A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors


Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition

Okay, I confess (no rack necessary): I never watched Monty Python, and smiled politely when people would say such things as "Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition" in college. I always wondered, vaguely, what they were talking about, but it was always too much trouble to find out. Thanks to You Tube, and Andrew Sullivan, I now get the reference. One lacuna in my pop culture education is now filled.

About the Author

Cathleen Kaveny is the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor in the Theology Department and Law School at Boston College.



Commenting Guidelines

  • All

If one "speaks up for accountability" as the VOTF ad suggests, I guessthey'll expect the Inquisition.""What a day, what a day for an Auto da Fe.", Leonard Bernstein, Candide

I think that the phrase "the fine sense of the ridiculous" used by Jean Raber to characterize, in part, the appeal of Colbert, could just as easily be applied to Monty Python. I'm grateful for both postings. Didn't Reinhold Niebuhr view humor as (almost) an alternative to theology? Perhaps a noticeable sense of the ridiculous should be required in all comments.

If the comfy chair isn't enough, there's always Mel Brooks as Torquemada, complete with Sister Esther Williams.

Thanks, Jean, for the Mel Brooks clip! I actually find the best way to deal with some of the self-proclaimed and self-righteous prophets of our age is to make fun of them --gently, but firmly. That's another reason why I like Colbert and Jon Stewart.

I think it's true that laughter deflates sin and arrogance sometimes.Someone on another thread said she always thought of William Donohue as doing a parody of a conservative Catholic. I really liked that idea, so I started looking at people I couldn't stand as performance artists taking on some type of extreme persona for humorous purposes. While this strategy does exactly foster the Virtue of Christian Charity, it does ward off the Deadly Sin of Anger when, say, Ann Coulter or Jerry Lewis are on TV.

Welcome to the world of Monty Python, Cathy.If you're so inclined, you can continue your MP education with such classics as:The Ministry of Silly WalksThe Lumberjack SongThe Australian BrucesThe Cheese ShopThe Ministry for Putting Things on Top of Other ThingsBlackmailThat should be enough homework for now.Like Colbert and Stewart, MP was not always funny, but all three have in common that they are/were willing to push the envelope of comedy and satire. The brilliant gems are more than enough to forgive the dross.Next week: MP and the Holy Grail (IMO MP's best movie).And now for something completely different...

What a nice set of homework assignments! Jean, the next time I come across Bill O'Reiily's pontifications, I'll try to cast him in my mind in the skit above-- probably the guy in the aviator hat.

I would only add to Bill's fine list the "Bicycle Repairman" sketch.Also, any serious pop culture scholar should read Eric Idle's novel, "The Road to Mars," which is really an extended essay about the nature of comedy and comedians. And get you a CD of "Spamalot," the musical based on favorite sketches and "MP and the Holy Grail."

Courtesy of NT Gateway Weblog :"It sounds pretty implausable...but ...they are turning The Life of Brian into an oratorio called Not The Messiah."

Add new comment

You may login with your assigned e-mail address.
The password field is case sensitive.

Or log in with...

Add new comment