My parents came to visit me today, and brought me a bag of goodies to compensate for having to talk about what I’m doing with my life. In amongst the shoes, soda, and mail, was this little theological treasure: A Catholic’s Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, first printed in January 1964.
(All of these little images enlarge when you click on them.) I am not, nor have I ever been, a fan of the Ripley’s schtick, so I find the description of the facts within (“all surprising, all true”) a little confusing. All true? What’s with the “or not” then? I mean the back cover is almost taunting: Catholics: Believe it or not! Believe it or we tie you to the stake!
I was going to make an imprimatur/ nihil obstat joke, and then I read the author’s note:
So I guess the “or not” is that some are not tenets of faith. Actually, if you set aside that this is kind of oblique and in a 45¢ paperback — not bad.
And check out the very serious little mission statement there. I always associated Ripley’s with the grosser parts of Guinness’ records: the longest fingernails, siamese twins, etc. And here they are trying to spread the faith!
This is a strange, strange little book. One thing it is not, however, is disrespectful, so far as I can tell from flipping through. In fact, given my expectation of when dealing with Ripley’s, the facts are almost dull. It also doesn’t lack for pen drawings.
Here is a sample page spread — there’s a drawing on every page. I haven’t read through the book yet (I’ve just been looking at the pictures, to be honest…) so really the only reason I took this particular page was because apparently, in 1964, the Four Chaplains might still be considered “famous”.
I’ll try to go through and pick out some interesting bits if I get the chance later. What an odd find!