Introduction to the Not So Christian Column

Each week, as I scour the wilderness of modern life in search of stories, I stumble upon a story or two that, while super interesting, I end up tossing aside because they just aren’t that Christian.

When I say “not so Christian,” I don’t mean it U.NChristian stories. Nor am I referring to the vast ocean of stories that other people see as a central Christian problem that appear to be so Not Important for me.

I’m talking about the stories that somehow have a “Christian” perspective but actually have nothing to do with big things that are happening in the Christian world or that Christians are doing or that Christians really matter. Christian-themed stories, if you will. The media equivalent of Bon Jovi’s lyrics Live on a prayer. Do you know what i mean?

Anyway, instead of letting such statements quality On the cutting room floor of my research process, I thought I might collect them into a weekly column to throw in the trash occasionally on a Friday afternoon when you might need a light read and I might need a light paperwork.

And here we go.

Weddings these days seem to be all about a “Catholic aesthetic.”

Reality TV star Kourtney Kardashian and Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker made headlines this week when they styled their Portefino wedding with a “Catholic aesthetic.” Kardashian wore a bridal onesie with a Virgin Mary veil to match her new husband’s tattoo, both by designers Dolce and Gabbana. Barker, who really is a Catholic, wore a tuxedo.

Kourtney converted to the Armenian Apostolic Church in 2019, but that didn’t stop outrage that the couple’s style choices were sacrilegious.

“Kind of weird that Kourtney’s wedding is so catholic ‘aesthetic’ like the Virgin Mary on her dress and wedding veil???” one person reportedly wrote.

A second added: “I really feel like Travis & Kourtney [sic] Wedding mocks the Catholic religion? They don’t symbolize religious people at all, just feel like mockery. I’m not Catholic, but it just doesn’t suit me.”

“I’ll just say it straight out. Kourtney Kardashian’s use of Our Lady in her outfits during her wedding weekend was extremely offensive to me as a Catholic… I have every right to be offended by this,” they wrote on Twitter.

Exactly how Catholic the service was is unknown, but this eternity The author acknowledges prospective LA pastor Chad Veach, and he is most certainly not a Catholic.

As exciting as all this is, the event’s pasta course was the real controversy. Imagine a pile of steaming Italian pasta? think again

“The portion size of the pasta at Kourtney Kardashian’s wedding is one of the saddest things I’ve seen,” one tweeter tweeted.

Beer bros excited about a craft beer hipster contest

America has lost its only Trappist brewery due to the competitive beer market in other not-that-Christian foodie news. That’s right folks, if you’re planning on grabbing a Trappist beer anytime soon, you’re without a blessing because the first and only certified Trappist brewery in the US has announced it will be closing due to a lack of financial viability.

A monk at work in the Spencer Brewery laboratory.  Image: Spencer

A monk at work in the Spencer Brewery laboratory. Image: Spencer Brewery Spencer Brewery

“After more than a year of deliberation and reflection, the monks of St. Joseph’s Abbey have come to the sad conclusion that brewing is not a viable industry for us and that it is time to close Spencer Brewery,” announced the Spencer Brewery on Facebook on May 14th.

“We would like to thank all of our customers for their support and encouragement over the years,” the brewery added. “Our beer will be available in our regular outlets while stocks last. Please keep us in your prayers.”

The brewery was established in 2014 to provide a new source of income for the monks at St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts, who lead a life of contemplative prayer.

“All of our activities are designed to support our prayer life,” said Father William Dingwall, director of Spencer Brewery The Boston Globe.

The website reports that the brewery’s peak production was 4,500 kegs, about 60,000 cases of beer. Its beers were distributed domestically and in eight countries.

Dingwell said they had considered closing the brewery for a number of years. He said he thinks the beer market was “starting to change radically” and that the Abbey’s brewery was facing greater competition from other craft breweries.

Given the reluctance of the monks to open a taproom – a lucrative affair for many brewers – because such things probably did not go well with contemplative prayer – the decision to close was an easy one for the monks.

“Beer was a particularly interesting and engaging activity, but we’re not here for the beer,” Dingwell said.

There’s no place like ho — a plastic bag shoved into a shoebox and lost in the theater department for years

Getting back to the not-so-Christian entertainment news, a row is afoot at the Catholic University of America (that’s your tenuous link, friends) over who owns the iconic blue gingham gown worn by Judy Garland as Kansas’ Dorothy Gale The Wizard of Oz.

The dress was scheduled for auction on May 24, but on May 23, a federal judge prevented the University of America from selling the 1939 film costume until its rightful owner could be located.

Here’s the context you need:

The dress was discovered in a shoe box, in a plastic bag that was pushed onto a faculty mailbox in the theater department during a pre-renovation clean last year.

Matt Ripa, an instructor and operations coordinator in the drama department, found it. He believes it was put there when a retired professor from the acting department discovered it while he was doing some pandemic cleans and sorts. A note taped to the bag read, “I found this in my office.”

(Side note: This has happened before during pre-Reno purges at the Catholic University. In 2010, Bishop David M. O’Connell, then-president of the university, found a REMBRANDT etching in a toilet closet in his apartment.)

Ripa knew immediately what it was. The dress was long rumored to still be at the university, but he’d spent years searching through the theater’s archives and storage closets for it before finally giving up.

The university worked with the Smithsonian to verify its authenticity. Yes, that really was the actual dress.

one of the actual clothes, to be more precise. The Shoebox Treasure was one of four blue and white dungarees made for the film and one of only two existing dresses with the original white blouse. This is believed to have been worn in the scene when Dorothy confronts the Wicked Witch in her castle.

The other known version of the blue and white dress was auctioned for $480,000 in 2012 and resold in 2015 for $1.6 million. In 2014, the Coward Lion costume worn by Bert Lahr sold for over $3 million.

Father Hartke shows the iconic costume in a photo for the university newspaper “The Tower”.

Preliminary valuations of the dress put the dress at between $800,000 and $1.2 million by an international auction house conducting a Bonhams Classic Hollywood: Film and Television auction in Los Angeles.

And in April of this year (2022), the Catholic University announced that it wanted to auction the dress.

“We love the dress, but it has never been shown or distributed in the last 50 years, and we hope it will be now,” said Jacqueline Leary-Warsaw, dean of the School of Music, Drama and Art. With the collected funds, a new film acting program and a faculty chair would be established.

A few weeks later, 81-year-old Barbara Ann Hartke filed a lawsuit, claiming she was the rightful owner of the dress, not the university.

Barbara is the niece of Dominican Father Gilbert Hartke, the playwright and director who founded the university’s theater department in 1937.

Father Hartke was an interesting man. He has been involved in Washington theater efforts and civil rights advocacy, and has been friends with US Presidents from Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan. Hartke was even one of two priests called to stay with President John F. Kennedy’s body at the White House before his funeral.

Both parties agree that Hartke was given the dress in 1973 by actress Mercedes McCambridge, who was artist-in-residence at the university that year. It even made it into the university newspaper, The tower.

But Barbara Hartke claims McCambridge gave the dress “specifically and publicly” to her uncle, not the university, as a thank you for “his advice and support” during her alcohol and drug abuse struggles.

Barbara claims it was a personal gift to her uncle — though no one has known his whereabouts since his death in 1986.

She says the university “has no title to the dress as … there is no documentation to show the deceased ever donated the dress to the Catholic University, formally or informally,” and it is therefore part of his estate. And as her uncle’s closest living relative, the dress therefore belongs to her.

In their filing against the lawsuit, Catholic University attorneys said the dress could not be considered part of the priest’s estate because he made priestly vows “never to accept gifts in his personal capacity.” They say they have “overwhelming evidence” and look forward to using it in their case.

Maria Mazzenga, a curator of the university’s American Catholic History Collections, was not surprised that a famous actress had given the priest such a valuable costume. She said the priest had a flair for the unique and owned a silk jacket from India, a 6ft aviator scarf and a Russian fur hat.

“People gave him clothes because they knew he would like them,” she said Catholic News Service.

I wonder what the theatrical Father Gilbert Hartke would have thought of Kourtney K’s “Catholic Aesthetic” wedding?

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