious beliefs, perhaps not eating pork, perhaps the holy status of Mohammed, perhaps the holy status of Mecca.

Then we could have a good laugh with our Muslim acquaintances and grow closer.

You have roughly 100 jokes categorized as "religion" in Jumbo Jokes, and I just read more than half of them. Only three even mention Muslims. Some of the jokes are pretty funny. Catholic, Jewish and Protestant beliefs all get to be the butt of the jokes, but not the Muslim beliefs. Why is that?

Perhaps you could redo "Religious Tolerance" with a Sunni and a Shia instead of two Baptists?

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"In none of those three jokes are Muslim beliefs the butt of the joke, in contrast to Get On Your Knees." Please state exactly where my story makes "Catholic beliefs the butt of the joke."

"Catholic, Jewish and Protestant beliefs all get to be the butt of the jokes, but not the Muslim beliefs. Why is that?" This is a serious question? You don't understand that Catholics, Jews, Protestants (and more) have been a part of our national consciousness for generations, while Muslims have been a fringe idea (in the national consciousness) until very, VERY recently? I'm rolling my eyes. -rc

Posted by Edmund, Stratford, CT on March 8, 2012:

Please state exactly where my story makes "Catholic beliefs the butt of the joke."

Someone already made this point upthread, but okay.

Among other things, Catholics believe (or are supposed to believe) in no sex outside of marriage, and no birth control. Your punchline, "All the Catholic girls I've ever known always said a prayer after sex" suggests that all the Catholic girls you've known were able to comply with the second requirement, but not the first. Hence, their need for prayer after sex, presumably as birth control. The girls' failure to be true to be true to all their Catholic beliefs is the essential kernel of the "humor" here. That is "exactly" how Catholic beliefs are the butt of the joke. Either the beliefs are foolish, or the believers are.

Certainly your commenters have validated this interpretation, that's how they understood your joke also.

I don't agree with Marty, who started you on this conversation. I wasn't offended by this item, though I also didn't think it was funny, or nearly up to your usual standards.

I am struck by how many groups have become "off limits." People of faith and white businessmen are left as Hollywood's favorite punching bags. Commercials feature the doofus dad and the wise mom, who knows just what product will solve the problem.

Randy, the reason you don't do Muslim jokes is not because they are a "fringe idea" (and don't let CAIR hear you say that). The reason you don't do Muslim jokes is that you can't, not without the grave risk of making yourself their target.

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1) "The girls' failure to be true to be true to all their Catholic beliefs is the essential kernel of the 'humor' here." You just proved my point, not yours. My story did not make "Catholic beliefs the butt of the joke," rather their own actions did. 2) Keep my words in context. That Muslims were "a fringe idea (in the national consciousness) until very, VERY recently" is absolutely true -- so much so that you didn't even attempt to argue the point. -rc

Posted by James, Texas on March 9, 2012:

So, I think I see where "Edmund, Stratford, CT" is making his error: his is just a more-specific version of the tired old "Randy is anti-Christian" bullshit. Which is deliciously ironic considering how many fundie Christians think Catholics are "not Christians" themselves.

Then, with that flawed premise, "that's why he rags on Catholics" is quickly extended to "he's afraid to do the same to Muslims."

What crap! As a long-time subscriber, I remember many examples! Even though Randy is very obviously correct in that Islamicism has only come to the forefront of the American consciousness only quite recently. And he has done it in (and this is the important part) the exact same sense that he has "made fun of" Catholics in this particular story. Not by making fun of their religious beliefs, but usually by gently pointing out that, in fact, Muslims don't always follow their actual beliefs, just like Catholics, Baptists, Presbyterians, Methodists (etc.) don't always follow theirs.

"Edmund" dismisses the "72 Virgins" jokes Randy pointed to, yet they make fun of (a subset of) actual fundamentalist Muslim beliefs, so in that sense he's gone much farther there than he did here.

But don't take my word for it. I easily found several examples of what I'm saying in the archives in this very site:

  • Way back in 1995, No Handsome Princes made fun of Islamic wedding ceremonies to marry frogs to each other in order to make it rain.
  • In Paper or Plastic?, Randy pointed out how the Taliban's effort to "impose pure Islamic law" in Afghanistan is inconsistent in a highly amusing way.
  • His Mr, Mrs, Mstrss (a rather brilliant title!) points out the hypocrisy in Islamic marriage practices in Egypt. (Similarly in You've Got Male!, in Dubai.)
  • In Equal Opportunity, Randy gives space to atheists trying to counter Muslims working to force their religion on others in Norway. The tagline to that story proves the thought-provoking, social commentary aspect of This is True goes way back.
  • "Edmund" isn't paying attention if he doesn't think Randy has huge balls to publish a story like Gender Parity.
  • And surely the same sort of obliviot who is offended by the gentle story on this page would be similarly offended by Obscene and Not Heard!

I could easily go on -- other hits came up on my search of this site -- but I think everyone gets the idea. Except, probably, for "Edmund, Stratford, CT". Randy has spent years proving his courage in taking on any idea. I'll just bet "Edmund" doesn't have the courage to admit he was wrong, and to apologize.

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I considered looking for some examples on this site, too, when I pulled up the jokes on Jumbo Joke, but I was too tired to bother. Thanks for the great and specific examples, which I spaced out into a list to make them more readable, as well as your comments. (James is a long-time Premium subscriber.) -rc

Posted by Don, Florida on March 9, 2012:

The prayer book is available here for about US$ 12.00 including shipping.

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I see Amazon isn't carrying it themselves but you can get it there new for (at the moment) $3.99, plus probably that much shipping. -rc

Posted by Dave, California on March 9, 2012:

Reading Edmund's rants, I come to one inescapable conclusion: he's scared to death, and figures you must be too. That's projection, not rational thought. He buys into the "Muslims are evil" propaganda and can't imagine that you're still alive after "making jokes" about them, therefore it's impossible that you've done so.

What a sorry example of seeing things as they are, when it's all published on your web site already!

We've had avowed Christians that go over to Iraq and Afghanistan and started wars on flimsy pretexts ("Eek! Weapons of Mass Destruction!"), and even though that's been revealed as a lie, they're now rattling sabers over Iran and Syria, among others. To use their logic, we must conclude that therefore, all Christians are evil! Because that's exactly what people like Edmund seem to insist we believe: some fringe Muslim maniacs want to destroy us, so therefore all Muslims are evil.

Yet the vast majority of Christians love peace, just as they preach. The same is true of Muslims. Yet people like Edmund are so brainwashed that they cannot see reality, even as you demonstrate that reality again and again, as James so helpfully has pointed out.

You are making a difference, Randy. The great silent majority is taking all of this in. We can see how stupid Edmund's thought processes are, and the calm rationality of your points. Keep it up. People are slowly, but surely, waking up. At some point, that will build up until The People take the government back from two corrupt political parties. May it happen before we are bankrupt.

Posted by Bill, NSW Australia on March 10, 2012:

Where do I start?

As a free subscriber for some years, I've always admired Randy's even-handedness. Be you Jew,Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or atheist, do or say something stupid and he'll nail you.

This subject really got me thinking (as have so many others) -- of course Catholic girls "do it"! So do born-again Christian girls, Methodist and Presbyterian girls, and girls who have no conception (pun unintended) of "God" whatsoever. Muslim girls will "do it" too, if they can shake off the male family member who must accompany them everywhere. Let's face it, sex is a primal urge that exists in all races and religions.

Criticising those who report or comment on this state of affairs is a perfect example of "shooting the messenger". Randy, please keep on being the messenger.

This discussion decided me, even though cash is tight, to upgrade to a premium subscription: I want to help ensure you continue.

Posted by Michael, Vienna, IL on March 10, 2012:

As a cradle Catholic (who took a 16 year hiatus from Holy Mother Church), and a former teacher in a Catholic School and currently active parish member, I have to say that some of Randy's comments have made me cringe a bit from time to time, but I've never felt that there was malicious intent. His willingness to point out the foibles of Catholics as well as other Christian churches and other religions has always been in the spirit of humorous iconoclasm (an attitude that has consistently gotten me in dutch with the more conservative members of the Church.)

I totally agree with the comment and tagline of the original article. And I have to add, I cringe a lot more when I see what some promulgate in the name of the Church than I ever have at Randy's comments.

All this to say, keep up the good work. If we can't poke fun at ourselves now and again, all is truly lost....

---

Or, as put a bit more crudely by another social commentator -- Dennis Miller: "We should question it all; poke fun at it all; piss off on it all; rail against it all; and most importantly, for Christ's sake, laugh at it all. Because the only thing separating holy writ from complete bullshit is your perspective." -rc

Posted by denny, NW WA on March 10, 2012:

I read somewhat over half the comments and one point I didn't see made -- and obviously, Marty didn't think of -- some Catholic (and non-catholic) girls will be praying that they 'caught', rather than the obvious other way.

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Excellent point. -rc

Posted by Charlie-TEXAS on March 10, 2012:

I have always believed in the use of humor to bring into the limelight different 'problems' or conception of 'problems' whether an actual problem or a problem in someone's mind. For the most part, it has worked more than it hasn't as it 'forces' people to look at it in a non-confrontational manner. That being said, I have had Catholics in my family for more years than I want to admit to. Almost married a Catholic. Never acted any different around them telling the same jokes. Never had a problem. My line was always to the extent that I loved dating Catholics because any and everything was alright as long as they went to confession afterwards. Got a few groans but never got anyone POd about that line. Guess I just wasn't trying hard enough. Keep up the good work Randy. Hilite of the day when I open your column.

Posted by Mike from Dallas on March 10, 2012:

Remembering all the Blue laws from the early 1960's, such as GA bars being open until 2am, EXCEPT on Saturday night when they closed at midnight. Because a minute afterward, it was SUNDAY. Even way back then, we used to joke about us Christians sowing our wild oats on a Saturday night, then praying for a crop failure on Sunday morning.

Funny that, me being both an Irishman and a Texan, we enjoy both Irish jokes and Texas jokes, because we're big enough, sure enough, to have a good laugh about ourselves. Same with being Christian. The repertoire of Jesus jokes I could tell you would send you cringing to the church basement to avoid the lightning bolt you'd be certain was coming.

But like Irishmen and Texans, REAL Christians are not afraid of what other people might think of them. MY Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, does have a sense of humor and is big enough, sure enough, to indulge us our moments of mortal humor. The only people who scream in impotence about blasphemy and criticism of the Christians are those who aren't all that sure of themselves in the first place. O ye of little faith.

Posted by Lynne, Troutdale, OR on March 10, 2012:

I thought the Virginians joke was really really funny and I've never noticed Randy Cassingham fearing poking fun at anything.

Posted by Brad, Cooktown Australia on March 11, 2012:

I love how religious debates never get old :) . Two years and this snippet is still a rollicking read!

Posted by Terrell, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on March 12, 2012:

I didn't find the tagline to be exactly offensive, though to a person who thinks that a commitment to one partner per lifetime would benefit lots of folks, it certainly pricks a sore spot. But it did come off as, well, "off" to me for some reason, which surprised me because I pride myself in having the ability to laugh at myself and even at the inconsistencies of the institutions I hold dear (and no, I'm not catholic). After thinking about it for a while, I realized that it seems a little off to me because it seems a bit latently sexist. No Randy, I'm not saying that you *meant* it that way, but that it seems to use the promiscous woman double standard as a canvas for its humor. So though I occasionally find Randy's taglines, even the more ribald ones, coffee-projectile inducing, this one I just didn't. It comes off to me as a bit more of a purile, "yeah, and that's what she said too" kind of joke.

I will also mention (futilely, I'm sure) to those of you who get so offended by Randy's jabs at various sacred cows -- haven't you yet realized that when he writes a potentially controversial story like this one, he's just *itching* for the first indignant letter so that he can post his response? If you're anything like me, Randy, you're probably already formulating your riposte before you even get the letter.

This is Randy's blog folks. You expect him not to get the last word?

Keep writin', Randy. I may not like everything you say, but I'll always appreciate that you think before saying it.

---

Thanks, Terrell. Yes, I often provoke, and wait for a response. Sometimes I'm disappointed, sometimes I'm surprised because I'm not actually trying to provoke. But no, I don't formulate a response before it comes, since I never know what direction it will come from. (The only caveat to this is, I already know where I was coming from!) It's a lot more fun to me to just sit down and see what comes out of my fingers on the keyboard, which is pretty much how I write TRUE in the first place. -rc

Posted by Thomas, Marshall, MN on March 12, 2012:

After 12 times of trying to comment, I just boiled it down to this:

Edmund does not get it.

The rest of us do.

Posted by Tom, Colorado Springs on March 12, 2012:

As a religious person (who decided a long time ago to LIVE by faith instead of trying to convince others to do so) who takes prayer and prayerS very seriously, I personally think the prayer may not be a bad idea.

As a long-time TRUE reader, I also think your tagline is great!

Or perhaps I've just decided that your comments are never directed towards a specific person or class and will therefore never offend me? :)

Posted by Neil, Cheshire, UK on March 13, 2012:

If, like denny, we want to look for innocent interpretations of the tagline, it's not hard to imagine married Catholics (although calling married women 'girls' might seem inappropriate) obeying their Church's instructions in all respects, yet praying that (God willing) their family wouldn't grow any further.

When I originally saw the story in the newsletter, my response was totally different: I simply thought "typical" and moved on without any further (or over-) reaction). That "typical" can itself be taken two ways: Marty may to some extent have a point in that calling upon a stereotype refers to something that is "obvious"; but to see Randy remarking on hypocrisy regardless of its context is entirely typical.

Posted by Imran, Saudi Arabia on March 25, 2012:

I refer to the genleman who says that he doen't do muslim jokes for some fear. To tell you the truth there is a small prayer which muslims may or may not utter before getting in bed with their spouse. That small prayer is not meant to give a religious colour to otherwise simple straight forward lovemaking. In any case, we muslims do crack jokes about our religious scholars, especially those who preach what they do not practice, and to hell with anyone ho is offended by such jokes. The only human beings that we truly cherish and respect beyond any one's imagination are the prophets, ie moses, soloman, jesus, abraham, ismail, isaac, and Muhammad and many others which I have been unable to remember. We make it a point not to crack jokes about the pope also. But anyone else is fair game.

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Not sure why not the pope, but if it makes you uncomfortable, then that's a good reason. Thanks much for your point of view here. -rc

Posted by Jeannie, Ohio on March 26, 2012:

Where I live there are so many Catholics that we joke about my high school alma mater being unofficially Catholic, and the tag-line rang "true" to me -- although it wasn't just the Catholic girls.

There aren't a lot of jokes poking fun of Islam because we don't know enough about Islam. The Catholic/Baptist/Methodist jokes are "insider" jokes and when it comes to Islam, we are outsiders. It takes a large measure of familiarity to "crack wise" on a subject. Of course, having a sense of humor helps. ;)

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