Lucinda Naylor's copy of communion denying bishop, John Nienstedt's homophobic DVD was one of about 1,300 copies stored in four cardboard boxes on her living room floor last week, in preparation for their transformation into art.

"I'm planning on doing some experiments with them first," Naylor said. "I've never worked in the medium of DVD before."

Naylor is more accustomed to working in the media of church banners and church bulletins as artist-in-residence at the Basilica of Saint Mary. That changed soon after she updated her Facebook status:

"On 9/22 the archbishop mailed Catholics a DVD warning that if Minnesota legalizes same-sex marriage, the sky will fall. RESIST your temptation to return the DVD; toss it; use it as a frisbee! Give me your DVDs and I'll recycle them into art: transforming a message of fear into hope. Please share this w/your facebook friends."

Her friends spread the word, her idea made headlines and her official connection with the church was revealed.

"I was doing this as an individual, not as the artist-in-residence at the Basilica, which is a contract position," Naylor said. "The Basilica is a very affirming place to be, but of course, when you go against the hierarchy of the church ... People ask me if I will get my job back, and I tell them I'm suspended the way Galileo was — 500 years from now, they'll lift my suspension."

Naylor is now working on transforming the DVDs into art, perhaps with a flame or water motif, Catholic symbols of the Holy Spirit.

Other Catholics take the arrival of the DVD as a call to action. When a small group of friends who describe themselves as "mostly suburban, mostly middle-aged, married Catholics" tried to think of a positive way to respond, they ended up with

"We had heard about the DVD and asked each other: 'What can we do instead of just be angry? Can we do anything good?' " said Bob Radecki of Burnsville. "And that's how this group of friends came up with, 'Hey, let's raise some money for the poor!' "

Their website gives information on how to send unwanted DVDs to the group, which will make charitable financial donations for each disc they collect. The website is also a portal for the public to make direct donations to either St. Stephens Human Services or Episcopal Community Services, nonprofit organizations working to help end poverty and homelessness in Minnesota.

Ultimately, the group will return the (disabled) discs they collect en masse to the archbishop, with a letter asking him to make the needs of the poor and love of neighbor his highest priority. (Or, at the donors' request, discs can instead be donated to Naylor's art project.)

At press time, 1,500 discs had been collected and a statement had been posted on the website's home page: "With each dvd or donation we receive, we can hear our voices grow louder and louder."

COMMENT: It's great to see good catholics trying to make something beautiful out of Nienstedt's contemporary homage to "Jud Süß." I have a couple more suggestions.

Firstly, when suspended by cotton, so that they move in the wind, DVD's make excellent bird scarers for both the garden and large scale agricultural use.

Secondly, why not sell them as novelty coasters. I think students would find them particularly useful as beer mats. At parties they would be an excellent way to keep beer can marks off coffee tables etc. and after all have enjoyed a few beers I can imagine the viewing of the DVD would really bring the party to life. The police would probably be called to tell them to keep the laughter down.



  1. In my experience with Minnesotans they are not people who suffer fools gladly and they are not shy when confronted with would be autocrats. Good for them!


  2. DVDs don’t absorb liquid and don’t have a lip around the edge to hold liquid inside; they also have a hole in the middle which would allow liquid out.
    DVDs would not make good coasters.

  3. Or, with some dry ice and water and a bit of ingenuity, you can set one up to float on the layer of CO2 being given off, so that it slides around with practically no friction. Nice thing for parties.

    And Naylor can take heart from the fact that it was really only 200 years before the Church fully cleared Galileo’s work and issued its own unexpurgated edition. The next 170 years were needed just to get it to concede that it had kind of messed up in that case.

    My daughter says she won’t be surprised if she lives to see him canonized, or anyway beatified.

  4. Thanks, PJ. Your suggestion is a fine example of how OCICBW… is not just another blog about airy fairy spiritual stuff but a blog that offers sound, down to earth, practical advise as well. I could envisage your idea being taken up by the Church and used at such events as a U2charist.

  5. I don’t think we can blame this one on Bono. Just his girlie fans and those of us who supported the idea of the ordination of girlies.