ignatius-j-reilly

Most people I know read A Confederacy of Dunces when they were relatively young–high school, usually, or early in college. But every now and again I run across somebody who’s only either currently reading it or has just finished it, and they inevitably–no, fuck that, they always–tell me how much Ignatius–“a slob extraordinary…[whose] masturbatory fantasies lead in strange directions”– reminded them of me. 

How flattering! Makes me want to crack them over the head with my lute.

3.5 things for a Friday night

Because I’m up late.

1. Here’s a fascinating interview, Obama and the Paradoxes of Progressive Christianity, by Tiffany Stanley of James Kloppenberg at religionandpolitics.org. One money quote among many:

I think we have an understanding in twenty-first century America of what Christianity is that seems to be extremely thin. I grew up in a conservative Catholic family, and I have spent a fair amount of time reading in the literature of Christianity. I’m persuaded by Christian theologians who argue it has been from the very beginning a deeply contested tradition. The attempts to establish a particular theology as the single authentic Christian version strike me as unconvincing. The tradition comes into being through this set of texts that are internally inconsistent. There are all sorts of contestations within the Scriptures of Christianity. I think of the tradition of Christian skepticism as a very old tradition, a tradition of people who are as aware of and concerned with their doubt as they are committed to their faith. I think that’s the kind of Christianity that Obama found at Jeremiah Wright’s Trinity Church of Christ, and I think that’s what appealed to him.

2. Fred Clark at Slacktivist makes the (football) bets of the year. Noting that Republican lobbyist Jack Burkman has said that, if openly gay Missouri defensive end Michael Sam is drafted, Christians will boycott the team that drafts him, Clark writes:

Side-bet No. 1: Whether Michael Sam is drafted, or signed as a free agent after the draft, I’ll wager that his jersey outsells the jersey from any of the Top 10 picks. Care to take that bet, Burkman? Of course you don’t, because you know your threats that Sam’s new team will be “roughed up financially” are pure bluff.


Side bet No. 2: None of the Republican lobbyists or other “Christians” wringing their hands over the possibility of Michael Sam playing in the NFL will make so much as a peep next year at this time when Jameis Winston is in the draft.


My point being that that is really, really effed up.

3. Max Lindenman writes exactly the kind of blog post I love most: Ignatius Reilly: Catholic of Tomorrow, Today. In it, Lindenman finds an antecedent to all of us who argue about religion online in the obese un-self-aware figure of Ignatius J. Reilly, the protagonist of John Kennedy Toole’s New Orleans-centered novel A Confederacy of Dunces. Lindenman writes:

But what makes Ignatius such a prophetic figure (and his creator, by extension, a prophet) is the rich virtual life he manages to lead. In his own mind and in his own words, Ignatius is a very formidable figure. He has worked out his own thought system—a kind of medievalism based on the philosophy of Boethius—which he expresses with considerable force and eloquence in a collection of Big Chief writing tablets. He engages with the general culture, feeding himself a steady diet of Annette Funicello-Frankie Avalon-type movies, which tend to support his thesis of a decaying society. Through long, often spiteful letters, he carries on what amounts to a long distance relationship with Myrna Minkoff, a New Yorker he met while studying at Tulane.

The post is a couple of years old, but Elizabeth Scalia just tweeted it this week, and I hadn’t seen it before. So it’s new to me.

3.5 Over at theologyofthebottle.blogspot.com, I’m pairing Blind Willie Johnson’s “I Know His Blood Can Make Me Whole” with Pablo Neruda’s “Ode to Wine.” Have a listen and a read.

Cheers!