Do you remember the very first time you were duped into thinking something was real when it wasn't? Can you recall an incident when you believed people were being honest with you, only to discover they were being devious?
Charlie was all of 10 years old when his mother discovered it was time to give him a lesson in the romance languages. No, this was not going to be an update of the birds and the bees. What he needed was a simple reminder that the letter “g” in some Italian words is silent, even when it appears on food labels in English.
Here is how his grammar lesson came about. Mother and son were food shopping for the family. To save time, she asked him to pick up a package of bologna from the deli section of the store while she collected a variety of dry goods from other aisles. When the boy came back empty-handed, mom asked why. He announced there was no baloney on the shelves, only something that looked like it, but called Bo-LOG-Nah.
“That is baloney,” she emphasized.
“Then they should get their spell checker fixed,” he retorted, spinning on his heels to return to the counter and seize a pack of the “mislabeled” luncheon meat.
Why do we use the expression, “full of baloney” when referring to someone who is giving us information that is not trustworthy? The short answer is simply that fake begets fake. If the announcement is fake, then what better way to describe the announcer than as a speaker who is full of fake stuff, like baloney? We know this sandwich filler is comprised of very low-quality beef, usually meat that is harvested from old bulls, synthetically processed with artificial coloring, and heavily salted to enhance its flavor and to extend its shelf life. Since so much of baloney is “fake meat” in that sense, the term is aptly applied to someone who is spewing assertions with no basis in objective truth. Other contemporary examples might include fake advertising, fake identities and fake news, all of which would certainly qualify as unsavory servings of phony baloney!
However, there is an important exception, which we should point out in fairness to Italy. There is nothing fake about the baloney served in the city of Bologna. Their bistros only serve a high-quality cut of meat, which is far superior to the USA brand and far more expensive, of course.
For Holy Homework: Let's create a sign that reads, “No Phony Baloney Here” and for the month of August post a copy at home, or work, or school or in all three places as a reminder that the Gospel we believe is authentic, not fake. And only when we live lives in “imitation” of Our Lord are we being “real” Christians.
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