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Catholic Culture Resources

tidings of comfort & joy

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Dec 14, 2005

Yet another bold, transgressive artist dares to speak truth to power -- in this case, as far as I can see, the power that last resided in the Holy Roman Empire.

In the Yuletide yukfest, the "Rescue Me" star has a skit about lesbian nuns and a song by "Our Lady of Perpetual Suffering Church Choir" about a hooker. But what really has the Catholic League ready to launch a holy war is Denis [Leary's] take on the origins of Christmas.

"Merry Christmas," says Denis. "Tonight we celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus, whose mom, Mary, just happens to be a virgin -- even after she apparently gave birth to Jesus. At least that is what the Catholic Church would have you believe."

As Mark Steyn writes of self-righteously "transgressive" artists: "If you're going to be provocative, it's best to do it with people who can't be provoked." In this case, the worst that could happen to our intrepid social critic already has: a complaint issued by Bill Donohue. Had Leary "transgressed" Shi'ite pieties with the same breezy contempt he brings to Christian ones, his mom would be pacing Tremont Street in elbow-length rubber gloves, putting his remains into a one-quart Zip-loc bag.

So, Leary scores zero points as a critic. But note that he got his catechism right.

It may be said, paradoxically, that blasphemy is the tribute that demons pay to divinity. No one goes out of his way to commit sacrilege unless he implicitly recognizes there's something sacred about the target of his profanity. Leary's tirade -- bogus though it is as an act of artistic boldness -- concedes in spite of itself that the Church has gotten under his skin -- and, presumably, that of his audience as well. This means that the teaching Church is still teaching, her many shonky ministers notwithstanding. Should the Learys and their personal trainers ever decide to lay off the Church and put another moral authority in their crosshairs-- that, boy and girls, will be the time to start worrying.

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