In nomine Paterno et filii et spiritu Pedobearu, amen.

The grope and the perv of our Lord’s servant Gerald be with you. (And with your spirit.)

On the night he was betrayed to the civil authorities, he took soap in his hands, blessed it, and said, “This is my soap, attainted for you. Take it and wash yourselves with it. Do this in memory of me.”

There are three names that shall be exalted above all others: Jesus, Mary and Joseph; but the greatest of these is Joseph.

Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your collegiate community, and grant us perv in our day.

Those of you who haven’t been to mass in a while may be worried about flubbing the lines after reading that. Two comments about this: First, the penultimate line has not been added to the Liturgy of the Eucharist; it’s just a bit of Protestant preaching from that favorite Protestant apostle, Paul, that I threw in because it seemed topical. Second, don’t worry about getting the liturgical responses right the first time; I was there, and it took the rest of us a few weeks to get the hang of it.

On second thought, maybe you should be worried. Flubbing the response at this late date might indicate to the congregation that you stayed up too late fornicating with one of your boyfriends on previous weekends to make mass, and you do realize that Sunday is a holy day of obligation, so perhaps you ought to do as Tom Lehrer advised, and step into that small confessional. You wouldn’t want to be blithe about mass attendance on holy days of obligation. A good, devout, churchgoing man of God like Joe Paterno or Monsignor William Lynn would never be so flip about mass attendance.

Ooh goody, it’s time for another lay insurrection in the one holy catholic and apostolic church. Far be it from me, a humble layman, to aver that we oughtn’t be concerned about laywomen receiving illicit but fully consensual lay ministries of the rod and the staff at a time of rampant accessory to pedophilia before, during and after the fact on the part of some of our most prominent academic and religious leaders. Nay, this kind of civil unrest within the Church is properly the province of the bishops, or else of the sexually repressed busybody portion of the laity, preferably with the explicit blessing of Cardinal Dolan.

Back in my callow youth, when I was really involved with the Newman Club, this sort of preschismatic divisiveness in the big tent wasn’t considered totally cool until it had the imprimatur of Archbishop Chaput, because so many of his colleagues were so lukewarm, so conciliatory, so reticent about usurping the individual citizen’s role as elector and exercising a corporate franchise on the Church’s behalf. When I raised this concern in a more general way at a Newman Club meeting in the runup to the 2004 general election, the response was eminently well-mannered and respectful, a model of civil discourse, and totally blank. It was a gentlemanly but bizarre debate, the Opposing Viewpoints at hand being “American politics: Uh, I really think we ought to vote as citizens for the candidates we personally find most fit, and just speaking for myself, George W. Bush scares me” vs. “American politics: George W. Bush is the Catholic candidate because John Kerry is a Pseudocatholic who believes in killing babies, and aside from gay marriage and contraception, that’s really the only issue at stake this year.”

The prevalence of Catholics at Penn State probably explains some of the cultural problems with its student body. It might explain some of the problems in the administration, too, but I’m on the fence about that.

Frankly, the average Nittany Lion sucks at hedonism. This wouldn’t be disconcerting if the main campus were swarming with young people discerning vocations to the priesthood and the religious life, but it isn’t particularly. These youngsters are not looking to mortify the flesh, at least not to that extent. Now, by my reckoning, a good time out with a comely lady should involve Homegirl rubbing up on her guyfriends, and it’s all the better if she doesn’t need to get liquored up first. It’s fine if nursing a pint catalyzes something that would have eventually happened anyway, but not if shot after shot brings about hours of Jekyll-and-Hyde whipsawing.

At the risk of painting with a broad brush, the ideal that I have just described is a Protestant chick. Any church that is a loyal friend of the fruit of the vine and work of human hands but psychotic about bad touch can be expected to raise some young people, particularly young women, whose sexuality is volatile and inscrutable. By contrast, feeling down an evangelical teetotaler is, as the nondenoms say, a lot more edifying. That’s the kind of girl you can take out for an evening of dirty dancing because her official boyfriend is sticking to his own Friday night custom of drinking sodas at the square student hangout, and she finds that dreadfully boring, but since she’s stable and doesn’t get shitfaced to lose her inhibitions, her nonverbal cues will be clear, sane, and most likely positive.

That’s my idea of hedonism. It isn’t a legalistic limit that I set in the interest of holy chastity. Honestly, I’m not particularly legalistic, and regardless of what you may hear from magisterium freaks in the Newman Club, I’m far from the only Catholic who isn’t a nitpicking legalist. I know a few brassy, raunchy Irish girls from Northeast Philly, Near Northeast and Great Northeast alike, who might piss off the moralists because their off-color stories are nonjudgmental firsthand anecdotes about, say, period sex on a stoop in Fishtown at dawn, which resulted in some neighbor finding a used tampon in the front yard later that morning, while a properly Catholic off-color story is a moralistic tale about a fallopian pregnancy that resulted from an unprotected, prayerful wedding night “marriage act,” but if you think I don’t care about this, believe me, girls in White Kensington who pray to their deceased boyfriends for intercession care even less.

Maybe the thing about Penn State Catholics is that they’re suburban Catholics. Archbishop Carroll girls aren’t earthy, and Penn State girls just don’t seem as good at handling a sexually fraught shitshow as Temple girls. But in fairness to Archbishop Carroll alumni, the ones I know have nothing on exurban Marylanders for getting all up in other people’s faces about illicit sexytime. The Archbishop Carroll girls I know are genuinely demure, not pretending to be demure while they project their artesian wells of sexual repression onto innocent third parties instead of going to a gynecological day spa like respectable citizens.

This may sound harsh, but I’ve gotten covered in my share of the goo already, and the next time I get covered in it, I want it to be literal, not figurative. I don’t need to hear anything more about the First World Problems that these sheltered, repressed women have scheduling their sex lives around their menstrual cycles because they’re too dogmatic to go to 7-Eleven and buy some fucking condoms. I’m pretty sure Lady Kensington doesn’t have that problem, and when she and the late Lord Kensington left that tampon in the neighbor’s yard, they didn’t do it as an ironic fuck-you to the bourgeois values of their parents, like those brats in Haddonfield did at the party where one of their party took a crap on another family’s grand piano. If an amorous young couple turn a little corner of Fishtown into the Broad Street subway right-of-way as a matter of expediency, so be it, because unlike Jersey girls, trash gets picked up, but the rest of us who have found other, more effective ways to deal with the ennui in our lives deserve to be spared the seedy sexual moralism of guilty horndogs who insist on serving as black holes that suck everyone within their gravitational fields into the fray of their own neurosis, and we also deserve to be spared the wilding of posh dipshit kids whose idea of a party is to break into a neighbor’s house and lay waste to it. If they have nothing better to do with their own lives, they can damn well do it without me, and again, I’m far from the only person of that opinion.

My experiences with the Newman Club were at Alma Mater, not Penn State, but it stands to reason that the Penn State chapter would be a comparable freak show. The social scene in State College is consistent with this presumption. It’s dominated by people who drink like medieval Belgian monks but have none of the old monastic skill at making alcohol. Also missing from their skillset is keeping the pregame party houses stocked with toilet paper. I’ve always regarded not being reduced to wiping one’s ass with a bath towel a pedestrian but important aspect of a functional hedonistic lifestyle. There’s no reason that drunken grab-ass and basic personal hygiene should be mutually exclusive; if anything, the latter can reasonably be set as a condition for the former.

The venues where Nittany Lions go out on the town aren’t much better. The most popular ones have the ambiance of the Broad Street subway (yup, that skank-ass corridor again) at crush capacity, assuming a parallel universe in which the line comes above ground under the final approach path to PHL 27R, which, by the way, is situated next to a burn pile for stale surplus tobacco. Now, there might be reasonable financial or personal motives for putting up with that shit in the world that I’ve described. Maybe you prefer commuting to your job at the airport on the subway than on the 108 bus, and having taken a 3:30 am run the whole way down from 69th Street, I’m totally with you. Or maybe you milked your connections with crooked fuckers in the Philadelphia city government for a job tending the slash pile; by prevailing local standards, that’s honorable enough.

But we don’t live in that world. We live in a world constrained by SEPTA as it is, not as it should be, and the same thing is true of the American club scene. Another way of putting this is that the party scene in Happy Valley is dominated by shallow people of dubious hygiene and taste.

Additional questions are raised about the judgment of Penn State’s party animals the moment one takes a look at the mountains. Granted, Pennsylvania is my second home state, so I have an admitted bias, but beholding that landscape I do believe that Center County’s countryside is one blessed by God. This is not something that I’m inclined to say about, say, West Kansas. (Grandma, who was raised in Northeast Kansas, agreed with me even more than I agree with myself, although she would have fastidiously avoided blaming God for the ugly parts of his creation.) The question, then, is why the shortsighted, academically marginal “students” at the main campus (and there are more than a few, I’d say) spend so little time up in the hills. If the weather isn’t crap, the appropriate hedonistic response to living in a landscape like that is to head into the State Game Lands with some other hedonists, probably ones of the opposite sex, and get frisky on the conglomerate. (“Is it okay if I conglomerate inside you?” Hey, that’s what he said! Fuck. The geology department at Alma Mater wasn’t always an edifying place.) To catalyze things when the game wardens aren’t around, it might be a good idea to heed local taste, if any, and bring along a jug of what my home brewer acquaintance Dennis the Workplace Safety Menace proudly calls “twenty percent rice adjunct with a really nice malt finish.” The malt finish may be in the eye of the beholder, as it were, but the ability to rehydrate on the stuff and get fucked up if the spirit so moves you isn’t.

And to think that I have yet to name the elephant in the room: FOOTBALL. I capitalize it because, like any American cretin on Monday night, the average Nittany Lion is, indeed, ready for some FOOTBALL. The answer to that rhetorical question is “WE ARE–PENN STATE!” And, yes, that’s also capitalized. The same could be true of that enduring New Orleanian watchword, “STAND DOWN, GISEVIUS!” No, I’m just kidding; I should have written “WHO DAT?” And in consideration of the prevailing grammatical standards, I should add: Kyrie eleison; Christe eleison; kyrie eleison.

So Penn State could be worse. But don’t think that it doesn’t need its own Ronal Serpas to come back home and extract the communal head from the communal ass. When the standard athletic cheer is a first person plural statement of self-evident fact presented as the kind of cult chant that Junior Bear can’t resist despite not being affiliated with the institution, something’s probably wrong. When the school sells shirts that read “I BLEED BLUE AND WHITE,” something’s wrong. It’s the same thing that’s wrong with the dye in commercials for feminine hygiene products, only more so. When it’s widely regarded as trolling to gently suggest that maybe Joe Paterno was getting a bit ornery and senile the last few years, something is, again, wrong.

Seriously wrong. As my mom said, “That’s what happens when a school is taken over by a football program.” You wouldn’t know it to take a look around town, but JoePa had superiors at Penn State. The problem was that they were superiors in name only. Tim Curley and Graham Spanier knew their place, by which I mean that Joe Paterno well and truly did not know his. That’s how a rather abrasive guy with incipient senility became an untouchable idol, revered by all for his unshakable class, and an academic institution turned into a cult celebrating formal battery by vulgar meatheads. On the continuum between Stanford football players and SEC players, I’d hazard a guess that the Nittany Lions skewed towards the Southern manners of the latter. And just to be clear, by “Southern manners,” I mean more or less a cross between Mitch McConnell and a Birmingham ghetto gangbanger. Hayell yes, them thar’s some classy gents, I do declare (but not under penalty of perjury, or in the presence of the FBI).

Amazingly, the bloom is not entirely off the Paterno rose even yet. Keep in mind, though, that Penn State did some very effective brainwashing on a statewide scale. There’s no getting through to people like that. All that can be done is to wait for the cultists to come around and die.

That’s all we can hope for out of Jerry Sandusky, too. Actually, I have more sympathy for him than for most of the other principals in that scandal. If this sounds callous or perverted, consider that his victims are relatively young and have now been belatedly vindicated in a court of law, while Sandusky is getting long in the tooth and is almost certainly too sick to recover. Anyone with such a strong sexual attraction to children is in an inherently and irredeemably bad spot. Freedom or incarceration makes no difference; its real effect is to keep the public safe from such people.

I can’t say that I have any such sympathy for Graham Spanier. From what I’ve seen and heard, he was a shitty administrator. His craven negligence in the Sandusky affair was only the most egregious example of his unfitness to lead an academic institution. The scheme to relocate the Dickinson College of Law to the main campus has less moral weight, but that doesn’t keep it from being completely feckless, insensitive and grandiose. Nor did Spanier do anything of note, as far as I know, to rein in the duds who ran loose in the branch campus administration at Penn State’s medical school and hospital in Hershey.

In the worst of times, he was a lemon, and in the best of times, he was still a lemon. And as any academic can tell you, just like Billy Elliott, that’s one kind of fruit that can dance. As part of the concerted insurrection by the adults in the room following Sandusky’s arrest, President Dr.  Spanier was forced to do the Electric Slide out of town, on demand and in full view of the media, pour l’encouragement des autres. So was the Lion of Nittany Lions Himself, JoePa, he who was obviously meant to die of a massive MI at the 35 yard sidelines, dead in his element on live television while his cretins concussed Ohio State’s cretins. Thus was it meant to be.

But as they say in jolly old England, balls. And not the oblong kind that a gentleman and a scholar like Ben Roethlisberger might hurl down the gridiron like his own head into a tree during a motorcycle accident, but rather the kind that feature in Yorkshire farmers’ anecdotes about the city girl and the Hereford bull. (Actually, I don’t always hear jokes about city girls and farm animals, but when I do, I usually hear them from Junior Bear’s grandfather, Popop, who grew up on a truck farm in Bensalem; but that’s no reason to spare Yorkshiremen.)

Penn State was simply getting too much of what crooked captains at the Philadelphia Police Department’s 39th District call “heat from above.” Like Captain Glenn, they “do not like getting heat from above,” but, to quote our family friend Captain Bones, at the time Lieutenant Bones, “Listen! I’m a lieutenant in the United States Army, and you do NOT talk to a lieutenant in the United States Army that way!” From above, from below, or from every conceivable direction and then some, some kinds of heat are best taken as a cue to get the fuck out of the kitchen. Now. That’s true whether it’s coming from a surprisingly insolent Army lieutenant who won’t be intimidated when he has Arlen Specter, Ed Rendell, Michael Nutter and the PLCB on his side, or whether it’s coming in unison from practically the entire Fourth Estate, which is freaked out that Sweet Jesus that football program is a train wreck. That’s as good a time as any to admit that it’s no country for old men, get the hell out of the way, and die of lung cancer.

Or, in Graham Spanier’s case, apparently take a job with the clandestine services. If you’re wondering why Spanier’s prosecution is appropriate, that’s why. It isn’t because Penn State needs to be made whole; that process was set in motion when the trustees flushed him out and dynamited his weasel hole. It’s because the clandestine services have absolutely no business hiring that motherfucker.

Spanier’s “national security” job is one of the most underreported stories of the year. That kind of thing is deadly serious. Even in the best of times there is precious little effective oversight of America’s clandestine services, and as a result they suck. A man of Spanier’s character isn’t fit to sweep the floors at Langley. For all I know, though, that’s why they hired him. A review of the vicious things that they do in the name of our country makes that plausible. By “they,” I mean whoever the hell hired that shithead, since it seems no one will admit to it. “They” who hired Spanier are the same “they” that Farmer Uncle and Stoner Aunt’s neighbor the Mad Electrician routinely accuses of having assassinated Nikola Tesla to forestall the development of perpetual motion machines. The difference is that this time they actually did it (or, to use proper classification protocol, **** ******** *** **).

As far as anyone can tell. Maybe we’re just being punked. But probably not. So damn straight Congress needs to assert its oversight over the whole lot of them and vet their hiring decisions. But good luck getting that from the government that prosecuted John Kiriakou. That’s why we need to tar Spanier’s ilk with felony convictions whenever possible. Until we figure out how to treat the metastasis of our clandestine services, that’s all we’ve got.

This is some sick shit. We live in sick times. Monsignor Lynn, our loyal mass celebrant from some paragraphs above, is another case. This stuff is just fucking sick, but not in the sense that Laird Hamilton beasting the Pipeline is fucking sick.

Fabius Maximus often notes that the Roman Empire saw a surge of fringe philosophies and religions, including stoicism, hedonism and Christianity. Times when the clandestine services are hiring Bond, Graham Bond, give any of the three an appeal. In fact, they give all three an appeal, so why not do an Old West mixxy-uppy? America is, after all, a melting pot. Even if you never know what all went into the pot and the sourdoughs get ornery if you ask because, well now it’s all going to the same place and it’ll make a turd, you can rest assured that our Lord Joseph cooked up a worse pot in his day. Did he ever. So I’m thinking maybe it’s an opportune time to go up in the hills with a Presbyterian girl, play stinky finger on the rocks and talk total depravity. Actually, there isn’t an explicit religious test; I’ll take one of my own coreligionists if I’m confident that she won’t go from Mother Teresa to Amy Winehouse in fifteen minutes. To my way of thinking, total depravity isn’t so much an ideal as a concept whose discussion might impress girls who don’t realize that Calvinists can be that totally fucking batshit.

So there’s no reason to try to get it on with a girl who will end up all neurotic about it. As any potluck organizer will tell you, there’s no need to be bashful. What happens in the State Game Lands stays in the State Game Lands. Yup, it’s just like Vegas, except that the sleazy crypto-New Yorkers stay out all along because they aren’t up for the hike. That makes it, in the nondenom parlance, a lot more edifying. One might as well play the game with someone who’s up for the game. Why do you think they’re called Game Lands?

In any event, one thing that definitely won’t be coming back from the Game Lands is that jug of twenty percent rice adjunct with a really nice malt finish. If I can’t find a hookup who doesn’t have taste in beer, we can always leave it behind on the rocks for strangers who don’t. Rednecks love that kind of shit.