Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Great Catholic Humor Blog: Interview with "The Ironic Catholic"

One of my favorite go-to sites for laugh-out-loud humor, is The Ironic Catholic.  I had the opportunity to e-interview Susan, aka "The Ironic Catholic," and I'm happy to share it and her great Catholic humor blog with everyone at the Catholic Post Book Group.

I hope you'll get a chance to check out http://www.ironiccatholic.com/. Yesterday's post sounds like something I have considered on numerous occasions.

Here are some of my favorites, but there is a link on the sidebar of some of her best pieces:

Her occasional series, "Signs You've Studied Theology Too Long," pairing food dishes with saints and theologians. 

Her quotes of the day, about once a week, are great.  Here's one that makes you think, "Did he really say that?" (he did).

The Ironic Catholic also links to some hilarious other blogs and sites for Christian humor. Our family couldn't stop laughing at this caption contest and this great Ash Wednesday video.

Here's my interview with The Ironic Catholic. Enjoy!

Why did you start the blog?

It really was a whim.  I was poking around a now defunct Catholic humor blog called Catholicnews.org and thought "I could do this."  We don't watch TV and my husband works evenings, so it seemed like a good way to relieve stress and have fun after my kids went to sleep.  What can I say--some people scrapbook, I do an Onion-style humor blog.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I like to be a woman of mystery on the blog and go by the "pen name"--The Ironic Catholic--but honestly, the mystery may be more fascinating than the reality.  I teach systematic theology at a small Catholic university in the upper midwest, and I am married to a great man, a stay at home dad and free lance writer, with whom I parent four kids 10 and under.  I'm involved in our local parish and the Catholic Worker community in our town, and training to be a spiritual director.  The other day I thought "I'm an academic theological wife and mother who moonlights as a humorist.  It sounds like the beginning of a really bad joke...A academic theological wife, mother and humorist walked into a bar...."

It's obvious you consider humor important in the life of Catholics.  Can you explain that a little bit?

Right, the motto of the blog for a while was "humor is our second greatest strength."  I think the ability to laugh at ourselves is huge in the Christian life.  There's a kind of laughter that is mean-spirited, taking others down, and I don't endorse that--but the ability to laugh at ourselves keeps us humble better than anything else.  I suppose that's the deep reason behind the humor blogging.

In my case, I'm trying to do a bit of cultural critique with some of the humor pieces as well, and as much as Catholics can do that well, I think it has the potential to open eyes and convert hearts  more than "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth"--people warm up to ideas presented in good cheer and humor; it's a powerful tool.  But frankly, a lot of the humor really is just for fun.  A humorist trying to educate and criticize all the time is like your Great uncle Louie buying the kids brussel sprouts instead of candy for Christmas.  It's OK to laugh.  I'm pretty sure Jesus must have.

Where do you get your material?  In particular, the quotes from saints and others are really fascinating.

I have no idea where the written satire pieces come from, besides the odd neighborhood of my head.  My friends in grad school used to say I had a sense of humor that was understood by about 25 people (usually after I made some subtle joke about Karl Rahner or some such).  With the wide reach of the internet, I now have an audience of 30.  (See, that was that self-deprecating humor there?)

The quotes from the saints and such--I love the saints and read them a lot, but google search has admittedly come in play!

You've got a new book out: Dear Communion of Saints (Readers can find out about getting the book here.  Tell us a little bit about it, and why you decided to write it.

Dear Communion of Saints is a small book, a compilation of pieces I wrote for the blog a while back with new material.  The idea is to take newspaper advice columns and turn them on their head--instead of Dear Abby, ask the saints instead.  And they respond to our foolish questions, with tough love, insight and humor.  And the advice questions are indeed foolish, but honestly, aren't we all foolish sometimes? Half the spiritual battle may be recognizing our own foolishness, and the saints can do that with clarity and love, because they are so much more our friends than Dear Abby is.  I love the saints, I love the faith, I love teaching, and I love good humor--and I got to address all those things with this book.