DNA info; Wikimedia Commons
THE LOOP — Ald. Ed Burke (14th), Chicago’s longest-serving ward chief, is a master storyteller, Chicago historian, recognized expert on South Side Irish, a devout Catholic, and, I recently discovered, a guy who takes his stand-up city council routine seriously.
On Thursday, I publicly accused Burke of screwing up a Ten Commandments joke he delivered to city council just before he and 34 other aldermen voted in favor of the biggest property tax hike in history. from Chicago.
From the press box, it seemed like Burke offered it as a lesson that in the toughest negotiations, you often compromise and still don’t get what you want.
I wrote: “Burke told a classic story about that time Moses, after talking to God on Mount Sinai, returned with two tablets to find his followers clamoring to know what had happened. Burke put it better said, but here’s the gist:
Moses said to his flock: I have good news and bad news. The good news is that I have reduced the Good Lord to just ten commandments. Then Burke delivers the drop line, “The bad news is that ‘six’ and ‘nine’ are still in.”
In dismissing Burke’s version, I cited Google as evidence that the particular Ten Commandments joke is supposed to end with “and adultery still stands”.
Also, according to the internet, the sixth commandment is “Thou shalt not kill”. And the ninth commandment is “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour”, that is, you must not lie.
Plus, I’ve pointed out, these are two commandments — especially in the city’s shoot-’em-up neighborhoods and in Chicago politics — that we shouldn’t wish for.
When Burke got wind that I had written, he called me to protect the integrity of his joke.
He first talked about his Catholic pedigree—he was educated in his faith at St. Basil-Visitation, Quigley Preparatory Seminary, and DePaul University—and directed me to Section 2, Chapter 2 of the Catechism of the Church. Catholic to prove he didn’t mess up. the punch line.
This is because the Vatican lists the Ten Commandments in a different order than you will find in the Bible. The sixth commandment is “You shall not commit adultery” and the ninth commandment is “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife”.
That’s the thing about living in Chicago and not being Catholic, I told Burke. I’m just not on the same numbering system.
Burke agreed, saying that in hindsight he was a little surprised to get such a big laugh in mixed religious company at City Hall.
After all, Mayor Rahm Emanuel – who responded to Burke’s joke by saying, “You all know what six and nine are too” – is of the Jewish faith, which goes without saying that the order of the Ten Commandments is different from that of the Romans. Catholics.
Ultimately, I’ll admit that Burke’s version of the classic Ten Commandments joke is technically correct…for a certain crowd.
But some people will still say that Burke missed it — the same way the city council missed the budget by rubber-stamping the mayor’s historic property tax hike.
See, councilman, that’s how you deliver a punch line in joint venture – even when it’s not a joke.
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