Thursday, July 24, 2008

PZ Myers Follows Through on His Threat to Desecrate the Eucharist

Well, he did it:

I wasn't going to make any major investment of time, money, or effort in treating these dabs of unpleasantness as they deserve, because all they deserve is casual disposal. However, inspired by an old woodcut of Jews stabbing the host, I thought of a simple, quick thing to do: I pierced it with a rusty nail (I hope Jesus's tetanus shots are up to date). And then I simply threw it in the trash, followed by the classic, decorative items of trash cans everywhere, old coffeegrounds and a banana peel. My apologies to those who hoped for more, but the worst I can do is show my unconcerned contempt....

By the way, I didn't want to single out just the cracker, so I nailed it to a few ripped-out pages from the Qur'an and The God Delusion. They are just paper. Nothing must be held sacred.

As I said at the beginning, I agree with his insistence that disrespect for a communion wafer ought to be a much smaller matter than disrespect for a person, but his little stunt in fact disrespects both. Still, I can hardly blame him. Though plenty of valid objections have been raised against this kind of iconoclasm, they have been almost completely overwhelmed by the flood of semi-literate hate-mail he has received. In the face of such seemingly irrational hatred, it cannot surprise that he felt that drastic measures were needed.

In truth, his actual desecration was surprisingly understated, but that will not stop Bill Donohue and the Catholic League from doing everything in their power to make his life miserable. In the end, as a Protestant who does not believe in transubstantiation, all I can say is that PZ Myers has not in fact done any harm to Jesus, but those who have responded with hatred and death threats have certainly done so. They have proven his point for him, by making Christianity appear to be little more than irrational superstition, and seriously damaged the reputation of Christ in the world.

But to me the most interesting aspect of this incident arises from the fact that he also chose to destroy copies of the Koran and Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion. On the one hand, adding a second form of blasphemy does nothing to diminish the disrespect of the first, but it does at least clarify his point: that to PZ Myers, "Nothing must be held sacred."

If cooler heads were to prevail, this ought to be the take-away lesson: To view a deeply cherished religious symbol as no more than baked bread, a book as no more than ink and paper, indeed a human being as no more than chemicals and electricity, this is not a mark of sophistication. It is, rather, proof of a sadly impoverished worldview. It is rational to condemn the atrocities committed in the name of a flag; it is mere childishness to desecrate and discard such a flag as "just" a piece of cloth. With this stunt, Myers has proven precisely nothing about the meaning of the symbol, he has only proven his own distaste for the sacred.

But I’m afraid that point will be missed in the rush to condemn his blasphemy, as many of those who should recognize the sacred value, not just of a Eucharistic wafer, but of a human being—made in the image of God—will instead treat him with "profound disrespect." And that is the real tragedy in this situation.

33 comments:

Alex Fear said...

It's a very interesting statement "nothing must be held sacred".

Very bold. I assume he doesn't appreciate the flag-burning that occasionally takes place by outraged Muslims in Middle-Eastern countries.

I think I'd like to see him do that next- burn the American flag that is- to prove the point "nothing must be held sacred".

Kudos for including the Koran though, and ultimate kudos for including The God Delusion (itself a holy book of sorts).

Religious people do something stupid it's because of their irrational and bigoted beliefs. Meyers does something stupid and it's in the name of science or to prove some sort of point (which I still don't think he's explained).

Well done for spotting the compound ironies, Ken.

Ken Brown said...

Indeed, I wonder whether his wife would be glad to know that nothing must be held sacred--does that include his wedding vows? After all, a wedding just a silly ceremony, right?

Still, I do have to give him credit for consistency; to destroy Dawkins' book was an unexpected touch of self-deprecation.

Carl Sachs said...

It's one thing to say that nothing is sacred -- quite another to say that nothing is intrinsically valuable. I can see how someone might very plausibly hold that persons (and maybe some animals) are intrinsically valuable; that promises ought to be kept; that virtues such as loyalty, courage, and compassion ought to figure significantly in human life; that the struggle for social justice is worth fighting, etc. --

-- believe all that, I say, without holding that any particular symbol is "sacred" in the sense in which such symbols are usually held to be.

In short, I'm far from convinced that Myers has committed any inconsistency.

Drew said...

The irony is that he does hold things to be sacred, he just chooses not to use the term to describe such things.

Else he would not spend such an inordinate amount of time as a biologist on such a tangential project that is radically misinformed in its social symbolism. I don't really care about the religious part right now. It is the egregious social ignorance of the whole thing that is befuddling from such otherwise intelligent persons that is embarrassing to the academic community in my judgment.

Again, he continues to undermine his own self-professed liberalism with profound ignorance to the social effects of his own positioning in the matter. Donahue is but a media hound and pitbull for a specific group of Catholics as well. Extreme reactions again hold our attention away from anything remotely important about either science or Christianity and that is the tragedy of this crap.

Edward T. Babinski said...

C., you wrote: "To view a deeply cherished religious symbol as no more than baked bread, a book as no more than ink and paper, indeed a human being as no more than chemicals and electricity"

ED: Are all three analogies above strictly the same? A piece of baked bread can't contian all the pertinent and humanly derived information found in a book. And the electro-chemical brain-mind-body of a member of human society, filled with information from thousands of books and thousands of first-hand experiences in an evolving culture, contains far far far more information and interacts in ways far beyond either a book or a piece of baked bread.

Edward T. Babinski, ed. of LEAVING THE FOLD: TESTIMONIES OF FORMER FUNDAMENTALISTS

Ken Brown said...

Carl,
That is a valid objection, but it doesn't really change my point. Perhaps I should have said: "I wonder whether his wife would be glad to know that no symbol must be held sacred--does that include his wedding ring?" If it's "just" a symbol...

Drew,
I quite agree, though I suspect he isn't spending all this time on the subject because he cares about the Eucharist, but because a horde of angry Catholics wont let him forget how much they care, and he wants to burst their "delusion" (not that he has chosen a particularly effective method of doing so!).

David,
To be sure, a human being is of far greater value than a Eucharistic wafer (I said as much in my post), but to intentionally desecrate the latter merely to provoke a reaction is not a rational nor helpful response; it's rather like keying your neighbor's SUV to prove a point about oil consumption. Such is disrespectful both of the object and of the people who hold it dear, and it's no use feigning surprise if they respond with anger rather than reasoned dialogue.

Granted, he did get all of us talking, but that's like justifying the keying of that SUV on the grounds that the local environmentalist group might find it an interesting conversation point, or at least a good joke...

majorsteve said...

I was looking for the video Myers promised but the only thing I could find was a still shot of the Eucharist, The Quran and The God Delusion pierced together with a nail and apparently lying in the kitchen trash can with a banana peel and some coffee grounds on top of it. This is not a video of the act of desecration but only a roaming-eye view of one photo while sappy piano music plays in the background.

When I heard that Myers had included The Quran and The God Delusion in his act I was rather impressed with his balanced approach. But when I was looking at the above mentioned still shot I felt certain the the title page of "The God Delusion" had been included for its the more powerful visual statement and play on words rather than to show that it is also not sacred. To me, it looks like the photo is trying to be portrayed as art. A piece that could be entitled "The God Delusion".

Anonymous said...

The "desecrating" of The God Delusion was hardly the equivalent of the desecration of the Eucharist. Regardless of your thoughts on whether the Eucharist is the actual body of Christ, a reasonable person should be able to see that the cracker is not just a cracker, if only because of the meaning that Catholics attach to the cracker. That fact alone means that Myers should have desecrated something of extreme value/meaning to him. Of course, he isn't going to do that because nobody is going to desecrate something that is of extreme value to themselves. The very fact that he included a copy of The God Delusion in his desecration proves the fact that it is of little value to him and therefore defeats the whole point of including it.

Greg Laden said...

Considering this:

If cooler heads were to prevail, this ought to be the take-away lesson: To view a deeply cherished religious symbol as no more than baked bread, a book as no more than ink and paper, indeed a human being as no more than chemicals and electricity, this is not a mark of sophistication. It is, rather, proof of a sadly impoverished worldview.

There is nothing that links the part about a cracker and a book to the human in anything PZ has said or done, and it conflicts starkly with what he has said and done in the past. This is not even quote mining, it is attributing a very improper thought to a person who has never had that thought and never would. Up to that paragraph, I thought your comments were quite reasonable for a christian, and fair. But giving PZ Myers the attribute of believeing the importance of people to be in the same category as crackers utterly absurd.

Drew said...

C. and if his outcome is to burst delusion as you say, then all he has really done is galvanize and shore up religious resiliency in the face of attack. It's as it he has never considered why 9/11 happened or the effects of same-gender marriage on the religious sentiments he lashes out against. None of these are the result of blithe acceptance of religion, but the result of a reaction against anti-religious (their religious) worldviews.

It's like he has not considered how religions or ideologies react in the face of any kind of perceived or real persecutions. He is just fanning the flames of the thing he hates the most. But maybe that's it. Without a strong reaction, no one would care about the atheist arguments at all. The fact is that Donahue and Myers need each other to legitimate their existence.

Ken Brown said...

Majorsteve,
That is a very interesting possibility that I hadn't considered.

Anonymous,
I certainly agree that the value an atheist places on The God Delusion is nothing compared to the esteem that a pious Catholic holds for the Eucharist.

Greg,
You're point is important enough to deserve its own post. See here for my response.

Drew,
Well said, especially the second paragraph.

Anonymous said...

He could have at least composted the banana skin. Wasteful.

Ken Brown said...

And all that paper could have been recycled! Scandalous!

Oh, and in my previous comment, "you're" should be "your" (If I didn't point that out, it would drive me crazy for the rest of the day).

N. Adam said...

Ken Brown: husband, father, grad student. How do you find the time to follow the status of a single, unfortunate wafer? Well, however you do, thanks sincerely for giving the most levelheaded commentary on the matter that I have read in any blog. I am afraid, however, that you might be guilty of the same crime of which you accuse PZ Meyers. See, the Koran is also deeply sacred to millions of people, yet why is it that you do not seem to be nearly as personally offended over its desecration? If it is true that symbols are more than the sum of their parts, and Myers' materialistic appeal is so inadequate, might one expect present company to be equally as upset, on a personal level, over the desecration of both symbols?

I submit that although symbols represent something greater than their molecular structure, all symbols are not equally as important to all people. PZ Myers does not desecrate the American flag because he is an American; most Americans get offended at the sight of desecrated wafer, rather than the Koran, because Christianity is a strong part of American culture; PZ Myers, being an atheist who resents religion, finds sacredness in neither. The simple fact is that Eucharist and American flag are different symbols that represent different things to different people. Therefore, one cannot substitute one symbol for another, as interchangeably as you do, as though you were setting up some abstract thought experiment.

Speaking for myself, the Eucharist represents archaic notions of human sacrifice with an unfortunate peppering of emulated cannibalism. The American flag represents secular democracy and freedom of speech. There are reasons why the desecration of one offends me while the desecration of the other does not. That you, personally, find value in both might the reason you assumed such an analogy was apt. It was not.

Ken Brown said...

N. Adam,
My concern has never been with the wafer itself, but with the people (and especially the excessive reactions) on both sides of this mess. In the flood of overreaction, I’ve been trying to offer a note of caution and moderation.

You are certainly correct to imply that the desecration of a Koran is no less serious a matter than the desecration of a Eucharistic wafer, and if I've focused more attention on the latter you're probably right that it's because it is more personally relevant to me (even though I'm not Catholic). But to say that my lack of attention to the Koran is in any way comparable to Myers' active destruction of one is patently absurd.

As for your contrast between these religious symbols and the American flag, I'm afraid you have missed my point. Are we only to respect those symbols that we ourselves hold dear? Just because Myers himself does not agree with the ideas these symbols stand for doesn't justify his sacrilege, any more than someone who didn't believe in marriage would be justified in willfully desecrating someone else's wedding ring. Myers doesn't have to agree with religious ideas or symbolism—heck, he can condemn them as loudly as he wants—but it is hardly too much to ask that he not to go out of his way to deceptively acquire and publicly destroy such symbols.

N. Adam said...

Are we only to respect those symbols that we ourselves hold dear?

Does the fact that there are Hindus that worship cows prevent anyone eating beef?

Ken Brown said...

No, but it ought to make you think twice before posting images of a slaughtered cow on your prominent scienceblog with the title "The Great Desecration" attached to a long screed against Hinduism. You don't seriously believe such a stunt would convince any Hindu to reject their religion, do you? Would it not more likely convince them of the irrationality and disrespect of the one posting the picture?

N. Adam said...

No, but it ought to make you think twice before posting images of a slaughtered cow on your prominent scienceblog with the title "The Great Desecration" attached to a long screed against Hinduism.

But then you wouldn't care. The Koran is sacred to thousands more than cows are and you've barely batted an eye at its desecration. It is safe to say that the act in question would not receive nearly as much attention because Christians like yourself only care when Christian symbols are defaced. And why shouldn't you? You are a Christian after all.

As I said before, symbols mean different things to different people. Just as the desecration of the Koran and the desecration of a sacred wafer are two completely different matters to you, so is desecrating a sacred wafer and desecrating an American flag different matters for PZ Myers.

Ken Brown said...

Yes but I'm not the one claiming that it's ok to desecrate someone else's symbol. It is one thing not to care (there are an infinite number of things to care about in the world—you have to pick your battles); it is something else entirely to actively and publicly disrespect another person's sensibilities.

Would you care as much if your neighbor's car got keyed as if your own did? Would the difference in your concern make any difference at all to the disrespect shown by the person who did the keying? The whole point of my providing alternative illustrations is to make clear that the way it feels when your cherished symbol is desecrated is the same way it feels to someone else when their cherished symbol is desecrated. I don’t expect everyone to care about the same symbols—I certainly don't expect Myers to care about a Catholic symbol—but I surely expect those who claim decency and rationality to respect the values of others, even those they do not share.

N. Adam said...

The whole point of my providing alternative illustrations is to make clear that the way it feels when your cherished symbol is desecrated is the same way it feels to someone else when their cherished symbol is desecrated.

Do keep that in mind the next time you're chowing down on a burger.

Ken Brown said...

Oh for pity's sake! Rather than continue to repeat myself, let me just remind you of my 11:48 comment and leave it at that.

N. Adam said...

Oh for pity's sake! Rather than continue to repeat myself, let me just remind you of my 11:48 comment and leave it at that.

Not to beat what is quickly becoming a dead horse, but I responded to your 11:48 comment with my 12:30 comment. In summation, you wouldn't care if Myers publicly desecrated ground beef with the intention of humiliating some Hindus because you are not a Hindu. You obviously do not want non-Hindus to show respect for Hindu symbols but you do want non-Christians to show respect for Christian symbols. The only thing I am saying is that your view on Hinduism is analogous Myers' view on Christianity.

Persuaded? Ah, well. At least I tried. Keep up the good work anyway.

Ken Brown said...

What have I said that would give you the impression that I "obviously do not want non-Hindus to show respect for Hindu symbols"?

There is a difference between showing respect by not publicly ("and with much fanfare" as Myers put it) violating the sensibilities of others, and privately neglecting to follow them. I wouldn't knowingly eat a burger in front of a Hindu, and I certainly would not make a show of killing a cow to prove how ridiculous Hinduism is. Indeed, if I were to do so, I would fully expect to get lambasted by thoughtful Hindu's as disrespectful and intolerant, and they would be right to object! But none of that that need prevent me from eating beef in the privacy of my own home.

In the same way, Myers is welcome to make his own communion wafers and do whatever he feels like with them in the privacy of his own home, but this is something else.

Nevertheless, I don't want this side discussion to distract from the central point of my post, which was that however disrespectful Myers is being, the hate mail and death threats he has recieve are far worse.

N. Adam said...

I wouldn't knowingly eat a burger in front of a Hindu, and I certainly would not make a show of killing a cow to prove how ridiculous Hinduism is. Indeed, if I were to do so, I would fully expect to get lambasted by thoughtful Hindu's as disrespectful and intolerant, and they would be right to object! But none of that that need prevent me from eating beef in the privacy of my own home.

On the point of privacy, recall that it is not that Myers is desecrating just to desecrate. This whole thing started when Webster Cook, who had no intention on making a public show, took the sacred wafer from a church and Bill Donahue, in accusing the guy of kidnapping, who made the private actions of and individual a public affair. Not Myers.

Secondly, I do not buy that you are simply objecting to the publicity of this stunt, beyond the fact that you would have no way of objecting to it if it were not public. Methinks you would also find "off-camera" and unadvertised desecrations offensive and hateful (just as Hindus would find the eating of beef) as well.

Thirdly, it is worth noting that Myers did not kill a live cow but a dead wafer. From a purely secular perspective, one bleeds and the other does not.

Ken Brown said...

This whole thing started when Webster Cook, who had no intention on making a public show, took the sacred wafer from a church. [It was] Bill Donahue, in accusing the guy of kidnapping, who made the private actions of and individual a public affair.

As a matter of fact and despite early reports, Webster Cook did take the wafer to make a public show. As a Student Senator at UCF he, apparently, took the host (against the explicit objections of the congregation) in order to raise awareness for his campaign to end the school's sponsorship of a Catholic Campus Ministry. Cook himself made the incident public, though I agree with you that Donohue is the one at fault for turning it into a national incident (rather than a local matter, where it should have stayed).

Secondly, I do not buy that you are simply objecting to the publicity of this stunt, beyond the fact that you would have no way of objecting to it if it were not public.

I don't know how else I can emphasize the difference between private disregard and public desecration. You are welcome to believe that I don't really accept the difference, but you are mistaken.

Thirdly, it is worth noting that Myers did not kill a live cow but a dead wafer.

Quite true, but hardly relevant. In both cases the non-believer perceives nothing sacred in something that the believer sees as divine. On the other hand, if you to reject my distinction between public and private, then Hinduism ought to pose a much greater problem for you than Catholicism. For such would imply that no one, anywhere could morally eat beef (nor shellfish or pork or reptile, etc., if you add to it the taboos of Judaism and Islam), whereas all the Catholics are asking is that non-believers don't take communion. That's it. Since almost no non-Christians (Myers himself included) feels any compulsion to do so except to prove a point, what is so unreasonable about their objection to its public desecration?

N. Adam said...

As a matter of fact and despite early reports, Webster Cook did take the wafer to make a public show. As a Student Senator at UCF he, apparently, took the host (against the explicit objections of the congregation) in order to raise awareness for his campaign to end the school's sponsorship of a Catholic Campus Ministry.

I did not know that. I guess I stopped following the affairs of Cook when the Myers thing broke out. Thank you for pointing that out anyway.

I don't know how else I can emphasize the difference between private disregard and public desecration. You are welcome to believe that I don't really accept the difference, but you are mistaken.

You may well accept a difference with respect to its venue, but I doubt that your opinion of the action itself shifts one iota.

On the other hand, if you to reject my distinction between public and private, then Hinduism ought to pose a much greater problem for you than Catholicism. For such would imply that no one, anywhere could morally eat beef (nor shellfish or pork or reptile, etc., if you add to it the taboos of Judaism and Islam), whereas all the Catholics are asking is that non-believers don't take communion. That's it. Since almost no non-Christians (Myers himself included) feels any compulsion to do so except to prove a point, what is so unreasonable about their objection to its public desecration?

I am sorry, but I don't follow.

Ken Brown said...

I think where you are misunderstanding me lies in the distinction (which I suppose I have not spelled out before now) between blasphemy and disrespect. Myers does and should have the legal right to do both, but they are not strictly the same and the difference helps explain what I am saying about public and private.

I view disrespect as socially reprehensible and thoroughly unhelpful, and I think it ought the beneath the dignity of any civilized person (I am speaking of the disrespect of a person or group of people; I don’t believe it reprehensible to disrespect an idea). Blasphemy, on the other hand, should only be socially reprehensible if it is conducted as a public show, in which case it becomes a matter of disrespect. Privately* conducted blasphemy is not disrespectful to anyone and should not be socially reprehensible, or at least only minimally so (whether a given action is morally reprehensible is between the potential blasphemer and God—if such a God exists, of course—and no business of the law, nor of secular society).

Therefore, since Myers' actions were public and intended to mock the sensibilities of Catholics, I consider them extremely disrespectful, and would say the same no matter what religion they were directed towards (whether I would feel as strongly is irrelevant, cf. my keying of cars example). Whereas if he or anyone else were to privately create their own communion wafers and destroy them, even in the most degrading possible way, I would consider it juvenile and in poor taste, but not particularly disrespectful nor socially reprehensible. What Myers does in the privacy of his own acquaintances is their business, not mine, and the fact that some people think a certain action unconscionable is no reason for those who disagree to constrain their actions to suit.

Which brings me to the part of my last comment that you didn't follow: Catholics, in general, are not asking Myers to unduly constrain his actions. All they are asking is that he keep his hands off things that are not his, which seems a pretty minimal demand. The Eucharist belongs to the Catholic Church, plain and simple, and is given only to those believed to be Catholics "in a state of grace" (of which, you will note, I am not one). They are not saying that anyone who eats bread without due respect for Jesus is a blasphemer (like Hindus who claim anyone who eats beef is a blasphemer); all they are saying is that, if you are going to take their consecrated wafers, you must do so according to their rules, one of which is that it be consumed “in faith.” That is hardly an unreasonable request.

*I should also add that even if blasphemy (according to a particular religion) is committed publicly, if it is not done out of intentional disrespect then I don't think see anything wrong with it. For instance, when non-Catholic Sally Quinn took communion at Tim Russert's funeral, I do not believe her conduct was in any way reprehensible nor disrespectful. Perhaps it was in poor taste, but that is a relatively trivial matter, in my view. In that case, the Catholic League's response (calling it “nauseating”) was not only completely over-the-top, but was categorically wrong and itself reprehensible and disrespectful.

N. Adam said...

I view disrespect as socially reprehensible and thoroughly unhelpful, and I think it ought the beneath the dignity of any civilized person (I am speaking of the disrespect of a person or group of people; I don’t believe it reprehensible to disrespect an idea).

I am glad you qualified that because, from my perspective, I don't see one from another. Religion is not the color of your skin, your sexual orientation, your gender, nor your country of origin. Religion is the only idea that you are not allowed to ridicule openly. Why? Because you can't.

All they are asking is that he keep his hands off things that are not his, which seems a pretty minimal demand.

OK. The wafer was, supposedly, surrendered willfully with no expectation of its return, then mailed to Myers. Deceptive? Yes. But legally, it was his property.

Ken Brown said...

OK. The wafer was, supposedly, surrendered willfully with no expectation of its return, then mailed to Myers. Deceptive? Yes. But legally, it was his property.

The Catholic Church did not mail the wafer to Myers, nor would they do so. It does not become his property just because someone else sent it to him. If it was acquired deceptively (by presenting oneself as a faithful Catholic who will immediately consume it, when in fact you intend for it to be desecrated) then it was never the sender's property to begin with, and cannot legitimately be given to Myers.

N. Adam said...

If it was acquired deceptively (by presenting oneself as a faithful Catholic who will immediately consume it, when in fact you intend for it to be desecrated) then it was never the sender's property to begin with, and cannot legitimately be given to Myers.

Sorry, but possession is nine-tenths of the law. Once someone gives you something, unless there is a "Terms of Use" verbal or written contract, it is yours to destroy.

Ken Brown said...

possession is nine-tenths of the law.

I don't know enough about the law to judge this common statement, but I never claimed what Myers did was illegal, only that it was deceptive. No one who proposes to criticize Catholicism's view of the Eucharist can be so ignorant of it as not to know that it is given only to those "in a state of grace" with the assumption that it will be consumed "in faith." To acquire it for any other purpose is deceptive. It's probably legal (this would be an oppressive nation indeed if deceit were in all cases illegal), but that doesn't change the fact that such a wafer would have been aquired illegitimately.

I'll get back to your other two comments tonight. Right now, we're going to the park.

Alex Fear said...

I suspect N. Adam is being intentionally disingenuous and committing an inductive fallacy in the process.

Sorry, but possession is nine-tenths of the law. Once someone gives you something, unless there is a "Terms of Use" verbal or written contract, it is yours to destroy.

If it is considered silly that the Catholic Church should claim a simply cracker is their property, it is equally silly that someone should argue from a perspective on the law how the cracker does not.

In case you don't understand what I mean. Imagine two children in a playground arguing. When the teacher pulls them aside they both argue the other called them names. They are both in the wrong and therefore the teacher should make both stand facing the wall.

Like it or not we live in a society where you don't retaliate, you don't become a vigilante or you are treated with the same law used to judge the offender.

Now regarding crackergate, it does seem ridiculous that so much controversy should be created over a wafer, however it is a symbol for some. If you lost your wedding ring and I was to find it, it would be a symbol for you, but for me it's money from the pawn broker.

It's one thing for me to take your wedding ring to the pawn broker because I don't believe in marriage and I'm simply interested in money, it's another thing for me to steal your wedding ring then post pictures of me selling it or melting it with a diatribe against you and your wife, and how I find your marriage to be a sham.

Perhaps we were to use something you own that contains no symbolism. What if I were to visit your house, sit and eat a meal with you. During the meal you give me cutlery and explain how I am to use it, and at the end of the meal I am to return it to you.

Suppose I then steal a tea-spoon? Do you worship the tea-spoon? Do you hold it in a higher regard than the other tea-spoons you own? So why do you care if I take it?

OK a tea-spoon is not a perishable good, so let's say for the meal you prepared a small special gift for us all to take away. A memento and reminder of your hospitality.

I now own the gift, I can do with it what I want, so how would you feel if I took it and stuck a rusty nail in it, took a photo and posted it on the web. "Look what that dummy N. Adam gave me and look what I did with it!"

How would you feel? Angry? Betrayed? Upset? What an idiot?

Now I think most Catholics are not really upset by this, and you will find that most protestant Christians don't even care, but the few that do are not really offended either, they just see it as disrespectful in general (showing the character of the man) and strange that PZ Meyers betrays his hate so easily.

Jeremy Pierce said...

Myers is a fool. Consider the Catholic view. According to transsubstantiation, the thing Myers did this too (if it was indeed the host as Catholics define it and not some cracker he got some other way) is literally Jesus, the same Jesus who was pierced by swords, spears, and rusty nails on the cross. He didn't do anything that hasn't already been done, according to the Catholic view. In fact, Myers himself (along with the rest of humanity) was already the cause of Jesus' death, and thus he'd already done the thing that he so proudly did.

Of course, if the Catholic view is wrong, then he did nothing of much significance except the immoral act of deliberately trying to cause offense to a large group of people, most of whom are very peace-loving, which is nothing at all to proud of.

So I repeat: Myers is a fool.