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Will B. Dunn.jpegFirst, Kathleen Parker stirred up a hornet’s nest on the right by cocking a snoot at Sarah Palin. Then, the election having been consummated, she made so bold as to suggest that the Grand Old Party might have a religious problem. As in:

To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn’t soon cometh.

Today she returns to the fray with an excursus on “oogedy-boogedy.”
It seems that she got the term from Doug Marlette, the editorial cartoonist who died too young in a car accident last year. Doug, a colleague of mine on the Atlanta Constitution editorial page 20 years ago, was an army brat who knew his way around southern religion, which he emblemized in the character of Will B. Dunn. An affectionate send-up of the liberal Baptist pastor and activist Will Campbell, Pastor Dunn was a put-upon, slightly dimwitted, decent but not particularly righteous soul who appeared regularly in Doug’s daily comic strip Kudzu. Anyway, while Parker says where she got oogedy-boogedy, she avoids defining the term or speculating on its derivation:

If Jim and Tammy Faye put you in mind of oogedy-boogedy, you’re getting warm.
Otherwise, the term may best be illuminated by two connoisseurs of the linguistic arts: Fats Waller and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart.
The latter, unable to define pornography, famously said, “I know it when I see it.” Waller, responding to a request to explain “swing,” said, “If you got to ask, you ain’t got it.”

If I had to guess, I’d say “oogedy-boogedy” was Doug’s rendition of speaking in tongues, by metonymy applied by him to all over-the-top evangelicalism. Thanks to Parker, it may now join hocus pocus (from the Latin Mass’s hoc est corpus meum) in the lexicon of religious insult. For the record, I’d say that Pastor Dunn was anything but oogedy-boogedy. He’d probably have voted for Obama but not told anyone about it.