I suppose its time to weigh in on the Wafergate
incident playing out on Pharyngula (better late than never, eh?).
First off, I’d like to comment on communion wafers themselves:
Communion wafers are crap. They are utterly tasteless, insubstantial, and have a texture like really weak cardboard. They border on being unfit for human consumption. To all you Catholics out there, you’d probably be better off horribly desecrating your wafers like PZ wants to rather than actually eating them. In fact, I have a theory that the original kid who stole the communion wafer did so because, when he put it in his mouth, it was so bland and unappetizing that he just couldn’t stand to swallow it.*
PZ probably shouldn’t be referring to them as crackers. My wife is Protestant – they don’t believe in transubstantiation - but they do use actual little broken pieces of crackers for their communion, and sometimes even real bread. My wife really wants to try a communion wafer because they are “so small and cute.” She has a thing for tiny food items, like sushi or those little stubby ~200 mL cans of pop. Strange, I know. Regardless, if she ever tries the communion wafers she will be disappointed.
Speaking of using little broken cracker pieces for communion, I’m thinking that cracker companies are really losing out on product placement deals and opportunities for expanding into new markets. Imagine Ritz
brand communion crackers and (insert TV sports announcer voice) St. Mary’s Cathedral Communion Break – Brought to you by Nabisco
, and you’ll see the possibilities are limitless.
Second, I’d like to comment on whether PZ’s remarks were inappropriate:
Yes, they were inappropriate, but so what? It’s still funny. I think the debate is: do PZ’s inflammatory cracker threats hurt or help the godless cause?
Hemant at Friendly Atheist
thinks it does no good whatsoever:
At the same time, trying to obtain a consecrated communion wafer for the sole purpose of destroying it serves absolutely no positive purpose. Now, you’re just trying to piss off Catholics.
Why bother? What good does it do to rub this in their face?
Does anyone really think that this act will cause any Catholic to say, "Oh! You are right! That is a crazy belief! Thanks, PZ!"
Now, I’m sure most Catholics will either just shake their heads in mild disgust at PZ’s antics or send in hate mail/death threats. Certainly no positive purpose there, and quite possibly some negative results.
That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Hemant’s last line actually does play out a few times. You’d be surprised at the number of Catholics who are just going with the flow and don’t actually know what they’re supposed to believe. I can certainly picture the likely response of many of my (only mildly) believing friends at Catholic school: "That’s what transubstantiation means? That's messed-up. It's only a freakin' wafer!"
They certainly won't say, "Oh! You are right! Thanks!" but hoping for a big slap of rational thought right in the face isn’t out of the question here.
I’ve always said that we need both loud, obnoxious unfriendlies (PZ etc) and friendlies (Hemant etc) to make the most change. Would 140+ people comment on Hemant’s friendly post on communion wafers if not for PZ's Wafergate scheme? I don’t think so.
So keep on being rude and inflammatory. As long as nicer atheists are there to clean up the mess, that is.* When I attended a Catholic highschool, I spent the first couple of years taking communion during school mass. Those wafers are most unappetizing. I didn't want to draw attention to myself as a heathen outsider during those early years - bad for the rep, especially if any overzealous teachers are watching. It was only after I established myself as a top student in the eyes of the teachers that I stopped. I still took it on some days when I was desperately hungry and needed something, anything, to sustain me until lunch.
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