Saturday, February 14, 2009

Reflections: No Joking Matter

In response to the on-going discussion of the Wednesday, February 11, 2009 post at Disputations—“A bad sign”—which has much to do with a Rod Dreher column in which Dreher likens the enjoyment of a good meal to a sacrament—I posted 1 John 2:15-16. If any of that piques your interest, go to Disputations and read it all.

Subsequently, I began reading Catholic novelist Ron Hansen’s latest work, Exiles, a fictional account of the inspiration for, and writing of, the well-known poem, “The Wreck of the Deutschland” by Roman Catholic priest (and great poet), Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ.

The novel, which I recommend, also has much to do with vocation.

Beginning on page 99, Hansen relates a joke “about a Jesuit and a Dominican who smoked cigarettes as they read their breviaries outside together. The Dominican felt scruples about the propriety of that and thought they ought to consult their Superiors. When they next got together, he was surprised that the Jesuit was still smoking. The Jesuit asked how he’d framed the question to his Superior, and the Dominican said, ‘Am I permitted to smoke while I’m praying?’ The Jesuit took another drag and said nothing. ‘Well, what did you say?’ the Dominican asked. And the Jesuit answered, ‘Am I permitted to pray while I’m smoking?’”

Ha-ha. That’s a good one.

But on second thought, isn’t the reversal of priorities upon which the punch-line of that joke depends precisely what is warned against in the lines from 1 John to which I referred above?:

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 1 John 2:15-16

Praying while smoking…hmm.