I’ve been reading the response to PZ Myers’s unfortunate blog post. It has been dubbed many things, but the one I like is “Wafergate,” which is what I will stick to in this post. I think that this issue is getting far more attention than it deserves, as PZ Myers is little more than a bitter and sour little man with an insanely popular blog. I can’t understand his popularity, even with atheists, because each of his virulent posts reveals nothing but hatred for religion. Such focused and intense hatred isn’t good for a person.
For the benefit of those of you that have no idea what is going on, let me start from the beginning. Webster Cook, a University of Florida student, palmed a Eucharist at a Catholic Mass instead of eating it. He took it out of the chapel and held it hostage for several days.
According to Catholic Eucharistic theology, the consecrated bread must be eaten immediately and cannot be removed from the premises (except by ordained ministers to feed those in the hospital or shut-ins). This bread, in Catholic thought, is the body of Jesus Christ.
I have no idea what happened after that. PZ Myers wrote in support of Cook, noting on his blog that it is only a cracker, and nothing more. Then he goes on to make the following request of his readers:
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. If you can smuggle some out from under the armed guards and grim nuns hovering over your local communion ceremony, just write to me and I’ll send you my home address.
Atheists, I find, are in general support of this prospect. VJack, whom I’ve had issues with before, has said this:
I applaud PZ’s efforts because they send the message that crackers are simply crackers and nothing more. We in the reality-based community should not be asked to respect religious beliefs any more than we would respect psychotic delusions.
Here is where I have a serious problem with both VJack and with PZ. Atheists are outspoken that a lack of respect between religious beliefs lead to wars, killing, and loss of life. Why, if religions should respect one another’s beliefs, are atheists suddenly immune to respecting religious beliefs? VJack himself has noted that theists should never witness to atheists out of respect for their atheism. So why shouldn’t he have to respect the theist’s beliefs?
I would think that two people with university positions would have more respect for people’s beliefs. These are the people that are educating our children, after all. But it seems as if I hope in vain. Tolerance for beliefs doesn’t happen even among the loudest voices calling for it.
What Myers is proposing to do with the communion wafers isn’t just sacrilegious. It is purposely designed to offend a specific religious group–Catholics. I have to wonder what Myers would think if religious people did something to specifically offend him. Of course he’d cry the wounded puppy, which is exactly what the Catholics are doing right now.
Of course, the death threats that he’s received are inexcusable from those who claim the title of Christian. Personally, I say that, despite his obvious attempt to offend the sensibilities of the religious, we should smile and turn the other cheek. Myers is, as I said earlier in this post, a bitter and sour little man who gets far more attention than he deserves.
What we should do is kill him with kindness (pardon the expression), or just ignore his rants. I propose a prayer circle for Myers–to pray for his conversion to Christianity. What a great victory that would be for the Lord! To have someone as entrenched in the atheist community as PZ Myers come to faith in Christ would certainly get people talking, and perhaps finally paint a positive picture for religion for a change. It would be especially nice if a converted PZ Myers used his popularity to try to win some more souls.
Can it happen? All things are possible with God.