The controversy continues to unfold. Instead of getting actual work done today, I spent most of it chasing blog posts about the Great Cracker Controversy through the blogosphere, reading comments and laughing my arse off at some of the most beautiful smack-downs I've seen in a long time. The best raging argument I've seen so far that's short enough to follow is in Ed Brayton's delightful post on the subject.
I now have ammunition for all of those "respect my religion!" bleaters. I hope I never have to hear another damned word about Communion wafers and the profaning thereof, but if I have to debate someone over the mess, I don't think they're necessarily going to like the result now.
Three things have completely stolen the outraged Catholic's thunder for me, completely aside from the fact that, as an atheist, I don't think any religion deserves extraordinary respect and universal reverence for its sillyness.
Firstly, there was the fact that my own dear NP took the calm view of the situation. As a Catholic, she could've assumed the outrage position, but she didn't.
Secondly, there's the little gem of information I stumbled across today that people in the Middle Ages used to take the damned things home for good luck. (And yes, if you're wondering: Rev. AJB is an actual reverend. I think he probably knows church history.)
Thirdly, there's my best friend. Since he's a Christian whose church, while not Catholic, celebrates Communion - I believe they call it the Lord's Supper, but I could be wrong here - I figured he'd be on the "PZ Myers is a bad, bad man!" side. Instead, when the subject came up (as it inevitably did), he started chuckling, then laughing from the belly, and then said, enunciating every syllable, "It's. A. Krac-kur."
And yes, that is the spelling we've settled upon: krac-kur. This is going to be our catch phrase for years to come.
His church is definitely not on the transubstantiation side - if it's not expressly spelled out in the Bible, they don't buy it - and so they don't have the "You're kidnapping Christ!" syndrome. In fact, I came away from that conversation with the impression that, if asked, they might just ship PZ a whole box of sanctified wafers to have his way with. After all, they're just krac-kurs.
Garrett and I agree on very few things religious these days, but on this issue, we're in perfect accord. Refreshing, that.
I've spent entirely too much time thinking about this whole issue today. It's forced me to search my own (metaphorical) soul to discover why, exactly, PZ's provocation didn't bother me. After all, I don't believe in going out of one's way to be offensive. Love, respect, and toleration would be welcome additions to the world.
And those are exactly the things the Catholics involved in this debacle didn't show.
They blew a minor situation completely out of proportion. The original transgression, by their own teachings, should have been handled with grace, compassion, and understanding. Yes, the young man who absconded with the Host should have known better. But he hadn't even left the damned church. Would it seriously have been so much trouble to just simply ask, "What are you doing? Showing your friend? You plan to complete the ritual afterward? Fine, then. Next time you want to satisfy someone's curiosity, just talk to the priest first instead of taking matters into your own - ah ha ha - hands."
Instead, they overreacted to the point where Webster Cook decided it necessary to teach them a lesson. And from there, they escalated to threats, more threats, death threats (which I have yet to see condemned by the Church, by the way), and the whole mess spilled over into the secular sphere, where it manifestly does not belong.
PZ blew a hole in their hyperbole by offering to show them precisely what real desecration looks like. He showed them up for what they are by incurring their wrath: bullies. Far from being a reasonable bunch we can share a dialogue and eventually come to an understanding with, they've demonstrated that there's no middle ground: if we don't pander to their every religious whim, we become targets of threats to our jobs and our lives.
They haven't earned the slightest bit of love, respect or toleration.
PZ stood up to a bunch of bullies, and I respect him immensely for it.
I want you to understand that I'm not applying this to all Catholics. I think NP shows that there are plenty of Catholics out there who aren't utterly unhinged. I think there's plenty of room for love, respect and toleration, but it has to be mutual. With people like her, Garrett and other amiable Christians, it absolutely is.
Not so much with bullies. And I think we all know what happens if you don't stand up to bullies.