Different World Alert

I’ve been placing books on new shelves we’ve just put up, and came across a handsomely bound monograph, a doctoral dissertation by one Rev. George J. Lucas, D. D., on the religious philosophy of Herbert Spencer, entitled “Agnosticism and Religion,” including a history of agnosticism going back to Xenophanes. I will be reading the work straightaway; I’ve skimmed a few pages and find it far more sophisticated in its subtlety of thought and its depth of learning than anything that you will read from academe nowadays. It’s actually staggering.

Then I saw the dedication in the front, to the Right Reverend William O’Hara, Bishop of Scranton. He was the first bishop of Scranton, a new diocese — Scranton and the towns roundabout grew up from the coal fields. Pius IX appointed him. My high school in nearby Dunmore was named for that Bishop O’Hara, and if that wasn’t enough of a coincidence, I learned that Rev. Lucas, an accomplished scholar of international repute — his book won him accolades across demoninational boundaries, including a three-page letter of appreciation from Gladstone — served for four years as an assistant pastor at Saint Thomas Aquinas Church, in Archbald, my home town.

It’s all a Different Universe Alert … Yesterday, we were watching the terrific half-screwball comedy Born Yesterday (Judy Holliday, William Holden, Broderick Crawford). Holden has been hired by the grafter Crawford, a man with a big mouth and a tiny mind, to spiff up his girl friend Holliday so that she’ll be presentable in Washington society. Holden falls for her and begins to instruct her in what the United States is really supposed to be. One of the longer scenes is filmed in the Capitol rotunda, with tourists and tour guides milling about, and with plenty of shots of the art. And I said to Debbie, “If they pan up towards the dome, we might catch the frieze below it,” and sure enough they did; the frieze was painted by an Italian fellow named Costaggini, who was hired by the IRISH COAL MINERS in my rinky-dink town to come on up there and paint Saint Thomas Aquinas Church, which he did.

Of Rev. Lucas, the biographer of The History of Scranton and Its People (1915, volume 2!), says “There is found in the Reverend George J. Lucas, J. U. D., D. D., rector of Saint Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, of Scranton, Pennsylvania, a blending of scholarly attainments and ministerial fidelity that do credit to the man possessing them. If culture may be gained in excess and the lure of study become harmful, its harm is in the temptation it brings to give to it paramount importance and to allow the delights of deep intellectual pursuits to exclude the sterner duties, the less inviting realities of life, to place a clouding veil over the features of existence more enjoyably forgotten. Despite the honors that have been showered upon Dr. Lucas, the distinction that he has received as an author, educator, and scholar, has neither made him regardless of his priestly responsibilities nor lessened his anxiety for the people to whom he ministers.”

And it goes on from there …