The Prodigal Altar Boy

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


23 April is TQ’s birthday.  Thomas J. Quinlan would have been 84 years old today.  I was reading Richard Rohr’s “On The Threshold of Transformation” and day 357 (I’m reading it out of order) is titled “The Holy Fool.”  Given the title of one of TQ’s programs was called “Fool for Christ,” TQ came to mind immediately.  Rohr talks about becoming a fool in later life, but TQ was that holy fool, a true trickster, early on.  Something else Rohr writes resonates with TQ and his commitment to the Principle of Adaptation, “But as we get to be older men, and if we allow ourselves to grow wiser, we realize that anything can become a pathway to the Great Truth if it leads us to wonder.  Whether it was driving a VW Beetle down the church aisle, dressing up as the Blue Angel, simulating the yellow brick road to Oz (heaven) with thousands of painted bricks on the marble aisle of St. Mary’s, TQ continually led us to wonder.  TQ wanted us to know that anything could be a pathway to the Great Truth, and wanted everyone to find his or her own path. 

Often we mistake something that’s not our path as the “wrong” path.  Maybe that’s behind Justice Scalia’s reaction to TQ’s 1972 Palm Sunday liturgy.  That could be the reason for the complaint letters about The Wizard of Oz at Holy Family. Maybe that’s why funeral home directors grumbled at having to wheel coffins over the yellow bricks at St. Mary’s during the week of “The Wiz” liturgy.  TQ’s adaptation of the Gospel to modern times parallels Jesus’ parables, which illustrated scripture in terms people of the day could understand.    

Tomorrow I will be in Tidewater screening a work in progress cut of “The Trouble with TQ.”  There is more to be done with the movie, but I wanted to take time out of the process to show the many people who loved TQ the progress made on the film.  I hope to get some good feedback to fuel this final stage of editing.  TQ got to see certain segments I edited (an early trailer and a Nat Turner cut), but he didn’t live to see a rough cut.  Every time I talked to him, he would ask when the film was going to be finished.  The last phone conversation I had with TQ, the last thing he said before he hung up was, “Keep editing!”  I am on it.

Happy TQ Day!  Celebrate your Holy Fool!