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Crackers and Other Mental Acrobatics — 5 Comments

  1. This whole saga – particularly the original hysteria, death threats, the ongoing attempts to get the student expelled and sacking of Myers, is so reminiscent of the radical Islam reaction to Salmon Rushdie’s book, the Danish cartoons, etc.

    It just shows that this irrational hysteria is ‘closer to home’ than we original thought.

  2. Pingback:Rachel’s Musings » The End of a Cracker

  3. Thanks for clarifying this, Pat, if we can call elaborating the confusing Catholic doctrine clarification ;-). Since I was raised (sort of) Protestant, I learned that tainted interpretation of Catholic doctrine. Although, apparently, Martin Luther also believed in the magic of transubstantiation. (And, btw, in Germany, where I grew up, there aren’t as many “flavors” of Christianity as there are in the US: There’s Catholic and there’s Protestant/Lutheran.)

    Pat wrote: “Catholics believe the bread really is Christ”

    Oh, boy, it’s worse than I thought! I think there’s even another twist: Although the cracker is Christ, it really isn’t Christ because the Catholics aren’t cannibals. So, they’re eating Christ but they’re not really eating him. Well, maybe that’s my Protestant learning coming through again – it’s obvious my interpretation is rather tainted by that… But there is some sort of additional twist involved because Catholics claim that they’re not really cannibals…

    I completely agree with your assessment that the upset from true believers is likely due to their avoidance facing “their inner demon of doubt.” I can highly recommend “Mistakes were Made (but not by me),” which describes cognitive dissonance very accessibly. Good point to link this fear with the childhood indoctrination. That abuse surely must have quite a destructive impact on a person’s psyche.

  4. Hi Rachel — just browsing another thread 🙂 and saw your post on PZ Meyer’s admirable rant. I was raised Catholic and left at 16 — never to look back. But those not brought up with Catholic doctrine have never been exposed to the subtle casuistry that implants Catholic belief. So, let me elucidate the logic a bit.

    Catholics don’t believe that the cracker, or bread, symbolizes Christ. Symbology is a Protestant abomination. 🙂 Catholics believe the bread really *is* Christ.

    For them, every single cracker consecrated at mass really is the body of Christ in an organic way, even though it looks and tastes like bread. Here’s how the Church explains the contradiction. The cracker has the inner substance of Christ but the external form of a wheat cracker. Got that? 🙂 This is the advance that 1500 years of back-breaking, logic-warping theologizing has gotten us.

    After 200 years of the Enlightenment, we have a political philosophy that has opened the door to rational ethics and equality among all humans. After 400 years of science, we have life-saving vaccines, food enough for everyone (presuming no political corruption), a magnificent view of the universe, and Mars probes.

    And after 1500 years of casuistic double-talk, we have the substance but not the form to explain to us all why murmuring words over a cracker doesn’t seem to do anything. I’m laughing as I write. It’s too much. . . . 😀

    Anyway, after many years of arguing religion and science (and contraception and abortion) on various boards with all manner of J/C/M true believers, who often manifested a similar hostility to any real challenge to their beliefs, I finally came up with a likely reason why they get so upset even over trifles.

    That is, actually confronting a reasoned argument would require that they face their inner demon of doubt, and by that the entire induced structure of their psychology. I think true believers fear that inner demon more than anything else. And that fear of introspection — and psychological equilibrium it might destroy — is so strong that they’d rather attack their external opponents than examine their inner beliefs. Hence the rage against the student who walked off with the cracker. Hence the Inquisition. It’s all about fear of self-destruction. Fear of a living death, at the bottom.

    I think that fear has its roots in the deep trauma done to children indoctrinated into the faith by use of fear stories. Like Dawkins, I long ago realized that hard-core religious training of the young is child abuse.

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