Perhaps it owes to my curious upbringing, but as some may savor the subtleties of a fine wine or perhaps admire the brush strokes of a master painter, I enjoy a good barb. Insults are to me like clay. Anybody can mold clay. Squish it, bend it, make into the facsimile of a horsey or a duck. But in the hands of the truly gifted, clay can become a work of immense beauty.

In the same vein insults, sarcasm, and snark in general are ubiquitous. Like paint on a wall, it surrounds you with inartfulness of a minimum wage workman. But the same paint on a canvas in the hands of a master is a whole ‘nother matter.

Here in the Catholic blogosphere your average blogger falls into two categories. The nice and the snarky. I appreciate the nice people, truly. I just don’t understand them. They are like contortionists in the circus. A curiosity. You wonder how they do it? Bending this way and that, twisting in unnatural ways simply in order to be nice. Like the circus contortionists, you admire their craft while they remain completely alien.

On the other hand, the purveyors of snark are everywhere. Most are bad at it. I fear I am in that category. Every once in a while you stumble upon a master in the art of not nice.

Meet Fr John Hunwicke SSC. Fr. Hunwicke, in the form of a faux dialogue with our protestant brethren, discusses the notion that Jesus had brothers and sisters.

The Gospels make it quite clear that Jesus had brothers. They don’t. Adelphoi can mean kinsmen. It doesn’t have to mean uterine (that is, born of the same womb) brothers.

So you say. But that’s the obvious meaning if anyone talks about “Jesus’ brothers” in any language, isn’t it? Not at all. Mark’s and Matthew’s Gospels, in their accounts of the Crucifixion, both talk about “Mary the mother of James and Joses [or Joseph]”. If this Mary had been the same as Christ’s own mother, it would have been very odd for them not to refer to her as the Mother of Jesus.
So what? Well, in Mark 6:3 and Matthew 13:55, the places where those “brothers of Jesus” are mentioned, the full text reads: ” Jesus the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses [or Joseph] and Judas and Simon”. We’ve just seen that James and Joses are apparently the sons of some Mary who was clearly not the same as Mary the Mother of Jesus. And they’re the first two on the list here. The list is thus clearly not itemising individuals who were uterine brothers of Jesus.

Well, I still think it’s obvious that … If it’s so “obvious”, you’ve got some explaining to do. Throughout the second century the Gospels were increasingly regarded as ‘canonical’ and authoritative. If it is so “obvious” that James and the rest of those listed in the Gospels were uterine brothers of Jesus, then the tradition that Jesus was Mary’s only child must have arisen well before those Gospels came to be regarded as authorities. Otherwise, when somebody started saying “she never had any more children”, somebody who had read the Gospels would have said “Aha, you’re wrong: here’s a list of his brothers”. So, if you’re right about it being so “obvious”, you’re going to have to admit that Mary’s perpetual virginity is so early as to predate the acquisition of authority by the Gospels; which modern scholarship dates to the beginning of the second century at the latest. I’ve got you either way.

That’s all gobbledegook. It’s obvious …That’s the problem with you Prods and you Liberals. You’re impervious to reason.

Of course we are. Reason is the Devil’s Whore. Martin Luther said so. It’s obvious.

Ah! I just can’t get enough of beautiful words and phrases such as Gobbledegook, Prods, and Devil’s Whore. Music to my ears. As you can see, he starts out very nicely and lays out the facts for those who are willing to listen. Once he has accomplished that, he then takes out the frying pan and gives those less inclined to good humour and reason a good one right up side the head. This is something I understand,

Beautiful, a master. A master at work. Simply beautiful.