Catholics, kleenex, and komedy: a blathering for the ages

When I arrived at the ChicagoNow “blathering” (blogger gathering) at Fitzgerald’s in Berwyn Thursday night, I expected a night full of comedy and cheers. Sure enough, ChicagoNow bloggers Scott King, Patrick O’Hara, and Dale Zawada delivered – assisted by guest comedians Jacob Williams and Fritz Nothnagel. The audience heard about topics ranging from domestic disputes to laundry detergent to obnoxious pets (check out O’Hara’s recount of the evening on his ChicagoNow blog “Comedy, Tragedy, or Me?”), and the last thing I expected to hear about was Jesus.

Sure enough, to my surprise, Christian faith made appearances in unlikely places: at a bar in Chicago, in stories involving a Native American tattoo parlor, and in a kleenex. Here’s a faith-based recount of ChicagoNow’s September blathering:

Isaac the Bartender

When I went to the bar to order a [root] beer from Isaac the bartender, I struck up a conversation with him over the tattoo he had inked on his forearm. It turns out the art came from a Native American man who, in addition to giving tattoos out of his home, carved wood flutes, was part of a metal band, drove motorcycles, and “looked just like Jesus.”

“I don’t know if he was religious, but he had themes of suffering, you know, like Christians do, in a lot of his artwork,” Isaac said.

I didn’t ask if Isaac’s father’s name was Abraham, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it was.

Patrick O'Hara

The Shroud of Turin

In between self-deprecating bouts of medical jokes, O’Hara disclosed one of his quirks to the crowd: looking at Kleenexes after he blows his nose in them. According to O’Hara, he always looks to see if any of his snot looks like Jesus’ face as it appears on the Shroud of Turin.

“I always look to see if any of my boogers look like Jesus, you know, like on the Shroud of Turin,” O’Hara said. ” I don’t know why, maybe so people will line up outside of my house to be blessed by my snot. I doubt this will happen, but hope is good.”

I didn’t know what the Shroud of Turin was before I googled it tonight, but now that I know it’s an ancient religious artifact Pope Pius XII officially associated with Catholicism’s Holy Face of Jesus devotion in 1958, I find it [morbidly] amusing that O’Hara compared it with his boogers.

St. Hyacinth

Catholicism in Chicago

To close out the night, I was able to chat with Denise Williams, a blogger who has lived in Chicago her entire life. Her family has residences that withstood the Great Chicago Fire, and according to her, “Chicago is a Catholic city at its core.”

Who knows, maybe the next blathering will take place at the St. Hyacinth Basilica – and this time, I’ll know to bring plenty of kleenex – one for me to wipe my happy tears from bouts of laughter with, and another for O’Hara to create a holy relic of snot.

St. Hyacinth

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