Friday, October 29, 2010

Holy Cards, Batman!

This past summer I went to a wedding in El Dorado, Kansas. El Dorado is not only home to the Kansas Oil Museum, but is also the childhood home of President Obama’s mother. As El Dorado is good GOP territory, there is not, and will never be, a sign commemorating the event. But the wedding itself was really very nice. The bride was beautiful, the groom nervous, the parents proud, and the priest did a great job of explaining the process of the mass as well as the rationale why only practicing Catholics were able to have snacks in the middle of the service. (No word of what the Catholics who are done practicing and actually good at it are allowed to do.) And like most houses of worship there’s a lot of literature scattered throughout the pews. I was especially taken by a small card with a photo of Pope Benedict XVI on one side and a prayer for his wise guidance of the Church on the other.

I had seen Holy Cards before with pictures of saints on one side (like Saint Dominic, Saint Theresa, Saint Pierre, Saint Thomas, Saint Pierre Thomas, Saint Brees, and Saint Whodat) and appropriate prayers on the other, but the Pope card was a new one. This got me thinking that maybe there’s a market out there for Pontiff Trading Cards. You’d have a picture on the front of the Pope in full regalia, and on the back you’d have his stats and a small vignette:

Leo XIII (Vincenzo “Prayin’ Vinny” Pecci)

Year Team League SS EW SC WB IT

1901 Papal Catholic 4,800 2 18 7,010 0

Leo XIII was the first Pope to have his voice recorded on a phonograph, reciting “Maria ha Avuto un Piccolo Agnello” into a tinfoil cylinder. Or maybe that was Thomas Edison. They looked a lot alike.

(In case you were looking for the code:
SS = Souls saved
EW = Encyclicals Written
SC = Saints Canonized
WB = Wafers Blessed (in thousands)
IT = Impure Thoughts
The latter is the equivalent of fielding errors.)

I see real potential here, especially with the rare and collectible rookie cards.

I’m not sure that this idea translates well to Judaism. We really don’t have designated rabbis in charge of the whole shebang, and while congregations may belong to an umbrella organization for their own theological bent each temple or synagogue pretty much runs its own show. (Old joke: Name the kinds of Jews. There’s Reform Jews, Conservative Jews, Orthodox Jews, Orange Jews, Grapefruit Jews, Apple Jews, Grape Jews…)

The closest thing we have to folks who are “card-eligible” are the leaders of the ultra-orthodox Chasidic sects, who from an outsider’s perspective seem to spend a lot of time out-davening and out-fruitful-and-multiplying each other. I’m thinking that while the front of the card would again feature a picture in complete uniform (which, with black coat, long bread, and hat would look pretty much like all the other uniforms), the back might look something like this:

Shmuel “The Kreplach” Kapowitz


1964 Lubavitch 8 613 11.5 7 3 2

Rebbe Shmuel once smelled bacon, but studied the Zohar to obliterate the memory and then soaked in a mikveh for a week to ensure his place in the world-to-come, Ha-shem be praised.

As usual, there’s a code:
NC = Number of Children
CO = Commandments Observed
BL = Beard Length (inches)
DPH = Davens/hour
PS = Pigs Seen
PA = Pigs avoided

I thought about adding a “Circumcisions Performed” category, but ran out of space and snipped it off at the end.

(One last saint story. I went to ninth and tenth grades at Brebeuf Preparatory School, a Jesuit high school in Indianapolis, Indiana. The school was named after St. Jean de Brebeuf, a Jesuit missionary to the native peoples of Canada who died a martyr. I know this because on the wall of the cafeteria was painted a mural of the saint tied to a stake, flames around his feet, red-hot hatchets strung around his neck, while half a dozen hooting Iroquois danced around him in glee. Forget the total lack of political correctness in the picture…learned white man tortured by savages, that kind of thing. Can you imagine trying to eat lunch looking at that? Understandably, there was no hot lunch line. Hail Brebeuf Forever!)

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