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“This is James Stewart speaking. Maybe you can’t see him. I can. He’s a 6’3.5” tall rabbit, and just about the nicest pooka you could ever meet. You don’t know what a pooka is ? Goodness me, you really should brush up on your Celtic mythology. “Puca” is Irish for spirit or ghost. You believe you have a Guardian Angel, to whom God’s love commits you here. I have Harvey. Like me, he likes martinis.”

Sixty-five years ago, Jimmy Stewart as Elwood P. Dowd, made Harvey immortal in the homonymous movie. At the time, 1950, it would not have occurred to any of us in the final years of our schooling by the Marist Brothers, but now I believe that Harvey can help us understand a lot about religion. Among his other exceptional attributes, Harvey had a face which could stop clocks. He could make time stand still. Elwood proudly said of his constant companion : “Harvey has overcome not only space and time – but any objections”. Elwood had absolute faith in Harvey.

That same year we were introduced to Linus, Charlie Brown’s buddy, who had his security-blanket to keep him company and give him the comfort, warmth and reassurance he needed. But Harvey was someone you could talk with, someone you could share thoughts with and have a drink with, a Friend you could always count on.

Everyone needs a pooka. Billions have one. The top pookas have many different names. Depending on the family you grew up in, they’re called Yahweh (or better, Adonai), Jehoshuah (we use the derivation of the Greek, Jesus) or Allah (praised be His name). Some people thought Elwood was nuts, or alcoholic. But he never argued about whether Harvey was real or not; it never occurred to him that he wasn’t. He was just so happy to be with him. It must be hard for people who have no pooka.

“So, Harvey”, I hear Elwood saying, “how ’bout another one for the road ?”

RIDENDA RELIGIO

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