Strange. Heretical. Trivial. Not necessarily in that order.

Here are few items of eccentric interest that caught my attention recently.

• On the Brown University website, the curious story of the discovery of a rare print depicting Jesus being baptized in the Jordan—rendered by a certain Paul Revere:

Although the style of the engraving suggested that it was done by Revere, Noble did some research to be sure. It didn’t take long for him to realize that the print was not only done by Revere, but incredibly rare. Clarence S. Brigham, in his bookPaul Revere’s Engravings, characterizes it as “one of the scarcest of the plates signed by Revere.”

It is only the fifth copy known to exist. The others are housed at the American Antiquarian Society, the Worcester Art Museum and a private museum collection in Massachusetts. Another was offered at auction by Sotheby’s in 2007.

Many questions remained. Why did Revere create the print in the first place? How did the Drowne family come to own it? Based on Jesus and John’s position chest-high in the water, Noble categorizes it as a theo-political cartoon depicting a Baptist ceremony. In his book, Brigham indicates that he could find no evidence that it was ever used publicly in a book or religious pamphlet. He also could find no model in any British book or periodical that Revere might have used as inspiration for this style of baptism depiction. Noble believes it may have been a one-off printing, meaning that Revere only made a few at a time to give to friends and close acquaintances who requested it, which also explains why the print is so rare.

Read the entire piece, which includes a reproduction of the print.

• Episcopalians in Eastern Oregon make bold but dubious strides toward the rejection of essential Christian beliefs and practices, as reported by VirtueOnline.org:

Little by little, the foundation of faith in The Episcopal Church is being reduced to ruins and the once grand colonial church of the Reformation is being progressively transformed into a social action agency. The latest proposed element to chip away at core Anglican beliefs is the Diocese of East Oregon’s desire to offer Holy Communion to anyone who approaches the altar rail with their hands upraised. Baptism would not be a prerequisite. The Diocese of East Oregon has made it a matter of Communion without Baptism. 

Apparently, it was the Delegates from St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Ontario, Oregon who first proposed the Open Table Resolution.

“It would not have happened without a unanimous vote at Convention that this was the direction we wanted to go,” reportedly said the Rev. Anna R. Carmichael, rector of St. Mark’s, in Hood River, Oregon. It seems she prepared the document that will go to General Convention. “This was the work of many people.”  …

The Diocese of Eastern Oregon’s explanation for its desire to see a change in the minimum requirements for receiving Holy Communion are that The Episcopal Church has continued to move forward as a more inclusive, open and welcoming religious body and should not to be encumbered by restrictive canons in its drive to be radically hospitable, boldly ecumenical, unconditionally companionate. 

“In recent decades the Episcopal Church, with prayerful consideration and deliberation, has consistently moved to being a more inclusive, open and welcoming member of Christ’s Body. Such grace is riveted on the teachings and actions of Jesus and the compassionate embrace he had for all…no matter their creed or race,” the explanation states. “We believe it essential our Liturgy reflect the unconditional hospitality our Lord employed for his mission.”

If that is radical and bold, then Unitarianism is beyond cutting edge. As for the unconditional hospitality of our Lord, there is the little matter of Jesus saying, ” “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” If compassion really means letting people do whatever they want, it’s difficult to comprehend why the Son of God even bothered with the Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection.

• On a lighter note, folks in western Oregon (like myself), can finally rest easy with the knowledge that the Springfield inhabited by the Simpsons is indeed Springfield, Oregon, as reported by the LA Times.

Massachusetts, you’re out. Ohio? Sorry, another loser. In the race for cultural mecca, the winner is: Oregon.

That is, Oregon is the winner as far as “The Simpsons” are concerned, according to creator Matt Groening, who told Smithsonian magazine that the real-life home of his fictional characters is the Springfield in the Northwest. It was the first time that Groening had specified the place where almost anything can happen – and seemingly has in the show’s 22 years on TV.

Groening acknowledged that he has always avoided naming the state.

“I don’t want to ruin it for people, you know? Whenever people say it’s Springfield, Ohio, or Springfield, Massachusetts, or Springfield, wherever, I always go, ‘Yup, that’s right.’”

Groening created the animated Springfield as a sort of Erewhon, but in keeping with the best television tradition, it is self-referential. After all, what happens on television, stays on television.

“Springfield was named after Springfield, Oregon,” Groening told the magazine. “The only reason is that when I was a kid, the TV show ‘Father Knows Best’ took place in the town of Springfield, and I was thrilled because I imagined that it was the town next to Portland, my hometown.

No word yet if folks here in Eugene, where I live, are jealous (the two towns, which are right next to each other, have a rather thorny relationship, in general). For my part, I’ve watched a grand total of about 20 minutes of the Simpsons, many years ago. But I am curious to see if my pastor makes mention of this nuggest of pop culture knowledge in his homily on Sunday—after all, our parish is in Springfield.

• Check, check, check, and check. Over the years I’ve written more than a few posts at Insight Scoop about the stupidity of the typical “priestette” story. The common factors usually are:

• a woman over the age of sixty
• who was once a nun
• who insists she loves the Church
• but is compelled to defy the Church (the dread “Vatican”)
• because, well, she knows better than the Church. And is “ahead” of the Church.

From wthr.com in Indianapolis:

INDIANAPOLIS – An Indianapolis woman plans to make history Sunday.

Maria McClain plans to become the first woman ordained a Roman Catholic priest in Indiana, even though the Catholic Church calls it invalid will not recognize it.

McClain, 71, describes herself as a lifelong Catholic, ready to challenge the church she’s devoted her life to.

“Some people call me courageous,” McClain said. “I don’t see myself as courageous. I just feel I’m doing what I’ve been called to do.”

McClain was a Sister of Mercy in Buffalo, New York for 15 years before leaving her order. She later moved to Indianapolis, got married and began teaching religious education. She said devotion to the Eucharist was very important.

“I kept looking at that, thinking, ‘If I had been a boy, I would have been in the seminary for sure.’ It evolved for me until I began thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, this is real. This is me’,” McClain said.

Self delusion is a sad thing. That a media outlet encourages it is equally sad.. However, if McClain insists on being be deluded and “ordained”, she should consider visiting St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Ontario, Oregon. She won’t even need to bring her baptismal certificate.

About Carl E. Olson 1043 Articles
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind", co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Word on Fire. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "The Catholic Herald", "National Catholic Register", "Chronicles", and other publications.