My wife once met someone who knew John Bellairs. She actually knew someone who knew the author of St.  Fidgeta and Other Parodies. (I wonder if that counts as a third-class relic.) From this person my wife learned that the pieces in St. Fidgeta were the result of many profound conversations during Bellairs’ college years. I had similar conversations at the Blue Jay bar on St. Paul St., but they are not publishable, at least if I want to keep my reputation.

Question Box Moderator

In Bellairs’ great 1966 book, he includes The Question Box. It contains such questions as

Q. Does the olive in the martini break the Lenten fast, or is it considered part of the drink?

A. This probably has vexed some of the subtlest minds of the Church. Is the olive qua olive part of the martini qua martini? Etc.

Q. What about the cookie that is sometimes served with a malted?

A. Don’t be ridiculous

Q. Father Burgerbitz of St. Lintel’s Abbey writes: The other day when I was teaching Redemptive Transmigration…

You get the idea.

The question in question is:

Q. If an Anglican priest converts to Catholicism, are all the confessions he heard before his conversion invalid?

A. They are invalid even if he doesn’t convert. The poor Anglican sinner that this “priest” had absolved is, sadly enough, like man who thinks he has filled a book with enough Green StampsTM for an Eternal Reward. When, on the Last Day, he comes to the Redemption Center, God looks at the book and hands it back, saying with a frown, “These are not my stamps. Go somewhere else.” Still clutching his worthless scrip, the bilked penitent falls headlong down the crystal stairs, bumping his head all the way to the bottom.

The newspaper of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of San Francisco reprinted this question, and an alert Episcopalian reader sent the piece to The Living Church, where the editors, who were perhaps lacking in sensitivity to literary genres,  took it as a serious attack on Anglicanism. Even the Green Stamps did not clue the editors in.

Someone then informed them, “Ahem. Are you aware that this was from the book St.  Fidgeta and Other Parodies?”

The editors then had a fine meal of corbeau a la Anglicanne.