One of Christianity’s many charms is its history of assimilating pagan cultural practices and recalibrating the character into something more pleasing to the palate of the faithful. Like the Borg (face it, “Keep calm and Catholic on” is a religious rendition of “resistance is futile”). Be it wedding rings, Christmas trees or pipe organs, we outfit our lives and worship with highly religious tackle that used to serve as divorce repellent or entertainment during gladiator events.
Perhaps, in a subconscious attempt to flatter Mother Church, I have adapted this method of culture recycling in my own life through the use of quips and complements sprung from the minds of those more creative than I: screenwriters. I am a thief who, to his own detriment, wants to be caught, as what is more valuable than a comment is the sharing of uncommon knowledge. Most people don’t think it to be more valuable.
Like the time that Katie (my wife and copy-editor) and I were dating long-distance, talking on the phone for hours at a time, growing more and more in love with each other’s minds. The context of the conversation is a little hazy, but at some point I found myself explaining why I was drawn to her. I had laid an honest foundation about her fervor for daily Mass and passion for the Blessed Mother, but was blanking on lighter compliments. I took a deep breath and started to speak, “You’re very generous. You’re kind to strangers and children, and when you stand in the snow you look like an angel.”
“That’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.” Then we got married. Shortly thereafter, when we had pooled our DVD collections, we popped in one of my favorites and settled down on the sofa for an evening flick. Bill Murray barely made it past “…kind to strangers and children…” before I heard Katie shriek.
“Groundhog Day? You wooed me with a line from GROUNDHOG DAY???” My tail is tucked between my legs just thinking about it. I’ll be honest – there’s really no way you can come back from that. To this day, she can only barely stomach What About Bob.
Another occasion, years later, found me sportively bantering with one of my classes over the date of an upcoming test. Naturally, I wanted the test sooner, the students, later. An oft-outspoken young lady, a trainer for the football team, offered her voice to the exchange declaring, “the later test day works best for most of our schedules.”
Drawing myself up to full height, I openly declared, “This is not a democracy! This is a dictatorship!”
I saw fire ignite in the student’s eyes as she shot back, “Don’t you dare quote Remember the Titans to me Mr. Sciba! I know every line of that movie and it’s not going to help you make your case!” I suppose that I felt a bit like Legion right after Jesus learned the devil’s name. Regardless, Jesus still would’ve had to take his Morality test sooner rather than later.
My wife has forbade me from wooing her with lines from movies, but my classroom lectures are littered with stolen prose, the manifestations of which are often so obscure that only a precious few students are left chuckling amid the bewildered masses. The Church has waged a successful campaign on many fronts to win over the culture, and while cultural assimilation may have worked effectively to win the hearts and minds of others, my own imitation tends to do little more than to provide amusement for myself. So…
That’ll do, pig.