Book of Revelations
Father Rutler proves wit and God can coexist.
Apr 14, 2008, Vol. 13, No. 29 • By EDWARD SHORT
I won't spoil things by quoting the peroration. Suffice it to say that here is a skit tailor-made for one of Rutler's television programs.
Most of us are conscious of coincidence as a kind of ironic commentary on the text of our lives. Rutler shows that coincidences may not be as rare as we are accustomed to imagine. In this, he agrees with G.K. Chesterton, who remarked in one of his Father Brown stories that "there is in life an element of elfin coincidence which people reckoning on the prosaic may perpetually miss."
Are coincidences mere chance? Or proof that God intervenes in the unfolding of events? Rutler recognizes that "an irresponsible mind may make too much" of coincidence. But he also recognizes that only the barbarous mind can be indifferent to connections that argue not only the coherence but the wonder of history. He also sees in coincidence a summons to sanity:
Recently, many have alleged parallels between Iraq and Vietnam. Apropos arma virumque, Rutler has some timely truths to impart, which should give pause to those who hear only the counsel of defeatism in such parallels.
Here, the wit in Rutler gives way to the sage, but whether he is being witty or wise, or both, he is always a delight. Coincidentally is a comic tour de force that gives new life to Sterne's great motto: "Vive la bagatelle!"
Edward Short is completing a book about John Henry Newman and his contemporaries, which will be published