Thursday, March 02, 2006

Celebrity Ashes

One of the consequences of the fact that the majority of Christians in the US are Catholics is that we will see more and more "Cultural Catholicism". This is good and bad.

It is good because it is right that our most basic commitments should permeate society (in non-coerced fashion [there might be theophobes watching]). There's a great sense of solidarity when restaurants have special Lenten menus when administrator, teacher, and student kneel side-by-side at Chapel, and various other noticeable expressions of popular piety.

The danger, of course, is that we'll speed right past proper cultural integration and go straight to whatever sociologists of religion call what's going on in France.

I just can't decide where last night's late shows fit in. I watch two shows at night while I do email or blog: The Colbert Report on Comedy Central from 11:30 to midnight and Conan O'Brien until 1:30. Both were raised Catholic and I've heard reports that Conan is sometimes a lector at Mass (can you imagine *that*?!). At least he was, but this might refer to before he was an adult. It is often said that his family was devoutly Irish Catholic. One item of evidence is that Conan has three brothers and two sisters even though his Mom was a Lawyer (she was also President of the Newman Club at Vassar (which could be good or bad)). Conan mentioned that it was Ash Wednesday and that he'd gone to a local parish earlier that day and then launched a skit that was mildly funny but hardly offensive. It's hard to tell where he stands personally. He has done some pretty tasteless things--like the mock interview with John Paul the Great which got him sued--and his regular singing of "I'm going to go to Hell when I die" after he does a particularly mean joke (still, this is a sign of conscience, right?)

And he can sober up quick. Consider this from when the show resumed after 911:

I don't talk about these things on the air, but I was raised Catholic. And today I did what I haven't done since the first show when I went on the air, September 15th [1993]. So, I felt like I needed someone, or I needed something to help me. I went across the street to St. Patrick's Cathedral and I sat for a bit. And I'm glad I did…. Sitting there I felt this is such a beautiful place. And we have to hank God…. We have to thank God for what we still have and what we can still do.

Other links of interest: Boston Globe article on Conan helping his parish raise most of a million dollars. There's an NPR Interview here on the occasion of his 10th anniversary as host in which he responds to a question about his Catholic identity commenting that his jokes of repression are largely exaggerated.

Colbert boasts *ten* (10) older siblings. He also frequently mentions his Catholic upbringing and did the whole show with an ashen cross on his forehead. Like Conan, it's hard to read where he is personally. Obviously, it could be perceived to be very dangerous to be perceived as seriously Catholic, but you never know. Join me in praying for them this Lent.


Blogger Conan DeWitt said...

Allow me to express my admiration for Conan...what a great name!

Friday, March 03, 2006 6:32:00 PM  
Blogger stumpe said...

I guess if the name is good enough for a Saint it is good enough for a person who is less than a saint too.

Monday, March 06, 2006 3:41:00 PM  
Blogger Deep Furrows said...

Conan's commencement speach
Conan's thesis on Flannery O'Connor

Sunday, April 02, 2006 6:30:00 PM  

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