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[back to laughing matters 4: Saint Sorta]

Official Vatican position on the existence of St. Catherine

It was a bit of serendipity if ever there was. My mind was still humming with gratitude the morning after the critical thinking class in which my students had been so articulately pissed off that the namesake of their college, Saint Catherine, never existed—and that the Catholic church knew damn well she never did, but never bothered too hard to share.

I was wondering what on Earth I could do with my happily tingling neurons when an announcement popped up in my inbox. It was from Professor Floyd Gardner (not his real name) who was once again heading up the committee to award the college’s highest individual honor to a graduating senior: the Helga B. Landers Memorial Award. Floyd was seeking faculty nominations of deserving seniors.

I knew immediately who I had to nominate. There was only one choice: Katie Alexander.

I sat down and wrote an impassioned nomination of Katie, whose accomplishments really did leave her fellow students in the dust. At the end of the letter, I slipped in a fact that I thought would clinch the award. Katie, you see, shared one important feature with St. Catherine of Alexandria: she doesn’t exist.

Never did hear back from old Floyd, for some reason. But when the list of nominated students was distributed the next week, sure enough, Katie’s name wasn’t on it.

The Lord had delivered them into mine hands.

I had just three installments left in my Bible Gal column in the faculty e-newsletter. And now I knew just what to do with them.

A Call to Action from the Bible Gal

Please join me expressing outrage against an injustice currently brewing at the College of St. Catherine! A student by the name of Katie Alexander has been denied the right of consideration for the Helga B. Landers Memorial Award – excluded on the basis of a characteristic not even mentioned by the committee as grounds for exclusion!

In addition to stellar academics, Katie has exhibited extraordinary leadership skills and a heart of gold. In 2002, she founded Hey Hunger – Bite Me!, a foundation that to date has served over 150,000 hot meals to the homeless. In early 2003, Katie launched a student antiwar movement called Hey War – Fight Me!, successfully ending the Iraq war in May 2003, just in time for the President’s carrier landing.

Closer to home, Katie has twice served as governor of North Dakota. Granted, it’s just North Dakota, but it still counts as leadership in my book. She also won the Pillsbury Bake-Off and cured Restless Legs Syndrome. Apparently it just isn’t enough for the committee.

Katie shares an astonishing number of characteristics with the namesake of our beloved College: she is intelligent, ethical, courageous, virginal, and fictional. It would be strange indeed if the qualities that inspired the naming of the college after St. Catherine of Alexandria would not also merit recognition of Katie F. Alexander for this award.

Strike a blow for those among us who happen to be allegorical, a blow against blatant actualism! Let committee chair Floyd Gardner and the rest of these fictophobes know what you think: JUSTICE FOR KATIE!

The next week, a somber turn of events:

A Lighthouse in the Wilderness

Gentle Readers –

There will be no BG column this week, my friends. As you may have guessed from the somber darkness of my font, I bring you terrible, terrible news. Our beloved Katie Alexander has been struck down in the prime of her non-existence, martyred by a seething mob of actualists who could not share the world with one so beautiful. The rabble fell upon her as she sat in prayer to her greatest imaginary friend, Saint Catherine of Alexandria. They dragged Katie off and bound her to a wheel, which, though admittedly making her quite dizzy, did not break her. So they smooshed her.

Whenever a human soul is torn prematurely from this realm of suffering and tears and condemned to an eternity in Paradise, my heart weeps. If only Katie’s cruel fate had been delayed for even an hour! Alas…it was not to be.

Will there ever be another as brave, as accomplished, as virginal and selfless and thrifty as our Katie? You know the answer. Yet still she lives – in our hearts, in our memories, and on our DWKD bracelets (Do What Katydid, available for just $16.95 plus shipping at All proceeds go to the beatification campaign). – BG

And finally, my last hurrah:

A Lighthouse in the Wilderness

Gentle Readers!!!

As you can tell by the cheerful whiteness behind my font, I bring you great good news!! In my previous column I cried out from the depths, mourning the martyrdom of our precious Katie Alexander. But the LORD has banished grief, as he is wont to do, sending down a torrent of signs and wonders such as our suffering world has not seen since the 1980 Miracle on Ice!

My inbox is filled with figuratively thousands of testimonials, all telling of miracles that have come to pass after praying to the departed Katie. Mrs. Frieda Groot of Bemidji, Minnesota found the rosary she lost seven months ago, tucked beneath the passenger seat of her Buick Riviera. The Lundgren twins of Kingdom City, Missouri simultaneously got over the nasty sore throats they’d been trying to shake for four days. Just ten minutes after beseeching Katie for financial help, one Gertie Holtz of Pine Bluff, Arkansas opened her mailbox to find that she may very well have already won ten million dollars! And the topper: the very day after Katie’s ascension, the air temperature in Saint Paul hit seventy-two degrees, five degrees higher than the prediction – five, the number of letters in Katie’s name! Take that, ye skeptics!

But – according to the critically rigorous Vatican procedures for sainthood, these many miracles can only be considered preludes to, not reasons for, Katie’s canonization. Though the required period between a person’s death and sainthood was reduced by Pope John Paul II from fifty years to seventy-two hours, all of the above miracles occurred, alas, within two days of Katie’s smooshing.

At last the clock ticked away those interminable three days – and bingo, a French nun was miraculously cured of restless legs syndrome after praying to Katie for something very similar! Doctors around the world are baffled, noting that diseases never go into remission on their own. Pope Benedict XVI immediately beatified our precious Katie, waiting until later that afternoon to canonize her as Saint Catherine, Jr.

I’m sure you’ll all join me as I sing her praises: Dear Saint Catherine, guard our college, bless us all where e’er we roam; saint seraphic, hear our pleading, watch our weight and guide us home!

This is the Bible Gal, signing off! – BG

I don’t really know if the Bible Gal accomplished anything for others at the college. But she did a helluva lot for me.

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Dale McGowan is the author of Parenting Beyond Belief, Raising Freethinkers, and Atheism for Dummies. He holds a BA in evolutionary anthropology and a PhD in music.