June 7, 2009

Eponymous Adages

I love eponymous adages. Some of my favorites are Hanlon's Razor, Futterman's Rule, and what I call Gallagher's Rules.

Hanlon's Razor states that one should never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity. How much interior distraction one can save oneself through a diligent application of this advice!

Futterman's Rule states that, "when two are served, you may begin to eat." Yes, that's the one from the Beastie Boys.

Gallagher's Rules I learned from one of my college professors, Eugene Gallagher, who was a good influence on me and taught us that in any act of interpretation one should begin with his "two rules" of hermeneutics:

1. Everyone's lying
2. Follow the money

They sound cynical, but are surprisingly useful tool against the many mystifications and red herrings one encounters every day.

Anyway, I want to propose one of my own. It's called Charles's Law of Homiletic Undulation. It's rare for a parish to priest to offer a single Mass on Sundays and their vigils. I usually offer Mass at least twice on any given liturgical Sunday. I can't help but notice, in the giving of the same homily three times between Saturday afternoon and Sunday,

The first time it's ragged.

The second time it's good.

The third time it's stale.

I have experienced this many times. So if anyone can confirm that it isn't just me, we can have a new eponymous adage.


Jeff said...

"Hanlon's Razor states that one should never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity."

Occam would be humbled. He'd hand over his razor without further ado.

Sadly, I find that Gallagher's rule is usually right on target.

As for Charles' rule, I'm not so sure. An old priest friend of mine told me that the ones he labored the hardest on were often like casting pearls before swine, and that the stock "canned" ones he used for unexpected daily masses and Sunday obligations in parishes he happened to be visiting, often went over the best.

Happy 800th Anniversary of The Rule.

just evelyn said...

Yeah, I'm not to sure about Charles' Rule. We have four Masses, and while what we get on Saturday evenings is sometimes a bit rough, by 11am Sunday, it's often almost a whole different homily. I came from a Protestant denomination where the focus of the service was a 45 minute sermon, which could be bliss or torture depending on who was preaching. At Mass, it appears that one of our preachers does best extemporizing during daily Mass, and the other is super at weekend Masses, using notes.

Hanlon is right on.