Last week a student took a cracker from his local church, and the Internet exploded.
Some Catholics think the cracker is actually – literally – the body of Jesus, and say it’s a hate crime to hold it hostage. A hate crime! The US Catholic League has gone bananas, hurling fire and brimstone (and bizarrely coming out as anti-evolutionists, despite their church’s ‘official’ position) and suggesting the student should be expelled. Of course, if he’d taken the cracker and chewed it up, that would have been just fine. Their little world is really quite gross.
The insanity ensued after science/atheist blogger P.Z. Myers posted about it, in typically entertaining style. He asked for crackers to hold hostage on his blog, and he’s had to close various posts after literally thousands of comments threatened to take down his server. The Catholic League is in shock that anybody would want to hurt the baby Jesus, and so is telling people to email the head of P.Z’s university with their complaints. P.Z. has tenure, but I think he and everyone are somewhat shocked at the escalation of muppetry in just a few days.
One the one side you’ve got many many people taking advantage of an excellent opportunity to take the piss out of the Eucharist. I don’t blame them at all. The Eucharist is so conspicuously stupid that it’s almost a duty to bring it up whenever the opportunity arises.
It is a bit weird that the Eucharist is still around, if you ask me. Religions have been quite good at abstracting out all the fantastical stuff so it’s vulnerable to logical fallacy. Miracles conveniently happened thousands of years ago, because humans for whatever reason think old stuff = wise. God acts in mysterious ways = the ultimate argument winner. Jesus died for our sins makes no sense, but it’s mysterious, and humans for whatever reason equate mystery with virtue. All pretty obvious. But the Eucharist doesn’t bother. It just says ‘this here cracker literally becomes the body of Jesus Christ’, and that’s it. No equivocation. They’ve got as far as using fancy words to make it sound Big And Clever: a cracker = ‘The Host’, magic spells and voodoo = ‘The Eucharist’, doing something the Catholic Church doesn’t like = ‘Desecration’. But that’s it. No spin, just magic spells and cannibalism. Really, at some point it’s got to be phased out.
I guess I find it hard to believe that most Catholics, in their heart of hearts, really think it’s literally true. I mean, most religious nonsense I can empathise with. There are plenty of reasons people believe wrong things. But the Eucharist? Come on. The cognitive dissonance must be epic. The whole concept makes no sense – why do you want to eat Jesus? what part of his body does it become? Is he alive or dead? WHY DO YOU WANT TO EAT JESUS? – and I suspect most people just take it as highly symbolic.
Which is why the other side of the argument is probably just your standard mental minority. But they’re very very loud, totally paranoid, lack any kind of sense of humour, and have been sending death threats. At which point it stops being funny. Although, having said that, the average YouTube videographer gets death threats – “this video sucks, die in a fire” – so while it’s serious, I suspect that’s just the way things are on the Internets. You get the impression they’re quite new at this lark, and watching them try to take on creationist-hardened skeptics is almost painful.
Still. The Eucharist itself = pretty funny. I only know one Catholic – I must ask what she thinks…
This post was longer than intended. I really just wanted to point towards Ophelia, who made me laugh.