Laws of The House of God

On the blog Wormtalk and Slugspeak I was astonished to see a word not so many people use or even know: Gomer. "Well!" quoth I, "It is time to talk about Fat Man’s Laws of the House of God!"

"But Father!" you are sure to be saying, "What does this have to do with St. Augustine? Or what prayers really say??"

The answer to that should be obvious once you get the Laws.

Samuel Shem’s book The House of God about doctors and interns at a Boston hospital in the 1970’s is my constant inspiration. Especially useful for understanding all things ecclesiastical are the Fat Man’s Laws of the House of God which I have constantly before my eyes.

Especially these days, for reasons that ought to be apparent.

Here are a few things you need to know before you get the list.

GOMER: An acronym of “Get Out of My Emergency Room”. These are patients admitted frequently with complicated but uninspiring and incurable conditions. They are sometimes called “too old to die.” GOMER applies also to patients described as “LOL in NAD” or “Little Old Lady in No Apparent Distress”, who would do better with some help at home than coming to the ER where really bad things could happen to her.

GO TO GROUND: The equivalent of “Go to turf”, which means basically being shifted off to someone else’s department.

BUN: “Blood Urea Nitrogen is test that measures the the amount of nitrogen in the blood that comes from urea (which is secreted by the liver and removed from the blood by the kidneys).

LASIX: A brand name of Furosemide which is a loop diuretic used for congestive heart failure and edema. It has also been used to prevent race horses from bleeding through the nose. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Furosemide.png

BMS: The best medical student from the Best Medical School.

And now you are ready for Fat Man’s Laws of the House of God.

Please keep in mind possible ecclesiastical connections. The (helpful interlinear commentary) is mine.

I. GOMERS DON’T DIE.
(Some people simply live and live and live against all odds and indicators.)

II. GOMERS GO TO GROUND.
(The best way to handle GOMERS is to shove them off onto someone else.)

III. AT A CARDIAC ARREST, THE FIRST PROCEDURE IS TO TAKE YOUR OWN PULSE.
(See to yourself first, after all, it’s all about you.)

IV. THE PATIENT IS THE ONE WITH THE DISEASE.
(It’s not your problem, right?)

V. PLACEMENT COMES FIRST.
(Put the problem somewhere, and figure out what the problem is later.)

VI. THERE IS NO BODY CAVITY THAT CANNOT BE REACHED WITH A #14 NEEDLE AND A GOOD STRONG ARM.
(If it’s stuck force it, if it breaks, okay, it had to be replaced anyway.)

VII. AGE + BUN = LASIX DOSE.
(Really simple solutions to really complicated problems might not work, but what the heck!)

VIII. THEY CAN ALWAYS HURT YOU MORE.
(Tell me about it.)

IX. THE ONLY GOOD ADMISSION IS A DEAD ADMISSION.
(Both the paperwork and the time required are greatly reduced.)

X. IF YOU DON’T TAKE A TEMPERATURE, YOU CAN’T FIND A FEVER.
(Like putting your hands over your own eyes in order to hide from a problem.)

XI. SHOW ME A BMS WHO ONLY TRIPLES MY WORK AND I WILL KISS HIS FEET.
XI-A. Al’s Corollary: Show me a resident who only triples my work, and I will kiss his/her feet.
(If they only screw up my life a little, I’ll be happy. Good one for Italy. Cf. Latin: Primum non nocere.)

XII. IF THE RADIOLOGY RESIDENT AND THE BMS BOTH SEE A LESION ON THE CHEST X-RAY, THERE CAN BE NO LESION THERE.
(Given what we know about their real level of competence, if they came up with something, it must be wrong.)

XIII. THE DELIVERY OF MEDICAL CARE IS TO DO AS MUCH NOTHING AS POSSIBLE.
(This both cuts down on your work load and satisfies XI at the same time.)

I am thinking that you readers could perhaps make your own connections with what we see going on in the ecclesiastical world around us.

For example, are there any parallels between, say, (cf. XIII) a BMS with a Radiology Resident looking at a problem and a Liturgy Expert with a… ex-sister in charge of the parish choir?

Is there a parallel between, say, LAW III and being faced with making a decision about Catholic politicians who support abortion?

Have at!

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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5 Responses to Laws of The House of God

  1. Tom Morgan says:

    I am a volunteer ambulance driver, and let me tell you,
    this post really fits a lot (too many!!) of our patients.
    I’m talking about the ones who call us because they are
    having breathing difficulties, then meet the ambulance
    on the street corner by their house, or they fell out of
    bed at the nursing home, and the nurse puts them back in
    bed and they go right back to sleep, but then the nursing
    staff calls us anyway, even though there is no injury
    or anything else wrong with the patient!

    May I share this with the rest of the squad? Thanks!

  2. Tom: Sure! And remember, those are Fat Man’s Laws and not Fr. Z’s Laws.

  3. Catholic Lady says:

    It has been a while since I read and thought of this book. Having worked in a hospital it was quite discussed there and some of those terms have become standard hospital jargon, especially GOMER

  4. Ok, Father, I took you at your word and “had at it”.

    Oh, by the way, I LOVE my church and my faith but I approached this
    from the standpoint of my prior life of CINO (Catholic In Name Only)

    The Dissident’s “Spirit of VII” Laws:

    I. LITURGY COORDINATORS NEVER DIE
    (their work (damage) survives LONG after they are dead–30+ years at last count!)

    II. ASSOCIATE PASTORS GO TO GROUND
    (The best way to handle those pesky Associate Pastors is to move them to another
    parish where they will be completely useless.)

    III. AT THE FIRST ALLEGATION OF SEXUAL IMPROPRIETY, BLAME YOUR PREDECESSOR
    (Even though he’s in my diocese, it’s not my problem, I did not assign him.)

    IV. THE PARISHIONERS ARE THE ONES WITH THE PROBLEMS.
    (If those bothersome Catholics would just leave me alone, rather then notify me every time they see a liturgical abuse or a priest doing something they shouldn’t, I could really improve my golf game)

    V. HIDE THE TABERNACLE.
    (There really is no “place” for it after our parish remodel so we’ll put it in
    storage for “a while”)

    VI. “THERE IS NO CATHOLIC CHURCH THAT CANNOT SPEAK TO US AND OUR LIVED
    EXPERIENCE IN THE NOW WITH A FEW ARCHITECTURAL UPDATES”
    (Architectural firm, “wreckovation” see also Dick Vosko)

    VII. DIALOG + COMMITTEE = INERTIA.
    (Why exercise my priestly authority and act decisively when we can just
    sit around and talk about it and I can look like I’m including the people
    in my thought process just like VII said, right?)

    VIII. RULES WILL HURT YOU.
    (Create your own-see also relativism.)

    IX. THE ONLY GOOD LITURGICAL DANCE IS SWINGING THE THURIBLE.
    (Both the NEAR OCCASION OF SIN and the, seemingly, endless time lost are
    greatly reduced.)

    X. IF YOU DON’T GO TO CONFESSION, YOU DON’T HAVE ANY SIN.
    (If you don’t talk about your “faults”, they don’t exist)

    XI. SHOW ME A “PASTORAL” COUNCIL WHO ONLY TRIPLES MY WORK AND I MAY
    ACTUALLY HAVE TIME TO READ ALL OF THE WORKS OF AQUINAS
    (The Chronicle of the Put-Upon Priest)

    XII. IF BOTH THE BISHOP AND THE CHANCERY SEE NO NEED FOR IMPROVEMENT
    ANYWHERE IN THE DIOCESE, THERE MUST BE SOMETHING TERRIBLY WRONG
    (self-explanatory to residents of certain west coast and midwest dioceses’)

    XIII. THE PURPOSE OF THE PARISH PRIEST IS TO DO AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE
    (Thereby, allowing for the full and active participation by the laity as
    MANDATED by VII.)

  5. Cathy: Good ones. However, regarding your “VIII. RULES WILL HURT YOU.” in reference to liturgy, I am pretty much decided that, again regarding liturgy, “THEY CAN ALWAYS HURT YOU MORE.”