NLM: Four Bloggers Submit Dubium to Eye of the Tiber Concerning Its Status as Satire

As seen on NLM:

Four Bloggers Submit Dubium to Eye of the Tiber Concerning Its Status as Satire

Four prominent members of the Catholic blogosphere – Fr John Zuhsldorf of Fr Z’s Blog (formerly called “What Does the Prayer Really Say?”), canonist Dr Edward Peters, author of the blog In the Light of the Law, Amy Welborn of Charlotte Was Both, and Matthew Archbold of Creative Minority Report – have presented a formal request to S.C. Naoum, the author of the blog Eye of the Tiber, asking him to clarify whether the items which he posts are in fact satirical.

Although EOTT is thought by many to be a purely humorous website, it has long suffered from what is sometimes known as an “Onion problem.” This term derives from the website The Onion, (which bills itself as America’s Finest News Source,) many of whose articles have been mistaken for true news stories over the years; this has happened so often, in fact, that the Wikipedia article about The Onion has a whole subsection dedicated to the occasions on which its articles have been mistaken for actual news.

Even on its own website, EOTT says “We are proud to have recently been nominated for Best Catholic News Satire, narrowly losing out to the National Catholic Reporter, [aka Fishwrap] proving thus that, more trusted Catholic news sources aside, Eye of the Tiber is your most trusted Catholic news source.” “The confusion runs deep here,” noted Fr Z. “NCRep. (a.k.a. ‘The Fishwrap’) is the most self-serious publication outside all of Christendom. How are we supposed to take this?”

The Catholic blogosphere doesn’t get better than that.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. VexillaRegis says:

    Hilarious! And chillingly spot on: (from the article:) “As may be imagined, reactions to the publication of the dubium have varied though the world of Catholic internet journalism. One writer thought to be very close to Naoum has stated that EOTT’s satirical intent is perfectly unmistakable, needs no clarification, and has also been thoroughly clarified. He even went so far as to point out that “Naoum” is a variant of the name of the Biblical prophet Nahum, which means “consoled”, and “since the Holy Spirit is called ‘the Paraclete’, a Greek word which means ‘the consoler’, Naoum’s satirical work is obviously inspired by the Holy Spirit. To deny this is practically blasphemy, and those who don’t accept this will simply be left behind as the Church moves on to the next act of satire.””

  2. The Masked Chicken says:

    I can’t post to the New Liturgical Movement (the article appears there, not at Eye of the Tiber), so I will post, here. S. C. Naoum does not have standing in the Humor Hierarchy to resolve the issue. As a member of the Confraternity for the Doctrine of the Fatuous, it falls to this department to resolve the dubia. Using methods of multi-dimensional Formal Context Analysis and Bayesian Statistics in a field-theoretic Markov Chain model of neural output, it is possible to calculate the Kulback-Liebler divergence of the aforesaid four examples. We find sufficient divergence from the truth to establish the truth, bring that the aforesaid four examples are, indeed truthfully, not truthful and real examples of satire. While valid satire, they are not always legal satire, requiring extensive humor competence to avoid the impression of conforming to the first-order truth – a fact brought forth by the dubia.

    We, hereby, respond: affirmative to satire

    We, hereby, counsel all attempts at satire to conform to the standards established in the encyclical, Ut Illuderet.

    Given this day,


    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  3. VexillaRegis says:

    Dear Chicken, haha! I wonder though, if not Ut Illuderet was the original title of Amoris Laetitia?

  4. Thomistica says:

    All joking aside, I’m puzzled why there’s discussion about the fraternal correction being done privately and not in writing.

    This could mean either:
    1. no one will hear that a fraternal correction has been made
    2. the public will hear that it has been made but no one in the public will be privy to its content.

    Pace precedence and temperance, but won’t one of these approaches just delay even further the addressing of this crisis?

  5. Thomistica says:

    Oops, that would be precedents, in addition to precedence.

    As always, willing to hear counterarguments!

  6. VexillaRegis says:

    Thomistica, sorry, but did you perhaps post in the wrong tread?

  7. Thomistica says:

    Yikes. Looks as if you’re right. Rushing to close out work for the year, cognitive overload and all that. (A way of life.)

    Ah well. Anyhow, maybe Fr. Z will do a posting about the “in camera caritatis” thing mentioned in La Stampa, thereby initiating a cool thread. Now, back t0 the grind.

  8. Gregory DiPippo says:

    Optime Pulle Personate,

    If you have a technical problem with posting at NLM, please let me know via the email address linked under my picture on the website ( We will be most happy to publish your opinion concerning the satirical status of EOTT in forma specifica.

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  9. Semper Gumby says:

    Well, sure Chicken, since you put it that way. I really must re-read Ut Illuderet. Then again, the CDF may have overlooked the latest paper on Bose-Einstein Condensates by Harpo Marx PhD.

    Ok, I haven’t the foggiest idea what a Bose-Einstein Condensate is. It may be a tasty dessert. In which case I’d like a large portion please.

  10. The Masked Chicken says:

    The thing is, I actually presented a paper on the mathematics I mentioned in my comment, above, at an international conference, last year. We can’t do the actual analysis because we lack the probability measures for object/attribute pairs in natural languages. I’m developing a toy language to test the theory. In principle, I should be able to create a language where it is possible to tell only one joke. It will be the language for serious people :)

    Of course, if there are any computer scientists reading who love to play with the Python Natural Language toolkit, !et me know. In theory, we are closing in on a robot capable of understanding humor, but we lack some of the databases necessary. Microsoft has an engineer who delivered a paper at the conference analysing the New Yorker caption contest entries for funniness. Her paper was totally probability-driven without any real theory. That has been the problem in the computational linguistics of humor – they don’t have a good theory. They have data, but no theory. I have a theory, but no data.

    In any case, maybe I will write a paper on the theology of humor for the NLM. I have been meaning to do so for years.

    The Chicken

  11. The Masked Chicken says:

    Let me clarify. I have been meaning to write the paper for years, not, necessarily, for the NLM, although I might do so.

    The Chicken

  12. JARay says:

    My favourite satirical blog is “Eccles is Saved” which can be found at

  13. Semper Gumby says:

    Masked Chicken: That is interesting: language creation and humor. I read somewhere that the first written humor was probably a pun or wordplay in Sumerian cuneiform or Egyptian hieroglyphs.

    Sumerian is a “language isolate”- no one knows with certainty how it was developed. Consonants must be written with a vowel (aB-Ba-eB-Be etc.). The English word “tablet” could be written with four cuneiform characters: ta-ab-le-et. Thus the theory that written puns or wordplay started here by selecting particular consonant-vowel pairs over other pairs.

    With hieroglyphs there are even more options to write a word. There are numerous 1-, 2-, and 3-consonant signs. An owl is “m”. A basket is “nb”. An oar is “hrw”. So selecting how to write the consonants, and the graphic nature of the sign itself, may have produced the first New Yorker cartoons. (A Pharaoh, a scribe, and Queen Nefertari walk into a temple. The scribe says…).


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