Here is how Nick Coleman of the Minneapolis Star Tribune began his Christmas Eve column in 2004:
On the day before the day before Christmas, I sat next to a Muslim during mass in a Catholic church that was started by an Irishman who wanted to convert Scandinavians. Naturally, the priest was from Africa.* * *
Just what I wanted for Christmas.
The world has changed since St. Olaf Catholic Church was begun in downtown Minneapolis by Father James Coleman, my grandfather's brother, as a way to lure unsuspecting Lutherans into a Catholic church. These days, Lutherans don't give us much trouble. But Christmas has never seemed more urgently necessary.
In giving Nick Coleman the Father Time 2004 Award, I questioned how Nick Coleman knew the guy was Muslim. Did he talk to the guy? Was he wearing religious clothing? Or did he mean "Arab" or "Middle Eastern"? After Nick recently accused some Minneapolis Police Department officers of not knowing the difference between and East African and and East Sider, I asked him how he knew the guy at Christmas Eve mass was Muslim. His response:
He was wearing street clothes. But yes, I talked to him.
Thanks for asking. Man, I hope this hasn't ruined too much of your time over the past 15 months plus.
One wonders how that conversation went. "So, where are you from?" "What religion are you?" "Wanna convert?" No, scratch that last one; that's reserved for Lutherans.