Sunday, July 13, 2008
Body of Christ?
I've been holding off on sharing my thoughts about the Crackergate 08'. Of course, I fully support PZ and the young man who was fucking assaulted. ASSAULTED. Over. A. Cracker. And, it's not even a tasty cracker. In fact, I've long thought that the closest thing they resemble (in taste) was those packing peanuts that you can get made of rice byproducts.
I was Catholic. Not just a namby-pamby, holiday Catholic...I went through all the steps a devout Catholic was supposed to go through. I've noticed that there are some in the atheist community (and shocking numbers in the theist community) who don't understand transubstantiation, so I'll give a short primer. Transubstantiation is not just a long word which I will shorten to trans-sub for the rest of this blog entry. Trans-sub is the literal belief that your Christ-toasty is actually the body and blood of the HUMAN Christ. Not the resurrected one. This whole ritual arises from the last supper wherein the Bible claims Jesus said (paraphrased), "Take this and eat it. It is of my body." *RING DING DING DING* When the priest raises the host about his head, an alter boy rings a bell which supposed symbolizes the transformation of cracker to Jesus.
As a child, I had questions about this ritual. The first being the part wherein the host becomes the human presence of Jesus. If it becomes his body, then why does it not bleed? You can't just pour wine on it and go "Tada!" That doesn't count. I asked that question of my priest in a CCD class and I was told that Jesus was so holy that, upon his resurrection, he was filled with the pure spirit of God. Now...it took me about two years to call bullshit on that one. As, standing in line for communion, I realized that he had contradicted Church doctrine. But,...let's not get stuck in those little details. Just relating that never, in my twenty years taking communion, did the cracker turn into Jesus.
I've been reading around the atheist blogosphere and keep coming across people asking if Catholics *really* believe in trans-sub. It's complicated. What I can say with certainty is that they absolutely want to believe it. They want to believe it so badly that they will take suspending reality one step further than most theists. I don't know if this is still a rule, but I was taught that you couldn't eat or drink for four hours before and one hour after you too communion because you didn't want the holiest of holies dancing around in your intestines with PopRocks or eggs and bacon. In fact, there is a list of reasons why one shouldn't take communion. If you have not confessed your sins, then you may not partake. If you are not in communion with the Church, then you may not partake. This includes people who are divorced but not annulled on down to people who disagree with Pro-lifers. Yet, I never saw anyone body checked for taking communion when they weren't supposed to. And, do the math...not everyone who takes communion has been in the confessional because the lines for the host are always longer than those of the confessional. Not to mention the scads of non-Catholics who would go up for communion as a gag.
Which brings us to the current situation...
Webster Cook is Catholic. He wasn't some atheist or *gasp* protestant trying to crash the Eucharist. He was even reverent enough to bring a little ziplock to put the host in. He didn't shove it into his wallet with his condoms or jam it in a pack of smokes. There's no rule that says you can't take the host out of church. It's not conventional and it's rarely done, but I have heard of people who took it home so they could get around the four hour rule. The host is routinely taken to hospitals and homes of the sick. It doesn't burst into flames as you pass the holy water at the front door. But, apparently, the Catholic Church is now employing little old ladies as Host Compliant Officers. Really...if that lady could see he wasn't trying to scrape the host off the roof of his mouth with his tongue, and therefore hadn't eaten it, then we need to hire her out to find Osama.
What he did was unconventional and maybe a bit disrespectful (after putting it in his mouth and spitting it out...that's just gross whether you're eating Jesus or a Porter House). After all, he could've come back to try again another day. But, please, please tell me how it was more respectful to jump a guy in Church? Assaulting someone over a wafer is not only inconsiderate and disrespectful, it also happens to be a crime. I hope Mr. Cook sues. Not because I want to screw the Church, but because people in the Church should not be above the law.
Furthermore, comparing this man's actions to kidnapping is absurd. Beyond absurd!! I dare any Catholic to walk up to Elizabeth Smart, or any other family who has actually experienced the devastation of kidnapping, and throw down that analogy. Saying it's a "hate crime" is equally laughable. If anyone should be throwing around the word hate crime, it should be Mr. Cook.
My personal favorite quote was from the priest who said (on television) - "Mr. Cook should give Jesus back to us. It's quite painful for the faithful."
If you're a Catholic and you think Jesus has been kidnapped because someone didn't follow wafer protocol, then you need serious psychological help. Acting like this guy stole the last wafer in the Vatican is insane. Isn't there plenty of Jesus to go around? I mean, the Catholic Church has been distributing pieces of him for a very long time...what's one wafer?
In reality, the wafer is nothing more than flour and water. Contrary to popular belief, not every one of them was baked at the Vatican with the Pope's blessing. And, even if they were, that doesn't make it the body of a dead guy. If you truly believe in trans-sub, then I say it's your obligation to take a communion wafer and have it chemically analyzed to see if it has some Jesus DNA. It's either literal or symbolic. You can't have it both ways. If it's literal, then take it to a scientist for analysis. If it's symbolic, then jumping a young man and pinning him to the kneeler is a touch dramatic.
Now the Catholic Church has stated that it plans to send a nun to supervise the next "celebration of the Eucharist". All I can think of is Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse.
Posted by Atheist in a mini van. at 3:39 AM