Monday, April 27, 2009

Graceland En Route to St Louis & Back

Over the weekend we drove to St. Louis to celebrate my Uncle Greg and Aunt Margaret's 40-year-wedding anniversary. I haven't seen them in many years, and most of my relatives there had never met Gilgamesh. We had a great time. Here's the whole group with Greg and Margaret seated in the center:
Along the way we stopped in Memphis to see Graceland, Cape Girardeau to see the river mural, and then at the St. Louis Arch.
I had been to Graceland about 10 times before, mostly when I was in my 20's. I think it does a great job of representing America, for better or for worse. It's one of the few places I can hang out and feel pretty thin.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Quetzalcoatl and Jesus and 2012

It was Apocalyptic literature day in my Intro to Biblical Studies class. We got to talking about this popular theory that the world is going to end on December 21, 2012 because of the Mayan calendar. Supposedly this winged serpent deity Quetzalcoatl is going to come back and wreak havoc. It's all baloney, but it will be fun. My students can be very superstitious.

I've been doing some research on Quetzalcoatl. Turns out Mormons believe that Mayan descriptions of Quetzalcoatl are really talking about Jesus who was visiting the Americas way back when. The Latter Day Prophet John Taylor writes "The story of the life of the Mexican divinity, Quetzalcoatl, closely resembles that of the Savior; so closely, indeed, that we can come to no other conclusion than that Quetzalcoatl and Christ are the same being."

Me, well no offense, but I sort of don't see the connection. Perhaps a visual aid might help distinguish the two for the prophet Taylor.

Here are two pictures, this one is Jesus:

Here is another picture. This one is the winged serpent deity Quetzalcoatl.

Sure they both have fingers sticking up on their right hands, but I think they're two totally separate dudes. And finally, I'm pretty sure neither one is showing up on earth just a few days before Christmas in 2012. At least I hope not. Anyway, I plan on coming up with a brilliant scheme to cash in on the upcoming Quetzalcoatl immanent doom event. Maybe a special Jesus arrow to defeat the Mayan god???

Archbishop Hughes Boycotting Xavier's Graduation

Today we learn that Archbishop Hughes will be boycotting Xavier's graduation because of his disapproval of our choice of Donna Brazile as the graduation speaker. Here's a link to Hughes' letter to Xavier president Norman C. Francis. I think it's a fairly well written letter, but I'm troubled by the 2004 document which declares that Catholic institutions "should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions." Do they think that all future speakers at Catholic universities need to be pro-life? Hughes also points out that "contraceptive practice actually leads men to be less responsible toward women." Are we to believe that women are treated with more respect in societies that don't have access to birth control?

I can't wait until June, when this graduation speaker/abortion issue will be but a memory. Mostly I see the vocal disdain for graduation speakers such as Brazile and Obama as keeping conservative Catholic donors happy, so it's about money, and also it's a wedge issue used to attract media attention. Sadly that part is working. May 17th in South Bend is going to be a circus.

What It Takes to Miss Jazzfest

We're driving to St. Louis Friday the celebrate the 40-year-wedding-anniversary of my aunt and uncle. I haven't seen some of these relatives in quite some time. Amazingly, my aunts and uncles and cousins have never met Gilgamesh. If we weren't doing that, we'd be celebrating the 40-year-priesthood-anniversary of our dear and favorite priest, Phillip. And if we weren't doing that, we'd be going to Jazzfest. Sadly, Therese will be in Chicago next weekend, so this year she won't get to go to Jazzfest at all. Me on the other hand, I plan on going every day next weekend.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Is Catholicism A One Issue Religion?

When I first heard that Donna Brazile was going to be the featured speaker at Xavier University of Louisiana's commencement, I was thrilled. I'm a big fan of hers. But trouble is brewing. Several Catholic news organizations, including, are critical of the choice. Notice the headline: "Pro-Abortion Political Activist to Speak at Xavier University."

The article goes on to state that Xavier University of Louisiana is Jesuit, which its not, and then it quotes Patrick Reilly, the President of the Cardinal Newman Society (the group trying to get Obama banned from Notre Dame): “Given New Orleans Archbishop Alfred Hughes’ strong condemnation of Notre Dame’s honor of pro-abortion President Barack Obama, it is surprising and saddening that Xavier University would honor a prominent figure opposed to Catholic moral teachings."

While I have never met Donna Brazile, I will go out on a limb and claim that she doesn't advocate abortion. I've never met anyone who did. Instead, Brazile supports a woman's right to choose. And not one of our graduates and none of our faculty are in total compliance with Catholic moral teachings, so why focus obsessively on this one issue? I for one thought the Pope would have been better suited to talk about the problems of poverty on his recent trip to Africa instead of trying to abolish condoms.

So outspoken Catholic moral dogma idealogues, where were your protests back in 2001 when George W. Bush was Notre Dame's commencement speaker? Or do things like advocating war and capital punishment no longer go against the realm of Catholic moral teachings?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Washing Feet on Craigslist

First a little background: Rahab is a biblical prostitute mentioned in Joshua 2 and James 2:25, and biblical authors at times used the word "foot" as a euphemism for a penis (e.g. Isa 6:2; 7:20), and certain passages use the expression "Wash your feet" to describe sexual intercourse. Such appears to be the case in 2 Samuel 11, where David tells Uriah to go to Miss Bun in the Oven Bathsheba and "wash your feet" so he'll believe the ensuing pregnancy was caused by said "foot washing" and the real father David will be off the hook.

Fast forward 3000 years and we're in class today talking about the Letter of James chapter 3 which translates: "Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." Some students took this further explaining that an education brings with it greater responsibility. I said "Yeah, like the media is having a field day with the fact that the Craigslist Killer suspect is supposed to be med student." Well one student didn't know what Craigslist was, amazingly, and so we talked about that, and even a little bit about the erotic section of Craigslist through which the killer found his female victims. Students explained that prostitutes couldn't advertise prostitution, instead they advertised legal things like massages. Then one of my best students said it was as if Rahab would advertise "foot washing."

I was so proud.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Shut Down Comments on

Another tragedy has been unfolding these past two days in New Orleans. Two 19-year-old college students were kidnapped early Sunday morning, and just now we're learning that their dead bodies have been discovered only a few blocks from my office. The story recently appeared on, and as of now there are 78 comments. Many of them are posted by racists claiming all sorts of ignorant and hateful conclusions in the aftermath of this tragic death. While I'm an advocate for freedom of speech, I don't believe these jerks need such a large forum, a forum they haven't created but one which they leach onto. Please join me in emailing the editor of,, and ask them to take the comments down and not give their anonymous readers the opportunity to post hateful and ignorant comments on stories such as this.

I hope none of the victims' loved-ones ever have to read such vitriol.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Holy Peeps Monster Fails to Stop Buckmoth Caterpillar Plague

Like Egypt more than 3,000 years ago, New Orleans is plagued this time of year. But we don't have bloody rivers or frogs--we should be so lucky; instead we suffer stinging buckmoth caterpillars, or Hemileuca maia as I like to call them when I've been drinking. Here is a picture of the evil beast:
Because it's Passover, and because it's Holy Saturday, and because I'm the patriarch of a family of evil geniuses, today we decided to not take this plague passively. So we purchased the Caterpillar Kryptonite: Peeps:
Knowing full well that one peep would not survive a buckmoth caterpillar attack, Gilgamesh and Kalypso set to work combining the strongest elements of each Peep into a SuperPeep, sort of like Steve Austin, Frankenstein's Monster, and Robocop all in one. Here is our evil Easter laboratory:
Using pink chick peeps as feet was a no brainer, but then we went for yellow bunny body legs, with blue earless bunnies for the midsection. That was the evil genius part. Nobody would have ever thought of that. Muhaha!
In the end SuperPeep had three heads, a purple one, a yellow one in the middle, and on the other side, a blue head. In his right marshmellow hand he held an evil umbrella, in his left, a magic toothpick of insect death.
We brought the caterpillar to the Easter battle basket:
Instantly the caterpillar sprang to the jugular vein of the purple head on the peeps right, the caterpillar's left. The head came right off.
I know all about "science", so we all took detailed notes in a scientific journal.
We had to write fast though, because in 30 seconds the whole thing was over. There were peep parts everywhere. It was a horrifying marshmellowy carnage, though the smell was pleasant enough and reminded me of shmores minus the chocolate and graham.
So the caterpillar won this round, but we'll study our notes and be ready next year. As a bonus, what better pedagogical tool could anyone think of to better explain to my children the true meaning of Easter. That is of course if the Peeps tomb is empty tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Return I Will to Old Brazile

I was happy to learn that Donna Brazile will be giving the keynote address at Xavier's graduation ceremony on May 9th. She's a native New Orleanian with a giant brain and such amazing political experiences. But gasp, she's a pro-choice Catholic, and Archbishop Alfred Hughes has been making a lot of waves complaining about pro-choice Obama speaking at Catholic Notre Dame's graduation. Mind you, Hughes appeared perfectly fine sharing the stage with Obama when he addressed Xavier graduates in 2006. But if it comes to Brazile v. Hughes fist-a-cuffs on the graduation stage, nobody need fear for the students' safety, because Forest "Ghost Dog" Whitaker will also be getting an honorary degree, and he's a freakin' Samurai.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

The Loss of a Farmer's Wife

A good friend of mine in Nebraska, whom I met when my father was ill, just lost his wife. He farms in rural Nebraska, and last night they had a blizzard that cut power. Blizzards this time of year involve very wet and heavy snow, and it often breaks power lines. His wife had been ill for quite some time, and needed a constant supply of oxygen. With the power out due to the blizzard, her oxygen machine quit working, so they used oxygen bottles while my friend went to get his brother's generator. On the way he got his truck stuck in a snowbank, but somehow he got the generator to their house. They got the generator started but the electrical output was sporadic, and wound up frying circuit breakers and light bulbs. Moreover the snow kept blowing into the circuits and shorting out. Around 4 AM his wife began having difficulty breathing and she passed away shortly thereafter. Much has changed since Willa Cather wrote about Nebraska, but I'm reminded of the harsh conditions farmers face even today on the Great Plains. My prayers are with my friend, and his son, and the rest of their family. I know the poor woman suffered for so many years, and in the words of my friend she "is at peace," but death of a loved one is always a tragedy. RIP S.K.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Uncle Mike

Henry Stewart Fitzpatrick recently joined the world, and I'd like to welcome him to earth and offer my congratulations to my brother-in-law Craig and his wife Jennifier. They live in New York city. Maybe I'll call him "Yankee Henry" when he gets older.