Literary Treatment

Frank Zapatka post on a mystery by Ralph McInerny

As we get ready for our upcoming University Faculty for Life conference at Notre Dame, it seemed appropriate to post this comment by Frank Zapatka on one of Ralph McInerny’s Notre Dame mysteries.

Here is Frank’s comment–

Ralph McInerny’s Lack of the Irish (1998)

Lack of the Irish (1998), the second of McInerny’s thirteen  mysteries set at Notre Dame, revolves around a Baylor–Notre Dame football game. As in several of his mysteries, reference is made to abortion. The Reverend Edwina Marciniak, pastor of the Independent Protestant Church of Jesus Christ and His Almighty Parent…in downtown South Bend (IPC) “had followed the newspaper reports of the coming clash…with mounting irascibility.” A very lapsed Catholic, she had founded the IPC as a “faith worthy of feminism” (12). In an effort to enlist the support of the Reverend Webster Stone, pastor of Hope Baptist, she calls on him with a question. Before she poses it, we’re told his colleagues would kid him on occasion, suggesting he was “soft on Rome…. “Next thing you’ll be using incense,” they would say, or ask him “What’s this I hear about vestments at Hope Baptist?  Such…tactics were not worthy of response.  On other matters, perhaps, Webster was vulnerable to the charge of being soft on Rome, on matters of pro-life, but then all these kidders would agree with him there” (132).

“What do the Baptist pastors intend to do about the game Baylor has scheduled with Notre Dame,” the Reverend Marciniak then asks the Reverend Stone.  “Go to it, madam,” and “Cheer on old Baylor….Edwina let out an anguished cry and collapsed into a chair” (132-133).  Toward the end of the visit, Webster “felt an overwhelming desire not only to respond to this woman but to shock her….As far as that goes, the Roman Church has stood rock firm on the matter of abortion.  I am not alone in admiring their valiant pope for speaking Christian truth when all around it is being mocked.  I have come to think that we should take more seriously what they say about contraception. The Catholics are our powerful allies in the defense of family values.” Edwina, whose particular animus was to Catholicism, after hearing some more shocking words, “staggered to her feet….[and] fled” (136).

Frank Z.


posted by Richard M.

Richard Myers

Richard S. Myers, the Vice-President of UFL, is Professor of Law at Ave Maria School of Law, where he teaches Antitrust, Civil Procedure, Conflict of Laws, Constitutional Law, and Religious Freedom. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Kenyon College and earned his law degree at Notre Dame, where he won the law school's highest academic prize. He began his legal career by clerking for Judge John F. Kilkenny of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Professor Myers also worked for Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue in Washington, D.C. He taught at Case Western Reserve University School of Law and the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law before joining the Ave Maria faculty. He is a co-editor of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Natural Law Tradition: Contemporary Perspectives (Catholic University of American Press, 2004) and a co-editor of Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought, Social Science, and Social Policy (Scarecrow Press, 2007). He has also published extensively on constitutional law in law reviews and also testified before Congressional and state legislative hearings on life issues. Married to Mollie Murphy, who is also on the faculty at Ave Maria School of Law, they are the proud parents of six children - Michael, Patrick, Clare, Kathleen, Matthew, and Andrew.