Pharyngula

Point and laugh

We live in a world of lunatics. You want a baby? Then go sit in a chair owned by Saint Mary Frances of the Five Wounds. She was an 18th century weirdo who threw her life away in pointless self-flagellation, so it’s only natural that 21st century deluded irrationalists would think her furniture carries magic powers that would potentiate fertility rites.

Hair shirts and a whip hanging from the walls remind pilgrims of the grim “voluntary penance” the saint adopted after joining the strict order of Saint Peter of Alcantara.

As the religious name she took suggests, she was believed to carry the “stigmata” or wounds of Jesus. She was the first woman saint born in Naples, but there is no hint in her life story as to why her help is sought by childless women in particular.

“Are you married?” Sister Maria Giuliana whispers to a young woman sitting on the armchair, before touching the visitor’s breast and belly with a “monstrance” or reliquiary containing a vertebra and a lock of hair from the saint.

What a ridiculous waste.

Oh, but I forgot. We’re supposed to respect the religious impulse. Screw that—laugh. These jokers are absurd.

Comments

  1. #1 ennui
    December 3, 2007

    Yeah, and in the late 18th century, respectable men from all over Europe used to pay goodly sums of money to sit in St. Thomas Equinas’ chair (to make it, ahem, bigger). Until in 1794, when someone pointed out the spelling mistake. Enjoy the snow!

  2. #2 Sven DiMilo
    December 3, 2007

    Magic chairs!
    Magic vertebrae!
    Magic hair from a long-dead nunatic!
    But witchcraft (and JK Rowling books) is teh Evil!
    I think I’m starting to get it…do they have hair shirts at The Gap?

  3. #3 Pleco
    December 3, 2007

    LOL! Sounds like something from Monty Python to me…which makes it very sad/funny.

  4. #4 garth
    December 3, 2007

    ….they touch you with a vertebra?

    fugg, religion is just GROSS sometimes.

  5. #5 garth
    December 3, 2007

    check that, it’s gross all the time. I forgot about the mental torture, delusion, and hypocrisy. my bad.

  6. #6 Janine
    December 3, 2007

    I do not think this is the dreaded comfy chair.

  7. #7 T_U_T
    December 3, 2007

    has anyone tested it ? I mean, double blind experiment of course….
    Would be fun if it worked – make one virgin self-torture during her life, so that the next generation can improve their fertility. A catholic version of The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas ?
    Fortunately, we unbelievers have tortureless IVF…

  8. #8 Blake Stacey
    December 3, 2007

    Why not just rub yourself on a statue of Min? That’s probably more likely to give you some “fringe benefits” along the way.

  9. #9 Hank
    December 3, 2007

    Personally, I prefer a Fatboy, but then again I’m not really the getting pregnant type.

  10. #10 Blake Stacey
    December 3, 2007

    Incidentally, every advocate of NOMA should be up in arms about this, shouldn’t they?

  11. #11 Mrs Tilton
    December 3, 2007

    Clearly your exposure to High Romanism is lacking, PZ, if you think this weird. Trust me, this is absolutely bog-standard stuff. If you’re ready for something harder, check out the Purgatory Museum in Rome, or any decent old Latin American church (some of those in Mexico may actually feature Cthulhu among the carvings).

  12. #12 Uber
    December 3, 2007

    Every single time I hear a catholic bash on some Protestant group for being silly I quickly remind them of saints and stuff like this. There is simply no more whacky religion on planet earth than the catholism.

    They may tolerate evolution but thats about the extent of their advantage over any Protestant group- and many Protestant groups won’t even give that one to them.

    They are a bizarre sect.

  13. #13 Ex-drone
    December 3, 2007

    You want a baby? Then go sit in a chair owned by Saint Mary Frances of the Five Wounds.

    You would increase your odds if you sit in the backseat of a Pontiac Firebird of the Two Doors.

  14. #14 BigHeathenMike
    December 3, 2007

    That that belief exists at the same time as the internet is hilarious. Absolutely hilarious.

  15. #15 mojoandy
    December 3, 2007

    At the risk of taking the thread off-topic (tell me to screw off or point me constructively elsewhere), I’d like to ask for some advice from any atheists here with children (I count myself in that group): in the absence of regular church going, do you do anything with your children on a regular basis to connect with a like-minded community?

    The background: I was raised RC and have shaken off as much of it as I can (I sometimes have that subconscious “don’t believe in God, but I’m scared of him anyway” aftertaste in my brain, but it’s fading). One thing that does hang around are some collateral Christmas traditions, particularly the Ukrainian ones my family practiced (yes, so they’re mostly about food).

    So early December every year I go to the local Ukrainian parish bazaar and load up on the excellent Baba-made pirogies, cabbage rolls, borscht, etc. to store up for Xmas eve. Hey, reminds me of my parents and I love sour cream.

    While in the bazaar I couldn’t help notice the families happily socializing, raising money for Chernobyl charities, and the general warmth of the community environment. Again, this brought back great memories of my childhood (minus being taught about burning in hell, etc).

    What options do atheist families have for similar community-spirit functions? I know some who go Unitarian, but that’s not for me. I’m specifically looking for something my young kids could get into, that involves regular positive community socializing with other young families (and perhaps charity work), but no religious ties.

  16. #16 JIM JORDAN
    December 3, 2007

    It is a fact that insane peope do not know that they are
    insane, and the biigest insanity of all is religion.
    As Wendy Kaminer said: “An empty mind is a recepticle
    for faith”. This insanity will prevail as long as there
    are humans on this planet.

  17. #17 Rey Fox
    December 3, 2007

    *point* HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

    Too bad we don’t quite have anything equivalent here in America. I don’t think they let you touch anything at the shrine of St. Elvis of Tupelo.

    “I’m specifically looking for something my young kids could get into, that involves regular positive community socializing with other young families (and perhaps charity work), but no religious ties.”

    Little League?

  18. #18 Tommy
    December 3, 2007

    I would go there, if only to sneak a thumbtack onto the chair and then watch what happens when one of the faithful tries to sit on it.

  19. #19 Dan
    December 3, 2007

    Well, I suppose this chair does conform to the standards of abstinence-only sex-ed.

  20. #20 Carlie
    December 3, 2007

    mojoandy – there was a thread here that discussed this just a few weeks ago; search the archives and you ought to come across it. It was in November, I think. It went on for awhile, but the general answer to that question was, well, there’s not anything, really. Not with that feel to it.

  21. #21 SteveM
    December 3, 2007

    “What options do atheist families have for similar community-spirit functions? I know some who go Unitarian, but that’s not for me. I’m specifically looking for something my young kids could get into, that involves regular positive community socializing with other young families (and perhaps charity work), but no religious ties.”

    How about Scouting? While not completely atheistic, there are no overtly religious aspects to it.

  22. #22 Peter McGrath
    December 3, 2007

    I’ve been in a mass where desperately sick people queued up to venerate (and be blessed by) the blackened, clenched, shrivelled hand of one of Edmund Arrowsmith, one of the recusant priests martyred in England during the reformation. He’d been hanged, drawn and quartered (see how Christians love each other, as that fuckup St Paul observed). At some point after the grisly proceedings his hand was detached and kept for venerations and miracle working. Obviously. It looks like the hand of a man who has died in extreme pain.

    I saw a young woman with that parchment-skinned look of imminent death about her being supported as she walked to have this thing (encased in a glass and silver reliquary) touched to her forehead. Pointing and laughing wasn’t appropriate, but I was inwardly appalled at the cruel fraud perpetrated on a sick young woman and, for that matter the rest of the congregation.

  23. #23 Brownian, OM
    December 3, 2007

    How about Scouting? While not completely atheistic, there are no overtly religious aspects to it.

    What? The Scouts are overtly Christian (and they don’t like them gays none too much, neither.) However, I’m sure if you shop around, you’ll be able to find a troop where the God aspect isn’t pushed so much.

  24. #24 Cathy W
    December 3, 2007

    How about Scouting? While not completely atheistic, there are no overtly religious aspects to it.

    That’s only true if the children in question are girls – Girl Scouting officially considers religious belief or lack thereof to be a completely personal matter. (Unofficially, individual troop leaders can be a problem sometimes, but they’re the exception rather than the rule.)

    Boy Scouts of the USA, on the other hand, is an overtly religious group – they do require belief in God, considering it to be part of “living a morally upright life”. Every once in a while, you hear about an Eagle Scout who was a closeted atheist having his Eagleness revoked because their nonbelief came to light. I’ve heard the absolute intransigence of the organization on this issue (and also gays) blamed on the LDS Church – they are apparently one of the biggest supporters of the Boy Scouts.

    Campfire is a similar organization, but totally secular – but it’s not as common anymore.

  25. #25 H. Humbert
    December 3, 2007

    The best which can be said of religion (and it ain’t much), is that it provides hope to the forlorn and desperate. But since it is a false hope, it really amounts to nothing more than a meaningless preoccupation meant to distract the dejected from their despair. This same effect can be achieved by playing a game of checkers or reading a book, and much more cheaply besides. It is difficult to conceive of a more extravagantly useless waste of time than religion. I suppose that is its draw.

  26. #26 gerald spezio
    December 3, 2007

    Jim, Wendy Kaminer’s brain is so full of lawyering and legal training that she can only think of salvation through lawyers playing courtroom.

    Wendy Kaminer also says that innocent young people with college degrees are receptacles for learning the legal trade and how to milk a client.

  27. #27 Kseniya
    December 3, 2007

    Brownian is correct. Both my brothers have been through Scouts, and while the program has much to recommend it, there is a “Duty To God” requirement. They don’t push it too hard in ‘burbs here The People’s Republic, and the requirement offers what I think of as a “soft” fulfillment option, which I believe involves simply being able do identify a number of common religious symbols rather than requiring one to have the Nicean Creed tattooed on one’s forehead (or some such thing).

  28. #28 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    December 3, 2007

    before touching the visitor’s breast and belly with a “monstrance” or reliquiary containing a vertebra and a lock of hair from the saint.

    creepy

    Waving around human body parts… very odd. I wonder if Marilyn Manson is RC?

  29. #29 Sven DiMilo
    December 3, 2007

    They are a bizarre sect.
    What? They are the One True Church!
    or so I’ve heard.

  30. #30 Kseniya's brainless editor
    December 3, 2007

    Uh, actually, that should be: “They don’t push it too hard here in the ‘burbs of The People’s Republic…”

  31. #31 Dustin
    December 3, 2007

    What options do atheist families have for similar community-spirit functions?

    Jesus Pinatas and Whack-a-Witness. The second demands some explaining. The rules are: 1) Wait for a witness to ring your doorbell. 2) Do anything you can to make them break the conversation first. If you have to ask them to leave, or insist that you aren’t interested, you lose. They have to run away in fear or exasperation. Fun tips include asking for extra materials to pass around at the next meeting of the Church of Satan, and answering the door in S&M gear.

  32. #32 Hank
    December 3, 2007

    Dustin:
    - “Hello, we are from the church of latter day saints, we’d like to talk to you about th-”
    - “Wmlcmm nn, mdtlk mfrdsnm”
    - “Excuse me?”
    Removes gimp mask.
    - “Welcome in, I’d like to discuss the virtues of BDSM with you”

    Something like that?

  33. #33 Dustin
    December 3, 2007

    Exactly. You’re a natural at this, Hank.

  34. #34 Bill Dauphin
    December 3, 2007

    Campfire is a similar organization, but totally secular – but it’s not as common anymore.

    Is (was) there a boys’ wing of Campfire? I only ever heard of Campfire Girls.

    I second those calling out BSA as a religious group. My experience was with a troop in a middle-class, college educated suburban community populated largely by NASA civil servants and employees of related companies, so this wasn’t bible-thumping fundy religion… but my troop was sponsored by a church (as were the two or three other troops in town) and all our award ceremonies were held in the sanctuary. IIRC there is (or at least was in my day) a special award called “God and Country,” which was highly prized.

    When I was in scouting it was, for me, just about going camping with my friends… but as I look back on it, I find the blending of religion, overt patriotism, and paramilitary organization (i.e., “troops” made up of “patrols” led by “patrol leaders”) distressing in an organization specifically for impressionable youths.

  35. #35 Hank
    December 3, 2007

    Dustin: Let’s just say the Jehovas’ Witnesses in my old hometown don’t come around my parents house anymore and leave it at that.

  36. #36 Michael
    December 3, 2007

    Imagine if you sat in the chair while wearing the Mormon magic underwear. I’d say triplets at least.

  37. #37 raven
    December 3, 2007

    Do anything you can to make them break [the JWs] the conversation first.

    “I’d love to come to your Sunday service but that is when my coven is meeting.”

    I once told them I was a member of the Neo American church. This was a knockoff of the Native American church (the peyoteists) for nonIndians but with the same sacraments. The earnest, freshly scrubbed young woman then told me that she had never heard of them and wanted to know more. I wasn’t in the mood to explain.

  38. #38 Greta Christina
    December 3, 2007

    But PZ… that’s not the true faith! The true faith is, like, sophisticated and stuff! The true faith understands that God doesn’t respond to sympathetic magic, or indeed answer prayers at all. (Thus rendering him somewhat useless… but that’s not important right now.)

    What’s important right now is that all this magic chair and magic bone stuff isn’t the true faith. And the fact that millions upon millions of people believe it and act accordingly — that’s irrelevant. The true faith is the faith of a handful of theology students who’ve spent years reading labyrinthine fanfic rationalizations for the inconsistencies in the God story.

    And if you haven’t spent years reading those labyrinthine fanfic rationalizations, then you haven’t given religion a fair chance. You’ve been criticizing a false faith. Not the true one.

    Sheesh. How many times do I have to explain this?

  39. #39 isabelita
    December 3, 2007

    We found a group of parents in our kid’s elementary school with similar outlooks, pretty much via all the sports activities our kids were involved in. It was a small alternative-ish private school, so the parents got to be pretty friendly. Any chance you can connect with your fellow parents via the schools?
    Our son is 26, and has grown up just fine sans churchin’. He has admirable values.

  40. #40 Louis
    December 3, 2007

    Whack a Witness? I’ve found that inviting them in and discussing why their views are such utter drivel works well. Especially any discussion of science. They see remarkably unprepared to answer even basic questions. They usually flee after the first half hour or so of entertainment. I have books, they seem to be really scary objects for Witnesses. I tend to bring down nice big illustrated science books and show them pictures. Terrifying stuff.

    Of course turning up at the door semi-clad, inviting them in for the orgy and asking them to take their clothes off, and then being surprised that they aren’t “my friend Bob’s friends from another swingers club” tends to work well too. Of course, if pushed for time, nothing causes Witness fleeing faster than a large gentleman opeing the door carrying a noisily vibrating rubber cock.

    Louis

  41. #41 mojoandy
    December 3, 2007

    Much thanks to Carlie, Brownian, Cathy W et al. I found that other thread, and yeah, didn’t look like there were many options.

    I’ll check into the Girl Scouts, as all three of our kids are girls (can’t wait for the teen years! yay!).

  42. #42 Sideways
    December 3, 2007

    Just thought I’d mention my personal favorite ‘relic’ story. If the body parts of dead saints could work miracles, then bits of Jesus would be even more powerful, right? Only, Jesus was supposedly transported bodily into Heaven, leaving nothing behind (except the grail and the lance, which have their own little mythologies. Funny how nobody ever thinks of the nails.)

    Except…

    Jesus was Jewish. Which means, he was circumcised. So a few enterprising charlatans went on tour with Jesus’s Foreskin, promising miracle cures and salvation.

  43. #43 Louis
    December 3, 2007

    Incidentally, back on the topic of magic processes for increasing the likelihood of pregnancy, my wife and I have a wonderful method for this. We call it “fucking”.

    Does anybody else out there use this magical method for achieving pregnancy? Is it a widespread phenomenon? Perhaps we should write to the Catholic Church and get them to advocate “fucking” as a very good little ritual that seems to work very well a a means of ladies getting pregnant.

    Far me it from me to extend “anecdote” to “data”, so to help me out, does anyone know of any studies of “fucking” out there? Ones that show a causatory link between “fucking” and pregnancy? I wouldn;t want to go off all half cocked and make some ridiculous claim on the basis of an apparent correlation. One must at all times be careful not to submit to magical thinking.

    Louis

  44. #44 Sven DiMilo
    December 3, 2007

    Does the YMCA still have the Indian Guides, or has that gone the way of (most of) the various racist mascots? I loved it when I was a kid, got to hang out with my dad wearing feathers and leather vests and calling each other stuff like Arrow Head and Dyspeptic Badger (nah, I made that one up). Plus there were snacks, often Twinkies and Ding Dongs and the like, set out by somebody’s squaw.
    Yeah, I guess they probably don’t do that anymore. It was fake, but then I’ve always felt like the Boy Scouts were pretty much dressing up like WWI doughboys.

  45. #46 JIM JORDAN
    December 3, 2007

    Gerald: I am well aware of her lawyering mentality, but
    disregard this when she denigrates relgion in no matter
    what form. That statement is from her book “Sleeping With
    Extra-Terrestrials: The Rise of Irrationalism and Perils
    Of Piety” I can embrace her antireligious viewpoints and
    ignore her lawyers mentality. The former is more inportant
    to me than the latter. We do not need more lawyers, but
    sure can do with more religion bashers.

  46. #47 SJN
    December 3, 2007

    It seems laughable until you realize that there is still a segment of people who feel that self torture (mental and physical) is not only good for you but required for spiritual progress AND feel that it should be required of others also. God likes you to suffer in the weak vessal He created for you to inhabit. Harkening back to other discussions here regarding the Golden Compass, if I was an impressionable youth, reading Pullman wouldn’t necessarily lead me to embrace atheism but reading Augustine’s City of God would have me racing to embrace the sanity of non belief.

  47. #48 Janine
    December 3, 2007

    JIM JORDAN, Gerald is an anti-semitic troll. That is why nobody responded to his statement. Felt you should know.

  48. #49 T_U_T
    December 3, 2007

    TEST

  49. #51 G
    December 3, 2007

    Louis,

    I’m curious about this “fucking” of which you speak, does it perchance have a link to this “abstinence edumacation” I keep hearing squaked about by certain higher-ups in the US Gub’mint?

    Also, I found that “Sure, I know Jesus, he mows my lawn twice a month.” Works as a similarly snarky remark to send JW’s scurrying away in any area that’s populated by a large number of hispanics.

  50. #52 Julie Stahlhut
    December 3, 2007

    You would increase your odds if you sit in the backseat of a Pontiac Firebird of the Two Doors.

    Ex-Drone: If I’d had a mouthful of coffee it would be all over my keyboard right now!

  51. #53 Margaret
    December 3, 2007

    mojoandy, I think PossumMomma may have had such a discussion. Check the archives there. If not, that would be a good place to ask the question.

  52. #54 Janine
    December 3, 2007
    You want a baby? Then go sit in a chair owned by Saint Mary Frances of the Five Wounds.

    You would increase your odds if you sit in the backseat of a Pontiac Firebird of the Two Doors.

    Posted by: Ex-drone | December 3, 2007 12:34 PM

    Would not your odds go up more if you partook of the sacramental wine?

  53. #55 bernarda
    December 3, 2007

    No need to go so far back or to some jesus freak. In Paris at the cemetery Père Lachaise there is the celebrated tomb of Victor Noire.

    http://www.raingod.com/angus/Gallery/Photos/Europe/France/Paris/VictorNoir.html

    If you look at the photo on the right, you will see that his sex, his toes, and his nose are polished. That is because the legend has it that women who have trouble becoming pregnant should touch those areas to solve the problem.

    I know women who have done this.

  54. #56 bernarda
    December 3, 2007

    I might add this BBC story.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3975607.stm

    It’s a pity that it is closed off, but I doubt that it has much effect.

  55. #57 Rey Fox
    December 3, 2007

    You would increase your odds if you sit in the backseat of a Pontiac Firebird of the Two Doors.

    Would not your odds go up more if you partook of the sacramental wine?

    A playing of the liturgical music of Journey is also customary.

  56. #58 David Marjanovi?, OM
    December 3, 2007

    Funny how nobody ever thinks of the nails.

    Plenty of people have thought of the True Nails. Just dig a little harder.

  57. #59 David Marjanovi?, OM
    December 3, 2007

    Funny how nobody ever thinks of the nails.

    Plenty of people have thought of the True Nails. Just dig a little harder.

  58. #60 Ichthyic
    December 3, 2007

    If you look at the photo on the right, you will see that his sex, his toes, and his nose are polished. That is because the legend has it that women who have trouble becoming pregnant should touch those areas to solve the problem.

    I’m rather thinking all of these things are just one running gag by the people who knew the dead people when they were alive, and just started the rumor as some sort of humorous tribute.

    “oh, yeah, touch his junk and you will be blessed! *snort*”

    leave it to teh stoopid to fall for the gag not only then, but long after anyone even remembers it was supposed to be a joke.

  59. #61 aiabx
    December 3, 2007

    You would increase your odds if you sit in the backseat of a Pontiac Firebird of the Two Doors.

    Would not your odds go up more if you partook of the sacramental wine?

    Blasphemers! Is it not written in the Book of Judges that the GTO is the most potent of automobiles?

  60. #62 dieselrain
    December 3, 2007

    No one has done a controlled experiment with one of the relics to show it does or doesn’t work? The DI should get on this right away, write a paper, get it peer reviewed and published. Right? Seems obvious to me. I know research has been done on the power of prayer to heal people, showing that people were more likely to improve, healthwise, if no one prayed for them. That paper needs to be talked about more, in all news reporting publications, talk shows and tv documentaries.

    As for group activities for children that provide socialization opportunities sans religion: start your own SIG (special interest group) for your daughters. First one that comes to mind, for me, is weekly Sunday (or Saturday) trips to museums with short discussion group afterwards. One Sunday per month could be the “bring a friend” session, meaning bring a friend who wouldn’t otherwise be able to go to the museum. Weekly get-togethers can be built around visits to parks outside one’s neighborhood; to state parks; to national parks. Weekly get-togethers can be built around sporting events, amature or professional or both. SIG’s can be built around computer interests or writing or reading or gardening, dog exercise, dolls. See what interests your daughters and then give that interest the same attention as the religious give to getting their kids to church, confirmation, YF, nightly prayers, grace at meals, etc.

  61. #63 stogoe
    December 3, 2007

    Journey?! Really? *sigh* I’m not buying it, man.

  62. #64 Bill Dauphin
    December 3, 2007

    Journey?! Really? *sigh* I’m not buying it, man.

    Dunno ’bout Journey, but in college I knew a girl who had an apparently orgasmic reaction after hearing just the first 5 words of Jethro Tull’s “Aqualung.” Sadly, she didn’t seem interested in duplicating the experience after the concert. [sigh]

  63. #65 Sven DiMilo
    December 3, 2007

    The way I remember it, it was sacramental Thai stick in back of a 71 VW bus.
    Or do I?

  64. #66 Louis
    December 3, 2007

    G,

    No it has nothing to do with that US government policy. That is to do with abstaining from sex, which I’ve heard is an evil process that makes you blind and gay people do it. So it’s yucky.

    Luckily my wife and I read out bible a lot so no sex goes on. I wouldn’t even know how to do it.

    None of this takes away from us engaging in “fucking”. In fact we’ve invited a few of the neighbours over for a good session of “fucking”. Everyone enjoys themselves immensely. And no sex at all, or at least nothing I’d recognise from an American sex ed. syllabus.
    ;-)

    Louis

  65. #67 Zarquon
    December 3, 2007

    You should have told her you were thick as a brick.

  66. #68 Janine
    December 3, 2007

    Just don’t breathe your locomotive breath on your partner.

  67. #69 Bill Dauphin
    December 3, 2007

    You should have told her you were thick as a brick.

    Notwithstanding my thickness, she really didn’t mind if I sat that one out.

    I needed more information about this “fucking” business Louis is pushing, I suppose.

  68. #70 Janine
    December 3, 2007
    You would increase your odds if you sit in the backseat of a Pontiac Firebird of the Two Doors.

    Would not your odds go up more if you partook of the sacramental wine?

    A playing of the liturgical music of Journey is also customary.

    Posted by: Rey Fox | December 3, 2007 3:24 PM

    Journey is a mood killer. Throw on some Sleater-Kinney and I am there.

  69. #71 Rey Fox
    December 3, 2007

    You can’t have the Firebird without the Journey. Or the .38 Special. Or Cheap Trick if you really dig under the seats.

  70. #72 Janine
    December 3, 2007

    I needed more information about this “fucking” business Louis is pushing, I suppose.

    Posted by: Bill Dauphin | December 3, 2007 4:42 PM

    John Lydon once called fucking a lot of squishing.

  71. #73 Justin Moretti
    December 3, 2007

    Louis, another trick that works very well for driving off the Fundies is what an acquaintance of mine did to Mormons once. They had pestered this particular street pretty hard and pretty often, so she hatched a plan to fix their little red wagon for good. She invited them in for the chat when they knocked on her door and deliberately offered them coffee as if she didn’t know they didn’t drink it (but they were too polite to refuse of course). While she fixed the drinks, her (female) partner engaged them in conversation, pretending to be enthralled.

    Because these so-called “elders” were a pair of callow youths who could barely raise a pubic hair between them, metaphorically speaking, they didn’t twig as to the nature of the domestic relationship.

    That is, until the lady fixing the drinks sat down next to her partner, gave her a big hug and said:

    “So… what do you think of homosexuality?”

    Exit Mormons, never to return.

    As for the Witnesses, I await the next visit – especially with family trailing behind, as I will confront the parents about how they would let their children bleed to death because they’re too afraid of the elders to save their own flesh and blood.

  72. #74 Bureaucratus Minimis
    December 3, 2007

    Blake Stacey (#9) wrote: Incidentally, every advocate of NOMA should be up in arms about this, shouldn’t they?

    OK, I google-searched for NOMA and none of the hits seemed relevant…unless I’m missing something about the New Orleans Museum of Art.

    Clarification, please. TIA

  73. #75 Janine
    December 3, 2007

    Posted by: Rey Fox | December 3, 2007 4:49 PM

    I can do Cheap Trick. Please make it ‘ELO Kiddies’, ‘The Ballad Of TV Violence’ or ‘Auf Wiedersehen’.

  74. #76 Janine
    December 3, 2007

    You can’t have the Firebird without the Journey. Or the .38 Special. Or Cheap Trick if you really dig under the seats.

    Don’t know what happened here.

  75. #77 autumn
    December 3, 2007

    There are actually a whole lot of Jesus’ foreskins in various Catholic chruches.
    It’s apparently good to be the King (of Kings. With multiple dongs.)

  76. #78 Tulse
    December 3, 2007

    “NOMA” stands for “non-overlapping magesteria”, which is Stephen J. Gould’s term to describe the view that science and religion don’t (or shouldn’t) conflict:

    The net of science covers the empirical universe: what is it made of (fact) and why does it work this way (theory). The net of religion extends over questions of moral meaning and value. These two magisteria do not overlap, nor do they encompass all inquiry (consider, for starters, the magisterium of art and the meaning of beauty). To cite the arch cliches, we get the age of rocks, and religion retains the rock of ages; we study how the heavens go, and they determine how to go to heaven.

    (Taken from Nonoverlapping Magesteria.)

    Many atheists think this notion is, to put it politely, bullshit, because religion makes claims about the empirical universe all the time, such as that evolution did not happen, that the earth is only 6,000 years old, and that sitting in a chair used by a dead weirdo will make you pregnant.

  77. #79 Louis
    December 3, 2007

    Justin: Good work those ladies!

    Bill: I have a series of instructional documentaries and publications that may be of interest. They are quite widely available for free and for purchase upon the internet I am told. Just FYI, watch out for pornography though. I’ve heard it can lead to sex which may or may not (ladies and children cover your eyes and ears) lead to….lead to….I can’t say it (be strong Louis, be strong)…it might lead to DANCING! Both of which we know to be sins.

    Anyway, I’m not pushing “fucking” it’s just a convenient ritual for causing pregnancy in ladies. I’m not sure how the magic works, but it sure is good. After all one can enage in “fucking” in the comfort of one’s own home, no need to travel to sit on a magic chair when you can sort that problematic un-pregnant lady out at home. My wife and I are so good at “fucking” I’ve been tempted to offer our services. My priest was very unsupportive of the idea however. He thought it might lead to fornication, which he informed me is a terribly bad thing. It’s related to sex and…and…and…dancing apparently.

    Be careful!

    Louis

  78. #80 J Daley
    December 3, 2007

    Officials concerned about damage to the icon’s groin area have erected

    Yessuh.

  79. #81 Ichthyic
    December 3, 2007

    Many atheists think this notion is, to put it politely, bullshit,

    *raises hand*

    I would say, though, that while the actual idea itself is rather easily demonstrated to be BS, there could be pragmatic application in certain circumstances that I haven’t yet been able to fully rule out.

    some have viewed it as a simplistic, but potentially effective, “band-aid” that might work in some of the more contentious secondary education districts, given that many of the parents involved in complaining about the teaching of the ToE likely aren’t going to thoughtfully question the logic behind it.

    Unfortunately, my prediction is that it will fail (and waste yet more time and energy), simply because it isn’t the “conflict” that most of these parents are actually interested in resolving, so much as they want their Sunday School class to be taught AS science (IOW, they simply aren’t interested in any kind of “compromise”, intellectual or pragmatic).

    NOMA would only work for a small fraction of parents who are actually looking for some sort of semi-reasonable (if not logical) compromise they can adhere to.

    BTW, the reasoning I use here is the same as to why I think the entire concept of framing in this context is doomed to failure in general, and also why I think energy spent in that effort might end up being detrimental in the long term.

    er, not that the reasoning used is anything unique.

  80. #82 Brad
    December 3, 2007

    There you skeptics go again! OF COURSE you can get pregnant sitting on this furniture! As long as the woman in question is sitting on a (fertile) man’s lap with his penis insider her. Heck, I’ll even volunteer to prove this to you, just out of the goodness of my heart.

    Geez, you guys don’t believe anything!

  81. #83 arensb
    December 3, 2007

    Dustin @ #30:
    1) Wait for a witness to ring your doorbell. 2) Do anything you can to make them break the conversation first.

    Funny, I tend to have the opposite problem. The last time the JWs stopped by, we got as far as:
    - No, they’re not bothering me
    - No, they wouldn’t like anything to drink
    - Yes, I have a Bible. Several, in fact
    - Yes, I read it from time to time
    - No, I don’t believe in any gods
    - No, they hadn’t heard about the beer volcano or the stripper factory

    when they remembered that they had an urgent appointment elsewhere, and couldn’t linger.

    I was hoping they’d stay for a nice long point-by-point discussion, but they seemed in such a hurry to leave.

  82. #84 Louis
    December 3, 2007

    Brad,

    Darnit! You went and poached my next suggestion.

    IDEA THIEF!!!!
    ;-)

    Louis

  83. #85 Azkyroth
    December 3, 2007

    In a related vein, I still can’t bring myself to feel much sympathy for people who find it a challenge to get pregnant.

  84. #86 Elin
    December 3, 2007

    Um, there are physiological reasons why people have difficulty getting pregnant. It doesn’t mean that they have trouble, you know, getting it on.

    And, if you were a woman who had been taught all your life that woman’s entire purpose for existence is the bearing and raising of children, you’d feel pretty awful about “failing” at this task.

    So I can sympathize with the frustration and fear these women must be feeling. However…don’t they realize they’re praying to one seriously kinky lady? I mean, you don’t spend half your life whipping yourself bloody unless you get some kind of pleasure out of it, even if it’s a pleasure that some would call perverted. I’ve known dominatrices who were less hard-core than Mary Frances.

  85. #87 Marcus Ranum
    December 3, 2007

    NOMA == intellectual cowardice and appeasement of the ridiculous

  86. #88 Azkyroth
    December 3, 2007

    Um, there are physiological reasons why people have difficulty getting pregnant. It doesn’t mean that they have trouble, you know, getting it on.

    I’m aware of this. And I’m still closer to envious than sympathetic.

  87. #89 Azkyroth
    December 3, 2007

    Non-Overlapping Magisteria is the idea that religion and science deal with different kinds of questions about the world (science with questions of empirical fact, religion with questions of “meaning” and morality), and that there need be no conflict between the two if their practicioners simply restrict themselves to their “proper” roles.

    In terms of realism as a proposal for the operation of a human society, it arguably falls into the same category as “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

  88. #90 Louis
    December 3, 2007

    Actually Askyroth and Elin, you raise an interesting point. There’s an awful lot of engagement in “fucking” going on in my household and yet a very small total of pregnancies and children.

    Hmmmmm maybe the two are unrelated after all. I better convince the Mrs to fly out and sit on that chair if we want to have a baby. Surely that’s a much better causative link….right?
    ;-)

    Louis

  89. #91 CanadianChick
    December 3, 2007

    I dunno…at my last job there was this chair in the A/R section – whoever sat in it got pregnant. Even when someone moved the chair to A/P, it still worked…they all got pregnant.

    I refused to sit in that chair.

    (the fact that all were young women in their reproductive prime who weren’t opposed, or even wanted, to be pregnant is totally irrelevant, right?)

  90. #92 MAJeff
    December 3, 2007

    And, if you were a woman who had been taught all your life that woman’s entire purpose for existence is the bearing and raising of children, you’d feel pretty awful about “failing” at this task.

    Thus, the task is to continue attacking and ridiculing the batshit notions that affect these women so negatively in order that future generations of women not be damaged by the offending institution and it’s wacky yet oppressive beliefs.

  91. #93 Louis
    December 3, 2007

    Afficionados of the Father Ted comedy series in Britain will appreciate this perhaps:

    I have a mental image of a little, Irish priest standing next to the chair asking ladies who are about to sit on it:

    “Ah, well now Miss, have ya troid da fucking now have ya? Ah ’tis a grand way to get a baby, biggorah.”

    I’m also imagining him having a pig under his arm. I need to go in for political correctness counselling.

    Louis

    P.S. Some of the above is humourous and definitely not intended to offend. Apologies if I inadvertantly did so.

  92. #94 craig
    December 3, 2007

    I remember reading about a couple who were having trouble conceiving, went to the doctor, all kinds of test showed nothing wrong, until finally something made the doc realize that the husband was copulating with his wife’s NAVEL.

    I don’t have further details, but its not hard to imagine this case stemming from a sex education that never got beyond “babies come from mommie’s tummy.”

  93. #95 Ichthyic
    December 3, 2007

    OT, but Huckabee is currently polling ahead of all other republican contenders in Iowa.

    *sigh*

    I simply refuse to even imagine that moron as president.

    It’s disturbing enough to contemplate what it means for the future of this country that he even is polling well this close to the primaries.

    we will never be rid of the moronic influence of the religious right in politics.

    doomed i tells ya.

    doomed.

  94. #96 MAJeff
    December 3, 2007

    we will never be rid of the moronic influence of the religious right in politics.
    doomed i tells ya.
    doomed.

    Having recently been required to spend time with Iowa members of the religious right, you’re right.

  95. #97 Azkyroth
    December 3, 2007

    I remember reading about a couple who were having trouble conceiving, went to the doctor, all kinds of test showed nothing wrong, until finally something made the doc realize that the husband was copulating with his wife’s NAVEL.

    …HOW?

  96. #98 Ichthyic
    December 3, 2007

    …HOW?

    what happens to your belly button when you gain a lot of weight…

    sorry, but that’s the only likely thing i can envision that makes sense.

    that, or the hubby had some sort of serious war injury

    or his wife is Lorena Bobbit.

  97. #99 John C. Randolph
    December 3, 2007

    ” There is simply no more whacky religion on planet earth than the catholism.”

    I beg to differ. The snake-handlers, the scientologits, the “children of god” prostitution cult, and many, many other superstitions are far whackier than the catholics.

    -jcr

  98. #100 John C. Randolph
    December 3, 2007

    ” does it perchance have a link to this “abstinence edumacation” ”

    Why, yes it does! Kids who go through “abstinence education” are rather more likely to end up pregnant or infected with an STD.

    -jcr

  99. #101 truth machine
    December 3, 2007

    Gerald: I am well aware of her lawyering mentality

    I surprised that you would take a slimeball like Spezio seriously. While Wendy is, among other things, a lawyer, she doesn’t have a “lawyering mentality”.

    but
    disregard this when she denigrates relgion in no matter
    what form.

    Actually she’s a bit of an accomodationist, and regularly lectures atheists about being too mean to believers.

    We do not need more lawyers

    We need plenty more first amendment-protecting lawyers like WK.

  100. #102 Julie Stahlhut
    December 3, 2007

    A playing of the liturgical music of Journey is also customary.

    Eeewwwww. Just think of all the people who have passed to their offspring their shared taste for the high-decibel caterwauling of Steve Perry.

    Please, no! Think of the children!

  101. #103 Venger
    December 3, 2007

    My father once got into a game of Whack-a-Witness when he was in his 20′s in the UK, but his version required that he couldn’t just get rid of the low level drones, he had to take it to the top level drone. So every week they came to the door and he expressed interest in their faith but some uncertainty and the next week they bring a higher ranking witness along to try win him over, till finally the ranking witness for the area came. At that point he informed them he’d had a vasectomy and wanted to know if that would be a problem. They left very shortly after and never came back again.

    We had friends as kids who had mixed parents, their mother was a JW, their father was Catholic. They were raised as JW’s, no Christmas presents, no birthday parties, strict religion and church attendance, in all ways but one they were JW’s…the exception was that if they ever got hurt their father would take them to the hospital as Catholics and they’d get whatever treatment was needed no matter what the whack job JW’s in the local church thought, and so their mother could claim she had no say in what happened.

  102. #104 Rey Fox
    December 3, 2007

    Pontiac Firebird, therefore Journey. I don’t make the rules, folks, I just report ‘em. But if you’re gonna be big music snobs, then okay, substitute REO Speedwagon for Journey.

  103. #105 Janine
    December 4, 2007

    Damn straight I am a music slob. What you are talking about is the hellish soundtrack of my teen-age years. And if anything, I hated REO Speedwagon more than Journey. Can I slip in some Big Black or Black Flag’s ‘Damaged’?

  104. #106 LiberalDirk
    December 4, 2007

    OT Ichthyic, don’t worry at least you have opposing candidates. In South Africa it looks like our next president will be Jacob Zuma, a man who knowingly has sex with a HIV positive woman and does not take any measures for protection.

    Can I also say that when he did this, he was (and is still) married to two other women. And he has had 18 children from 9 different women.

    Also, his financial adviser is currently sitting in jail as a result of fraud. Joy.

  105. #107 Azkyroth
    December 4, 2007

    OT Ichthyic, don’t worry at least you have opposing candidates. In South Africa it looks like our next president will be Jacob Zuma, a man who knowingly has sex with a HIV positive woman and does not take any measures for protection.

    Has he perhaps confused the reputation and prestige of the Nobel Peace Prize with that of the Darwin award he seems to be applying for?

  106. #108 AllanW
    December 4, 2007

    re comments #40, 72, 82 102 etc

    Had the JW’s around a couple of days ago. After the usual “have you got a bible/do you read it?” pleasantries I got straight into the case of blood transfusions (recent case in the UK of 22 year old woman giving birth to twins who refused and died). Apparently it was all the hospitals’ fault as they had been told time and time again what special apparatus was to be used to pander to their precious delusion and it was being used elsewhere.

    After a comment two minutes later that I should believe the literal words in their book to which I got a further answer to a question I asked about stoning of adulterers, keeping slaves, threatening eternity in hell etc that what they meant was that it was sometines literal and sometimes metaphorical, I didn’t even have the heart to mock them anymore. I just felt very sad.

  107. #109 Bill Dauphin
    December 4, 2007

    Damn straight I am a music slob. What you are talking about is the hellish soundtrack of my teen-age years.

    It could be worse: It could be Air Supply or the Average White Band.

    Or Supertramp.

    (Actually, I have to somewhat sheepishly admit that I liked Supertramp. Everyone has his guilty pleasures, right?)

  108. #110 Tulse
    December 4, 2007

    Bill, I personally think there is a vast gulf of difference between Supertramp and Air Supply. I don’t think you have anything to feel guilty about.

  109. #111 Janine
    December 4, 2007

    Bill, I have to admit, I can still handle ‘Cut The Cake’ by AWB. But if there were a hell, Air Supply is the soundtrack.
    (Can we destroy all the copies of the Wendy’s commercial with the burger singing ‘All Out Of Love’. The stuff of nightmares.)

  110. #112 JimC
    December 4, 2007

    I beg to differ. The snake-handlers, the scientologits, the “children of god” prostitution cult, and many, many other superstitions are far whackier than the catholics.

    Nope, not a one of them whackier than the catholics. The magic chair, the saints, the rubbing of organs on you to induce pregnancy or other things, transub-whatever, infallibility of the pope, celibacy, nuns, rosaries, chants,exorcisms, and on and on. They are wayyy more superstitious than any of the groups above. Snake handlers are nuts but certainly not more so than the list above.

  111. #113 Rey Fox
    December 4, 2007

    Now see here, Janine, I was born in 1980. I quite likely owe my very existance to Journey. Naturally, I am very conflicted about this, but this isn’t about me, it’s about makin’ da babiez!

  112. #114 Janine
    December 4, 2007

    Rey Fox, you have my deepest sympathies. None of us can help the conditions that we were conceived by. But here is some good news, while Journey was around in 1979, they have yet to become the band of choice. Perhaps you were conceived to Rush! Though if you are lucky, it was to Barry White.

    I was conceived in 1965, knowing my parents awful taste in music, I will not try to imagine what song was playing. It is too terrifying.

  113. #115 Bill Dauphin
    December 4, 2007

    Bill, I personally think there is a vast gulf of difference between Supertramp and Air Supply. I don’t think you have anything to feel guilty about.

    Oh, I imagine I do, at least in some folk’s eyes: The soundtrack of my teens and early twenties was filled with ponderous ProgRock (which I confess I still love): Yes (and Rick Wakeman’s solo albums), Jethro Tull, Rush, ELP, UK, Asia, a smattering of King Crimson (they were actually a bit before my time), etc., along with other similar-sounding keyboard/guitar/power-harmony bands like Kansas, Boston, and Styx. I also enjoyed solo artists like Cat Stevens (before he decided Allah hates pop music), Harry Chapin, Rod Stewart, and Al Stewart (how can you not like a pop singer who writes lyrics about the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand?)… very different musical styles from the bands (and from each other), but sharing the same essential pretentiousness that seems to have dominated my tastes for several decades! [sigh]

  114. #116 Tulse
    December 4, 2007

    Well, then, Bill, we are both damned, since I had similar listening tastes (with a much larger leavening of Pink Floyd and The Who). I still do, for that matter, but try to compensate for it with some stuff like Sleater-Kinney and Deerhoof, so I don’t seem such a fossil.

  115. #117 Rey Fox
    December 4, 2007

    Janine: Judging from my parents’ vinyl collection, it was actually probably James Taylor. *mega-shudder*

  116. #118 Rey Fox
    December 4, 2007

    “(how can you not like a pop singer who writes lyrics about the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand?)… ”

    Or better yet, a band named after him! “I say don’t you know, you say you don’t go, I say… take me out!”

  117. #119 Janine
    December 4, 2007

    Rey Fox, perhaps the less we know about how we came to be, the better. Damn, you beat me the the Franz Ferdinand.

    If you’re lonely
    I will be here waiting for you

    Inside the Firebird with the sacramental wine. Get to get back where we started from.

  118. #120 Bill Dauphin
    December 4, 2007

    [I] try to compensate for it with some stuff like Sleater-Kinney and Deerhoof, so I don’t seem such a fossil.

    To be fair to myself, my tastes were more eclectic, even then, than the above list would indicate. Those artists defined, but in no way bounded, my musical interests. I would listen to almost anything other than disco (which I still hate) and hardcore country (which has grown on me over time), and I was a real concert slut. (At one point, my wardrobe consisted almost entirely of jeans and concert T-shirts!)

    At the same time I was hanging with a guy named Don who insisted on spelling it “Dohn” just to be different, and who loved Yes but disdained everything after Relayer because “after that they got too popular,” I was also going to see Elvis Costello’s Armed Forces tour in a little auditorium on the University of Houston campus, where the band was so loud and angry I thought my ears would bleed for days. (Oddly enough, the opening act for that show was The Rubinoos, a one-hit wonder that scored with a cover of “I Think We’re Alone Now,” and that was the polar opposite of loud-and-angry.)

    Of course, nowadays I’m the father of a teenage girl, and most of what I hear is her music: rap, punk (or what passes for it these days), emo… but occasionally “the kids” click into something familiar to our generation: Pink Floyd was briefly big with teens a couple years ago, and Queen, and several of her friends are big Beatles and Dylan fans. Every now and then I hear something pop up on her iTunes playlist that I know she got from me — some Indigo Girls or a Shake Russell tune (Shake Russell is a Houston-area roots rocker I used to listen to when I was at U of H) — and I feel fatherly pride. Sad that it takes so little, eh? [g]

  119. #121 Tulse
    December 4, 2007

    Hey, Houston was my stompin’ grounds, too, Bill — we heard a lot of Dana Cooper/DC-3 and Ezra Charles at college, and occasionally went to the wonderful Anderson Fair to hear Nanci Griffith and Lyle Lovett. Good times.

  120. #122 Bill Dauphin
    December 4, 2007

    Inside the Firebird with the sacramental wine.

    JOOC, would that be Boones Farm Strawberry Hill? Or Ripple? Or MD 20-20? (We’ll pass over the possibility of Colt .45 Malt Liquor without comment!)

    Jebus, this time-machine ride is making me a bit dizzy!

  121. #123 Bill Dauphin
    December 4, 2007

    Tulse: I think DC-3 was post-Shake Russell/Dana Cooper Band; you must have been kicking around there after my time. I grew up in Friendswood (NASA area, out I-45 towards Galveston), and attended U of H from 1977 through December 1981. I lived in Houston again briefly after grad school — 1984-85 — but haven’t been back since except for a couple very brief visits. I’d love to go back for a memory reboot, and to see Shake play again.

  122. #124 Sven DiMilo
    December 4, 2007

    I kind of agree with Dohn, though I can still listen to Going for the One and even Tormato.

  123. #125 Rey Fox
    December 4, 2007

    I love this blog!

  124. #126 Tulse
    December 4, 2007

    Bill, I was not long after you — I went to Rice ’82-’86.

    (Apologies to all of those who don’t find the minutiae of local Houston bands of three decades past all that fascinating.)

  125. #127 Bill Dauphin
    December 4, 2007

    OK, I promise this will be my very last post from the Harris County Wayback Machine! ;^)

    I went to Rice ’82-’86.

    Ahh, “the Harvard of the South!” I recall being at a Rice-UH football game when the Marching Owl Band (aka MOB; for the benefit of our reluctant audience, I’ll mention that Rice’s band was famous for using its halftime shows to mock the opposing schools) formed an empty parking space at midfield, to satirize the endemic lack of same on our commuter-dominated campus… at which point the guy driving the UH cheerleaders’ golf cart instantly went out and parked in it!

    Checkmate! ;^)

  126. #128 Azkyroth
    December 4, 2007

    Interesting band names. I even recognize a few.

    As for me, though, I’ll stick to mocking rap, country, “easy listening” jazz, and the various subcultures that, so far as I can tell, “like a lot of bands until they sell out and write a song”, and pitying people whose musical tastes crystallized before symphonic metal came into its own.

  127. #129 Azkyroth
    December 4, 2007

    (Gah, not “easy listening” so much, but the lounge singer stuff.)

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