Wherein Fr. Rutler hits for six

Fr. George Rutler knocks it outta da park today.  Rather, he would probably prefer to have hit for six.  “Hit for six”, as he would know, is not only a good thing in cricket, but is also “to be hit for six” a figure of speech for being hit with devastating news.


“Sometimes you’re the Louisville Slugger, baby. Sometimes you’re the ball.”  (cf. Mark Knopfler)

Several veiled references to people active today are peppered through his piece.  If they aren’t knocked for six after reading this, then we have reason to question their acuity.

Rutler blasts Pollyannaism, and its often hypocritical attendant Flattery.

A couple of quotes from Rutler’s apaugasmatic offering…

Pollyanna lives on in a parallel ecclesiastical world of new springtimes, new evangelizations, second Pentecosts, conferences of “diocesan leaders” with mic’d up motivational speakers “celebrating the life and dignity of the human person”, and Falstaffian clergymen bereft of sense and burdened with unction. Catholic writers who confuse innocence with naïveté may print anodyne words that in the storms of the day become fatal to fact. They are to theology what Barney the Dinosaur is to paleontology.

I literally laughed aloud at that.

Of course, in order to identify the clergyman Rutler has in mind you have to know who Falstaff is. (cf. Shakespeare)

Here’s another…

Flattery is Pollyanna’s protocol. There even was a clergyman in the service of the pope who said that the Church “is openly ruled by an individual rather than by the authority of Scripture alone or even its own dictates of tradition plus Scripture.”

Hmmm… who could that be? Is this the same fellow, with a penchant for CTRL+C, who recently appeared on a Jesuit (whose else?) stage to promote deaconettes?

More devastating yet, Rutler continues with references to Obediah Slope and Uriah Heep, the character, not the rock band. (cf. Trollope and Dickens)

From that point, Father transitions to the three Japanese monkeys Mizaru, Kikazaru and Iwazaru, who have absolutely nothing to do with the Nairobi Trio (cf. Ernie Kovacs)

By now you have twigged to my hint. Go read it.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    +FALSTAFF (reading his iPad): “a Falstaffian clergyman bereft of sense and burdened with unction.” Good faith, it is an Anglican divine that pens this Catholic critique. [Ummm… Fr. Rutler. Right? Catholic priest… pastor of St. Michael’s in Manhattan?] How he weaves his Trollope and his Dickens, his Shakespeare and his Wodehouse as so much filigree. And all in a most unseemly detachment, as if he were sole claimant against the Estate of English Letters; insisting on rights, but only on condition that he shall hold them in trust for the poor–without fee! How rudely temperate; how bereft of closeted venom and avarice, how lacking in that venomous decorum that best describes us venomous Falstaffians! as if he wished, not to damn with faint praise, but save with critical scalpel. Ah, but I’ll best this Rutler yet: he lists no Austen, and there never were an Anglophile yet that could type “unction” and “clergyman” in a sentence without invoking that sweet saint, William Collins, and his rapturous descriptions that obtrude upon reality so officiously and, therefore, so pertinently. Now here’s reading for you:

    I sometimes amuse myself with suggesting and arranging such little elegant compliments as may be adapted to ordinary occasions, I always wish to give them as unstudied an air as possible.

    What gross pragmatism, what admirable drivel! He dissembles even to himself–for he wishes not to “amuse himself,” but rather to drench himself in that fawning praise which, by unloading in truckful, he hopes to soak up backsplash. O, Mr. Collins, you are our model, sir! Yet you are respectable. Faith, if only Pecksniff had taken orders!

    [You seem to think that Catholic priests aren’t well read.]

  2. adriennep says:

    Mr. Bird, sir, you are no Father Rutler. When you find out who you are, please do let us know.

  3. Mario Bird says:

    Before I retreat, please let me set the record straight:

    1. I am a big fan of Fr. Rutler’s, have read three of his books, and–unlike Falstaff, who was offended by virtue and heartened by dissipation–in no way intended to disparage his talents.
    2. Still less do I mean to imply that Catholic priests are ill-read. How could I? All you have to do is read the article, much less this blog, to see the incredible gifts that the Good Lord has given many of our priests, to which they superadd their own industry and education.
    3. Like Fr. Z, I think Falstaffian clergy is a hilarious image, and worthy of elucidation. My comment was a failed attempt at the latter. I love Shakespeare on this blog, and try hard to add to the discussion when he pops up. Perhaps too hard.

    Exit, chased by a bear.


    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

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