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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Festivus Redux

REMEMBER THE SEINFELD EPISODE where Frank Costanza introduced the uncommercialized answer to Christmas known as "Festivus for the Rest of Us"? The three parts of this nonholiday are the Festivus Pole (an unadorned aluminum rod) the "airing of grievances" around a meal of comfort food, and the feats of strength where you try to pin an opponent to the ground till one or both tire out.

Frank may have gotten his inspiration from visiting Maryknoll. You want airing of grievances? Why wait for a phony holiday once a year when you can go to any meal in our dining room on any given day and you'll hear plenty. Feats of strength? Ever try to get volunteers to help at liturgies? There's a feat of strength! As for the Festivus Pole, check this picture out.

This pole with mission countries and their distances from Maryknoll has been dragged out for various occasions since it first made an appearance at a Sponsor Day many moons ago. It was last seen at the successful Maryknoll Youth Day in 2008. Now it has once again made an appearance, I presume for the talk by Sr. Helen Prejean tomorrow.

The concept may have been clever at one time: underscore Maryknoll's charism by pointing out how far it is to our mission sites. Only one problem: if the distances are "as the crow flies" you got yourself one monster crow if it thinks it can fly in the same direction and get to both Tanzania and Brazil. (Congrats to Rio for landing the 2016 Olympics, btw.) I guess geography has never been an American strong suit. All the more reason to be more accurate? Then again, that's why God created Mapquest and the GPS.

But besides displaying dubious distances in random directions, the Pole clearly has seen better days, albeit none in this decade. It's markers are dragging and drooping. Instead of being a source of inspiration, it begs the question: what is that and what's it doing here? (OK, we've also said that about the infamous Ambo back in the day.) There. I've aired my grevances. I've mocked the Pole. Now who wants to get pinned?

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