Two days ago, one of my favorite bloggers, PZ Myers, posted an entry about the final desecration of a cracker. Not just any cracker though; one taken from a church, blessed by a priest, and intended for human consumption - some of you might know this as the eucharist (I hate capitalizing letters for religious words - don't want to give undue respect to imaginary beings).
To explain why this took place, you would need to know the first party of the story. A student named Webster Cook (no relation to me) received the eucharist from the priest at the church, but refused to chew, and walked out with the cracker in his mouth to show his friends. After which point, the catholic church and many of its followers became furious. To the point that Mr. Cook received death threats, might face suspension/expulsion, and that catholics believe this is a hate crime, I can only hang my head in shame. Professor Myers did a great job relaying his sentiment, which I share, on his blog which you can read here. What seemed to cause an uproar was a challenge that PZ offered:
So, what to do. I have an idea. Can anyone out there score me some consecrated communion wafers? There's no way I can personally get them — my local churches have stakes prepared for me, I'm sure — but if any of you would be willing to do what it takes to get me some, or even one, and mail it to me, I'll show you sacrilege, gladly, and with much fanfare. I won't be tempted to hold it hostage (no, not even if I have a choice between returning the Eucharist and watching Bill Donohue kick the pope in the balls, which would apparently be a more humane act than desecrating a goddamned cracker), but will instead treat it with profound disrespect and heinous cracker abuse, all photographed and presented here on the web. I shall do so joyfully and with laughter in my heart.
Fortunately a reasonable man with stature in the blogging community stood up for Mr. Cook ... and he paid for it dearly. For the following 16 days after bringing attention to the story and calling the situation as he saw it, PZ Meyers was on the receiving end of hate mail himself. Not just ugly emails, but death threatening emails and others that threatened his family. Throughout the shenanigans, some emailed him to pray for him or his conversion to catholicism. Still others hurled insults, calling him a Jew, or making comparisons to how muslims would react if he were to desecrate a copy of the Koran. Emails went back and forth, people got fired from their jobs for sending hate emails, and then ... duh-duh-DUH! ... Bill Donahue got involved.
Bill Donahue, head of the Catholic League, is masterfully deluded by The Woo. He called for Dr. Meyers' resignation as professor from the University of Minnesota. Of course, the main reason is simply that PZ is clearly evil.
The notion that catholics believe in the cracker and wine BECOMING physically the body and blood of Jesus is called transubstantiation. Growing up methodist, the official doctrine is that we believed in consubstantiation. Then lastly we have those who think it's simply symbolic. Since you've probably heard of the first and the third, let me tell you how the apologetic methodists make it work.
John Wesley (founder of methodism) clearly was no ignoramus. He could easily reason that, upon receiving communion, the bread and wine remained just that: bread and wine. Clearly this was in conflict with the catholic view of transubstantiation. As such, consubstantiation keeps the hocus pocus of the materials without all that cognitive dissonance of the bread and wine still appearing to be bread and wine after the blessing. Quick and simple fix, no? So instead of the magic being that there is a material alteration in the space-time continuum, the bread and wine just become magical, granting whoever consumes, well, salvation.
OK - back to the story. After much attention, PZ Myers finally committed the act of cracker abuse. After a short history lesson of when and how the catholics decided to make transubstantiation the standard and demonize the Jews (read his entry here), he revealed his work.
Because we live in a world that believes a cracker is actually another human being, and even a god, if you only believe it into being so, he felt it appropriate to dispel this myth and put forth his personal view (that it's just a cracker) with fervent force. He actually 'desecrated' three items: he put a nail through the cracker, tore pages out of the Koran, and tore pages out of Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion and threw all of it in the trashcan. Under the image of his work, he reminds us that these are just items, things. To quote him, "Nothing must be held sacred."
Any belief structure that undermines reality and reason, is a poison waiting to destroy the minds of those willing to inbibe its sometimes convenient rhetoric. A cracker remains a cracker, no matter how many words you utter in front of it. The world is still a sphere, no matter how many times you say that it is flat. You cannot wish something into being - it is or it isn't.
The question is, will you let your curiosity question the world and discover the truth of reality?