Monday, July 21, 2008

Soup crackers

Humans are complicated, part 11,284 in a continuing series:

I'm also completely flummoxed by the people saying a consecrated host is JUST A CRACKER, so why is everyone getting all upset?
Would it be okay if I spraypainted obscenities on your mother's grave because it's just a piece of highly compressed igneous rock with some lines chiseled into it? How about if I photoshop your a photo of your now-grown child onto a piece of child porn, because after all, no one's actually hurt by this--it's just a piece of paper.
I'm of two minds, here. On one hand, I'm past the reactionary phase in my atheism, mostly, and if people want to be superstitious in ways that don't harm me or others I feel they should be allowed to do so unmolested. Kids can play in sandboxes, religious folk can play in churches.
On the other hand, it is just a cracker. If the Catholic Church is going to make such a big deal out of this aspect of their make believe, they need to think it through more and come up with better rules. For example, make the cracker revert to being just a cracker if it's not consumed at the location of worship, or say Jebus can see into the heart of everyone and knows whether to merge with the cracker based on their intent. It's the Catholics' own made up bullshit, so it's their own fault if they left a way for someone to fuck with them in it. People are always going to rebel against authority, and by literally deifying a fucking cracker Catholics have made it incredibly easy for people to play with the body of Jebus.
Anywho, just like a libertarian is a republican who's ashamed to admit they're a republican, apparently an agnotheist is a Catholic who's ashamed to admit they worship Cathol, as Megan seems personally offended, to the point she misses the forest for the trees multiple times. To begin
Atheists have done better out of America's committment [sic] to pluralism than any other religious group, so it's hard to see why any of them would now condone an attempt to break down the social compact that demands that we mostly leave other peoples' religious beliefs alone.
Mhm, that's why there are so many atheist politicians. Megan has literally no idea what it means to be an atheist in the US. We are not tolerated, we are condescended to, ridiculed, and frequently forced to partake in religious acts we want no part of. And that's the atheists who live outside the Bible belt. I can't imagine how bad it would be to grow up/live as an atheist in the land of Megachurches.
She concludes the post by saying
When you catch Bill Donohue pissing on PZ Myers' grave, come back and we'll talk.
How about trying to get him fired and encouraging a deluge of emails that unquestionably would include direct threats? Does that count as being impolite, you asshole?
It doesn't end there, tho. After a commenter called out Megan's piss poor attempt to analogize the cracker and your mother's (future) grave
So a better analogy, while we're talking about mothers' graves, might be this: if someone told you that a piece of stone was actually his mother, would it be OK to desecrate the piece of stone?
I suspect you would answer that the person himself would be clearly crazy. I couldn't agree more. The question then becomes, what do you do about crazy people, who after all have feelings too?
she responded with offense that any one would imply Catholics could be construed as crazy in any of their crazy beliefs, and a lack of recognition that she was just pwned.
Crazy is a pretty strong word for something that is believed in by hundreds of millions of people. Obviously, if you think that there is no God, a belief in the mystical transformation of an ordinary object is odd--but it doesn't seem all that much odder to me than the belief that a rock becomes, with the addition of some spit polish and a little writing, a tombstone which it is profane to deface. Most people live in both the physical and the symbolic world.
How, exactly, using a tombstone to record the name and lifespan of the person whose grave it marks is a mystic process is so obvious as to not need explanation. (And what is spit polish?)
And now, today's dose of monstrous stupidity.
If you understand that a tombstone is more than a rock, that a flag is different from a sheet, that money is more valuable than copy paper, and that smearing excrement on the side of someone's house is more offensive than smearing pungent dirt, then you, too, are giving symbolic values precedence over the merely physical. As you should, since this is an important part of what it means to be human.
Money is symbolic? Of what?
The really amusing thing is Megan's pretense of a personal remove. She's offended because she's Catholic, but admitting that would mean admitting agreement with her parents, which calls to mind something Susan said over at her place.
As an authoritarian she repeats what she heard, but as an angry, resentful child, she chooses the opposite ideology out of an attempt to assert herself against her parent(s). So she declares herself a libertarian, not conservative, and feminist and racial liberal, while her actions and words say the opposite.

21 comments:

Susan of Texas said...

Is she Catholic? Then what was that stuff about Catholics not believing Jesus bodily rose from the grave and that the eucharist and wine are not the body and blood of Christ? Those are utterly fundamental concepts.

brad said...

Well, I remember her talking about giving up meat for Lent.
That stuff was her own butchered memory of what some nun or someone told her back before she started rebelling, most likely. Or a characteristically intellectually dishonest attempt to frame the issue in a self serving manner.
Do you really expect Megan to know what she's talking about in regards to anything at all, tho?

clever pseudonym said...

She called the Eucharist a "symbol." What an idiot. Grow a thicker skin already. Just because Brad or anyone else calls it a cracker, that should not, in any way, diminish its personal meaning to people who believe otherwise. I have to endure condescending lectures about my stupidity and ass backwards ignorance because of my religion from atheists all the time. Like Brad pointed out, though, religious people can be just as bad in return. Call me an idiot. Tell me I'm a superstitious moron. Whatever. Think whatever you like and I'll do the same. I don't care what anyone else says or thinks about my beliefs.

And calling people who do not believe in God or religion a "religious group" is sloppy and stupid.

Susan of Texas said...

Brad, you're right. Why do I suddenly expect her to know what she's talking about?

CP, I'm guilt of stridency too, at times. People here think of atheists as strange, alien creatures who might suddenly sacrifice a child if the whim hits them. Christian might be lectured to by athiests, but they also have the comfort of knowing that American society in general supports and agrees with them.

clever pseudonym said...

I definitely agree, Susan. Pretty much anyone who is self-reighteous about their beliefs is obnoxious. The get-in-your-face atheists are just as bad as the missionary Christians who knock on your door and shove Jesus up your ass, though. At least to me. But like I said, thick skin. I don't really let it bother me. A lot of Megan's commenters are saying that it's impolite to say something deliberately when you know it will offend someone. Bite me. You know what I think is impolite? Expecting everyone in the world to walk on eggshells and not express themselves as they would like because it will offend you. I'm sick of permanently offended people. There's no reason Brad can't call a communion wafer a cracker if he wants to. Megan's acting like people who do are peeing on a pulpit instead of just making flippant, easily dismissed remarks.

Susan of Texas said...

Did Megan remove part of this post--the stuff about Catholics' beliefs?

brad said...

I don't think so, Susan. Maybe whatever you're thinking of is in the long comment she also left?

spencer said...

I can't imagine how bad it would be to grow up/live as an atheist in the land of Megachurches.

It sucks.

spencer said...

I have to endure condescending lectures about my stupidity and ass backwards ignorance because of my religion from atheists all the time

I know the feeling, cp. I've had to endure condescending lectures about my inherent lack of morals and my obvious "anger at God" from Christians for about twenty years or so. But then again, I did grow up in the South, so there you go - what did I expect a visible lack of proper churchin' would get me?

The get-in-your-face atheists are just as bad as the missionary Christians who knock on your door and shove Jesus up your ass, though.

This may be true - no, it is true - but you've got to understand that it was only recently that many of us have felt free enough to be even remotely public in our atheism (especially down here in Dixie). Some of us are still experiencing the exhilaration that initially comes with turning the tables on the God-bothering sort of Christian (you know the type I mean). And some go too far, of course.

Personally, I only get my back up about it when provoked, and even then, it's not an automatic reaction. It's stupid to reduce a person's identity solely to your own opinion of his or her religious beliefs.

Timothy said...

Greetings! Saw your post inGoogle Blogsearch and came to visit.

>"It's the Catholics' own made up bullshit..."

Is Lanciano made up also?

>"no idea what it means to be an atheist in the US. We are not tolerated, we are condescended to, ridiculed, and frequently forced to partake in religious acts we want no part of."

I hadn't given this much thought previously. As there has never been a atheistic society in the 7,000 year history of mankind, this has likely been a problem for atheists in every society. Imagine being an atheist among the Mayans or Incans and "forced to partake in religious acts". That would stink.

Blessings...

+Timothy

clever pseudonym said...

Spencer - I will never understand anyone who thinks religion and morality are somehow mutually exclusive, especially given the abundance of immoral acts that have been carried out in the name of [insert diety here]. We've seen people slit throats, blow up buildings, rape, pillage and throw virgins into volcanoes in the name of gods, yet the decent person who just skips church because they don't buy it is the bad guy? Uh-huh. Get over yourselves, you pious bastards.

Susan of Texas said...

Right, thanks Brad.

brad said...

My standard line is I respect spirituality and faith, but not so much when they're mediated by an institution. If your beliefs are what you've found in yourself after serious, and honest, self-examination and you don't need the agreement of others to feel secure in them, I'll probably respect them. If you're just uncritically taking the easy way out and letting a designated external authority excuse you from having to think about difficult questions in life, I'm probably going to mock you.
I'm not huge on the tactics used by Dawkins and PJ, but as Spencer says atheists have been getting shat on a long time, and a little giddiness at being able to speak in public and be taken seriously is understandable.
That said, I'm also slowly getting into Shinto, not because I believe any of it but because the ideas of rituals, little gods everywhere, and reverence for nature speak to me.

spencer said...

If your beliefs are what you've found in yourself after serious, and honest, self-examination and you don't need the agreement of others to feel secure in them, I'll probably respect them.

Well, I won't quite go that far - I will respect one's right to hold said beliefs, and in cases like what you describe above, I certainly won't mock those beliefs. But a lack of mocking of a belief set is not quite the same as actual respect for that belief set.

But I'd certainly respect the person who put in the time and effort for all that introspection and philosophizin' - too few people bother with that these days, and I think it's a worthy endeavor that should be encouraged, even in cases where it results in the adoption of beliefs that I disagree with or think are silly.

clever pseudonym said...

I think the more internalized a person's faith, the more genuine it truly is. People who are outward about it - say, the way Megan has to tell us every day that she is a vegan - tend to use it more for social and shallow reasons. The worst is when it's done for the sake of following a trend. In the early 90s, everyone was a Buddhist, then they jumped on the yoga/Hindu bandwagon. Now it's some bogus, watered down version of Kabbalah that everyone's pretending to dig. For some people, religion is more like a scene than a system of beliefs and practices. Even I mock those people.

NutellaonToast said...

Everyone should check out Quakerism. Ptolly wouldn't like the moderation part of it, but it's a great religion.

Anonymous said...

"Spit polish"

Refers to a technique for shining shoes that was popular in the military because it produces a very glossy finish. While rubbing polish into the shoe, spit on the cloth so that a mixture of saliva and polish is created. Some modern shoe shine boys (men?) create the same effect by spraying a little water on the shoe.

Or course, this has nothing to do with how grave stones are prepared...

Padraig said...

Uhh, Brad?

Money is symbolic of exchange value. A piece of paper is not actually worth a Lear jet, and yet the wealthy can exchange the one for the other very easily. Because the paper symbolizes value. We can argue that meaning and symbolism are human-constructed, without collapsing into nihilism. And on that level, you should respect that fact that some people attribute meaning to the cracker: and by respect, I mean you should realize that fucking with the Host is gonna raise some hackles.

Seriously, this is starting to sound like all those white assholes who argue that Freedom of Speech means getting to say the word n*gger without any repercussions. Death threats - unacceptable. Arguing and slagging - par for the fucking course!

brad said...

Anon, I know. It was a weak joke about the comma I presume was missing.

N Padraig, don't be like Megan. Abstract and symbolic are not the same thing. Furthermore, money has actual value, not symbolic. Enough of it is worth a Lear jet, that's how it works. Maybe money was symbolic in the days of the gold standard, but those are long gone.

spencer said...

Seriously, this is starting to sound like all those white assholes who argue that Freedom of Speech means getting to say the word n*gger without any repercussions.

Errrrm, no. The difference between racial epithets and host desecration, of course, is that skin color is an inherited trait, while religious belief is freely and consciously chosen.

clever pseudonym said...

What Spencer said and to add - people who expect their sacred cows to be held with the same reverence and seriousness by everyone who does not share their personal beliefs are arrogant fucks. They are the vegetarian who lectures the meat eater in a cafeteria. They are the Scientologist who berates someone for taking an aspirin in their presence (this has happened to me). It's the fundamentalist Mormon believing it's his Godly-bound duty to slit the throat of anyone who says "polygamy is bad." It's the AUM sect thinking unleashing poisonous gas on a Tokyo subway and killing people is justified. It breeds "us versus them," and it's sinister, presumptuous and self-righteous as Hell.

Padraig - I am a Catholic. I'm guessing by your name you are probably one, too. Brad or anyone else referring to Communion as cracker choking does not, in any way, shape, or form, diminish what the experience is for ME. They have their beliefs, I have mine. The planet's big enough for all of us.