DUBLIN - On one occasion while working in the diocese of Mt Hagen I was asked to give a talk on canon law (church law) to the priests in the neighbouring diocese of Mendi.
At that time many missionaries looked on canon law with suspicion, often seeing it as not being applicable to the very different cultural situations encountered in Papua New Guinea.
When I entered the large room where I was to give the talk, I noticed that, in addition to the overseas missionaries and local priests, there were some lay expatriate volunteers in the room.
While I was being introduced to the gathering I had the opportunity to look around at everyone in the room.
One local priest was wearing a tee-shirt with a slogan on it that immediately caught my eyes.
Written in large letters on the front were the words: ‘My Cow Died, I Don't Need Your Bull’.
Being aware of the fact that some of my audience might have a sceptical approach to canon law, I was in no doubt that ‘Bull’ might refer to people’s (and perhaps my) utterances rather than to mere bovine matters.
Luckily for me, I saw the good humour in the words and did not feel offended.
I was confident that I had enough real-life situations in my presentation so that it could not be dismissed as mere ‘bull****’.
At the same time, the slogan continues to remind me that we all need to be aware of the need to avoid indulging in ‘bull****’.
If our ideas are too abstract, too convoluted or too confused, maybe we need to check on the cows.
Perhaps more importantly, the incident reminds me of the need to keep a sense of humour, and to enjoy it even if it’s directed at ourselves.