Saturday, October 07, 2006

Food for the soul?

Question: Who in their right mind would stand up at the dinner table and say, "Hey guys, listen up. You see these morsels I've broken off from the loaves of challah, ciabatta, brioche, and pain de mie (pullman)? Well, these are actually my body. Hey, no snickering over there. I'm not kidding. And no, I'm not saying they represent or symbolize my biological tissue. These are truly, really, literally me. Here, have some. Sure, it tastes like bread, and yeah I sure hell know any and all physical and chemical analyses will reveal it to be gelatinized starch, saccharides, proteins, fats and oils, and yeast, but you gotta take my word that it is me. When you munch on it you in fact are eating me. Yeah, yeah, I know that's cannibalism any way you look at it, but, hey, every time you do this you will be remember me, long after I'm gone. And more than just making sure you don't forget moi, eating me is the way you will without a shadow of a doubt take me into you. This is really 'in - corporating' me (for those who weren't paying attention to the Romans, that's from the Latin corpus, meaning 'body'). So come on guys, take and eat. Bite into me!"

Who in their right mind would believe this looney? And who would actually get duped into performing the cannibalistic ritual?

Well, when it comes to feasting on a (supposed) 2,000-year old corpse that got up, walked about, and was finally beamed up to the mother ship (heaven) to resume his invisible god status (remember though, the Vatican says Jeebus is fully human and fully divine), Catholics win hands down in stupendous nuttiness. I mean, they actually queue up, weekly, to get a serving of their hero! (In fairness, if they start passing Danish butter and baguettes along with those wafers, I'd line up too.)

But let's assume that these gullibles are actually ingesting this man called Jeebus. In that case I have some nutrition, dietary, and medical questions about their cannibal fare: How many calories is Jeebus? Isn't ingesting a whole human weighing some 150 pounds kind of fattening? Getting that much meat surely increases bad cholesterol levels with adverse consequences for cardiovascular health. And what about Jeebus' colon and all its pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli? Shouldn't his entrails be removed first before being devoured? Another important consideration: Is Jeebus served raw or is he cooked? Raw meat of course presents another health hazard. On the other hand, if he's cooked, I'm curious as whether he's deep fried, roasted, baked, steamed, or whatnot. Does he come out medium rare or well done? What seasonings, herbs and spices--if any--are used? (Judging by the taste of those wafers, he could use a little more salt).

Some will sheepishly offer the lame excuse that what is being offered and swallowed is Jeebus' spiritual body and spiritual blood. But what the heck are "spiritual body" and "spiritual blood"? Do they have size, shape, mass, color, taste, smell, electrical charge, refractive index, ...? Has anyone seen, detected, measured spiritual body and blood? If this "body" isn't muscle tissue, lipids, dermal layers, has no DNA and no cytology, and if this "blood" isn't human serum, doesn't have a blood type, no rhesus factor, is not composed of erythrocytes, phagocytes, platelets, plasma, and protein, then what are they? If no one can explain what it is and no one has actually verified its existence, then what meaning is there in talking about these things? And why must these spiritual whatever be literally chewed, swallowed, drank? Since ingestion is part of the ritual then what and why cannibalism of the spirit? This deity and his "spirit" (whatever that is) has to go through the mouth and digestive system? What is it with eating this superhuman/god-man? Duh!

Kooky, wacko, nuts. There's just no other way of describing this ritual of feasting on a god-man--because it is completely anachronistic. We no longer are hunter-gatherers of yore. We study cannibalism in socio-anthropology classes; we don't engage in this behavior. In fact such action is proscribed.

And as if that were not enough, educated men actually believe--with much pride and reverence--that they can perform the magic trick of turning flour into flesh! Think about that. Adult males, a good number of them past middle age, in all seriousness chant what amounts to magic words over wafers and wine, actually believing that by virtue of their official status and the formulistic words they utter they can and will in fact cause flour to become the flesh of their deity. Look at it this way. Were I to seriously and adamantly claim that I can transform ballpens into the hand of my god (and that these pens will in my hand produce revelations from God) merely by raising my arms to the heavens, closing my eyes, and reciting some magic words over the pens, I would be dismissed as being a scammer or being off my rockers. Now how different is the claim by and belief of the men in Rome? A delusion subscribed to for centuries by hundreds of thousands is still a delusion!

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