JJ’s Culture Kitchen Version of It’s a Frackin’ Cracker

17 07 2008

My thoughts on this as a FOCKER (Friend of Culture Kitchen) combined into some semblance of an overview rant here.
Feel free to add yours here, there or both.

Btw, this is one big wafer! I was raised with quarter-coin sized communion wafers and never imagined we were talking about a pancake-sized thing to swallow, maybe this is what started the “show to it my non-Catholic friend” chain of events in the first place.

UPDATE – Melanie Kroll, who worked from NY for 1-800-FLOWERS dot com, was fired when threats were sent from her computer to PZ Myers in MN. Turns out her husband did it, and his rambling online confession sums up why we all are in danger from the adamant ignorance that religious literalism feeds:

I wonder if that university where mr. myers is employed excepts [sic] any money from the state? And I wonder if the good people of this state know that they are paying good, hard earned tax dollars on such a disturbing creature as mr. myers. . .However, I think it is his duty to repair the damage that he and his associates have achieved through their concerted and organized campaign to punish both Melanie Kroll, and 1-800-flowers, who were completely blameless in this matter.

However, this whole incident has caused someone who had nothing to do with the email to mr.myers,.a wonderful, sweet person who would never threaten anyone terrible troubles. Great harm has been done to this wonderful lady, without proof or a question asked, you just accuse, and assume. Wow and I thought you liberal folks were supposed to be the open minded ones. . .

UPDATE TOO – Professor who threatened desecration claims to have consecrated Hosts
Morris, MN, Jul 16, 2008 / 01:11 pm (Catholic News Agency)

. . .“I just felt security at the Republican National Convention ought to look at him and his followers,” Foley told CNA in a phone interview . . . “What I think he has done, he’s loaded a cyberpistol and he’s cocked it and he’s left it on the table. He may have set something in motion that no one can stop. It was irresponsible, a hell of a thing to do.”

Foley explained that he thought Myers should not be able to incite such acts with “impunity,” saying that he was especially disturbed by the comments posted on Myers’ blog. . . .
He also objected to Myers’ recent description of Catholic League President Bill Donohue as “braying,” which Foley, a self-described Irish Catholic, claimed was “a great insult for the Irish.”

. . .Foley said he thinks Myers’ actions have ended his career.
“Who can listen to him lecture on science without thinking ‘Polly wants a cracker’?” he asked.

UPDATE YET AGAIN (because JJ thinks this is a keeper analysis!) — Crackergate as Threat to Big Money Medical Donors?

I hypothesize that UCF administration may wish to demonstrate to donors like the Ginsburgs that they are tough on anyone who threatens the faith-friendly environment of this public institution. I simply cannot think of any other reason why the administration of a public university would be acting so irrationally and bringing further negative national attention to an otherwise scientifically-progressive institution.



20 responses

18 07 2008

Friday morning July 18 – late Thursday night 35 present members of the UCF student government Senate, voted overwhelmingly to impeach Webster Cook.

Senate leaders cut short any discussion of whether Cook was right or wrong in taking the wafer, saying they should focus on whether Cook broke Senate rules.

Seems the only impeachable offense would be identifying himself as a member of student government during the disruption. Not sure why that would be a violation either, unless maybe HE threatening THEM with the power of the purse or something, as they grabbed at him and tried to take the wafer back before they’d let him leave? You know, along the lines of “do you know who my father is?”

(Everybody involved in this thing is pulling that line, literally.
Hey, how dare you? Do you know who my Father is??)

And then the legalistic ritual of the sacred in response, is that the rules are sacred and our authority over our members is sacred. So like the firing of the 1-800-FLOWERS employee over the threatening email sent to PZ Myers, the STudent Senate reasoning was strictly limited to the issue of violating that body’s own procedural rules — not desecration of the sacred Host or conflict of beliefs about Church and State, or kidnapping of a cracker.

I am beginning to make some sense of of the whole story’s power, I think — this is all about Rules as the Sacred. Obedience to Mass Authority! Or you will be punished and a jury of your peers will make sure it sticks.

While we do as American citizens enjoy personal freedom and bear individual responsibility, to exercise it fully we might have to voluntarily exit or be expelled from every social network there is. That’s the punishment hanging over our heads every day in every way, because in a culture where we can’t be held against our will unless we’re convicted of actual crimes, what’s left to threaten us with, to control our “free” personal behavior and beliefs? Shutting us out.

So despite life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we’re all still powerless against the Number One Rule of All Authorities, that any disruptive insiders who object to the rules and try to change them from within by breaking them on principle, will be Forced Out. Case closed.

Our only power is choosing to leave the Rules before they refuse to let us stay, and stir up questions and dissent.Think about why your kids aren’t in School — because we don’t believe in that Authority and won’t follow it, right?

Well, what about all the OTHER Authorities controlling all of us, with so many overlapping spheres that we can’t keep them from coming into conflict, where it’s tough to tell which rules really rule our own “right” behavior through the day. Break the rules of the Authority and you are expelled, excommunicated, expatriated, exiled, or simply no longer employed here.

In this one news event, the Catholic Church as Authority started it — swallow and shut up — and it has spread to the political body of the student senate and to a national employer and two PUBLIC secular universities, one targeting a student for expulsion and the other targeting a professor for firing.

18 07 2008
Six Stages of Moral Development, From Piaget to Kohlberg « Cocking A Snook!

[…] State and Church too, all seem Very Authoritarian these days, as playing out in the UCF Catholic communion controversy, for example. Level […]

18 07 2008

If FavD should be impeached from the Internet or stricken by a thunderbolt from on high, I want everyone to know why. She just saw this picture of the Catholic-sized wafer and rejected my analogizing it to a pancake.

“Bigger than a condom, smaller than a diaphragm” was her take . . .

LOL – Circles of Life or Circles of Choice?? Both, neither? 😉

18 07 2008
Nance Confer

Why’s it so damned big? I thought they were placed on your tongue and kind of melted away. This would take a couple of bites. Are we supposed to share with our neighbors? No, wait. That’s what got the guy in trouble to start with.

Maybe this is why I have been having a hard time understanding how they could see the guy smuggling the wafer back to his seat. It’s big!

So, you can’t rely on movies for your entire understanding of a religious ceremony? Huh.

Maybe JC was just really fat and the paintings have it all wrong. . .


18 07 2008

Sean Hannity was ranting about Obama’s “flipflops” today, saying it wasn’t the positions or the significance of the particular issues (like Reverend Wright) but it was a character flaw to change like that, when you did it for political reasons. Thus Obama proved himself personally unworthy under Hannity’s rules, Hannity’s investigation, and Hannity’s judgment. . .just like the basis for judgment of the UCF Student Senate and the internet flower company.

And then the news came on and some judge locally is being reprimanded by the Florida Bar for writing something critical of another judge in a ruling. It didn’t matter what he said or whether he had a right to the opinion, it was “an ethical violation” to express it! I hear that argument everywhere these days!

Why isn’t it also an ethical violation then, for the Bar or the Senate or the Employer or the Church to criticize, threaten, and even actively punish someone they don’t like or are embarassed by or wish to disapprove of in a public manner?

You got me — the only difference I see is who’s got more Force and Authority to throw around.

I should mention, perhaps, that my dad was a business professor specializing in policy and ethics, and he coordinated the Distinguished Speaker Series for the Alfred A. Ring Center for Ethics at UF before his death. In 1990, the last newspaper interview he ever gave (maybe the only one??) quoted him as saying, “Doing the right thing is not always obvious; the clear ethical road is not always marked ‘ethical road.” He also said then, almost 20 years ago:
“There seems to be a growing consensus that interest in ethics is not going to just burn brightly and then go out.”

Well, he was right about that. But I doubt he’d have called “ethical” how that interest has been perverted.


p.s. Also today FavD was reading in an entertainment magazine about Izzy from Gray’s Anatomy, who may get written out of the show next year because she criticized the writers when she was nominated for an Emmy, said she didn’t deserve the nod for acting with such bad material. It bothered us and we clucked at her but then — was that an ethical violation on her part? Actually? What is her moral obligation as a disgruntled star (not what is polite or career-wise etc but ETHICAL) to her organization? And what are the ethical constraints if any, in how it reacts to her? I think a lot of what’s wrong with politics these days is that we don’t even pause to look at a situation as a case for ethical reasoning. Everything is just a win-lose cutthroat competition . . .

I’m stomping around here grousing because I know multiple cases of young male students who don’t get expelled for RAPE, yet these poor guys are being treated like criminals for crossing Catholic Church rules and beliefs . . .

20 07 2008
Jim Lemire

RE: giant wafer

The one showed in the picture is the Eucharist used by the priest during Mass. I imagine it is so large so people can see it – a better prop, if you will. When he is done consecrating it, he breaks it into smaller pieces, takes one piece for himself and then presents the other pieces to his attendants.

The rest of the congregation gets the individual-sized, pre-consecrated wafers

20 07 2008

Thanks! Makes more sense that way. . .but hmmm, do you know whether and how all the little ones then, are directly and thoroughly consecrated and transubstantiated?

Like your blog btw – my dear husband grew up in MA too. And we have plenty to fear down here in Florida, lizard-brained or not. 🙂

20 07 2008
Nance Confer

Oh, I learned something! Thanks! 🙂

But now I, too, am worried about the big wafer. Isn’t breaking up the body of JC some sort of sacrilege? Showing it to your friend is a crime, apparently, so now this whole cracking the cracker problem will bother me.

Maybe there’s an exact way they do it. No crumbs dropped on the floor, certainly.


20 07 2008
Nance Confer

But, JJ, why does Jim want his children to be eaten by sharks?

Doncha love the intertubes. 🙂


20 07 2008

Wise guy. 😉

I just liked how he took Dale’s four types of “things we fear” from psychology research, and applied it to sharks as scary power of story. Understanding “why we fear deviants, disrupters and heretics” seems a useful lesson for the case before us . . .

20 07 2008

Yes, well done, Jim.

Reminds me of a conversation with DD yesterday.

There was some sort of “scared straight” PSA about instant messaging.

DD and I laughed at the absurdity of the old-fogey message: ALL IMs are intent on luring your child into sex with perverts.

Such a disconnect from the reality of IMs in this house. Such an overreaction. Such a sweeping generalization and solution — never let the children swim! Or watch movies. Or whatever the stupid, fear-mongering solution was. . .


20 07 2008

(Love the cosmic new avatar, Nance!)

Wanna bet Webster Cook will now have a well-founded fear of Mass and possibly of university officials, maybe of Authority generally? Is this how people in real life become the Gene Hackman character in “Enemy of the State”?

20 07 2008
Jim Lemire

Thanks all! The shark fear post came about due the the perfect storm of 1) it being summer and thus beach-time, 2) the recent great white sightings off Cape Cod and 3) Dale’s posts on fear.

RE: breaking of the cracker:
From the countless times I’ve seen the consecration of the Eucharist, there clearly is no canonical law against breaking the Eucharist. As for the crumbs – they seem very careful about where they break the wafer and I believe they brush any crumbs into the consecrated wine they also use at Mass (“blood” of Christ). I do not know anything about the consecration of the individual-size communion wafers, but I seem to recall that they are made with wine, thus incorporating the “blood” of Christ.

20 07 2008
Jim Lemire

Nance – took me a while to figure your comment out! Good point – maybe I should make them watch jaws now!

20 07 2008

Let’s suppose instead of communion, the Campus Catholic Ministries conduct an exorcism of demons in my state’s tax-supported public university’s student union.

The Vatican is particularly concerned that young people are being exposed to the influence of Satanic sects through rock music and the Internet. In theory, under the Catholic Church’s Canon Law 1172, all priests can perform exorcisms. But in reality only a select few are assigned the task. . .
The rite of exorcism involves a series of gestures and prayers to invoke the power of God and stop the “demon” influencing its victim.

And Webster Cook or some other Catholic student, maybe also a student senator, is there when it starts up, and then it turns out HE is the possessed to be um, ministered unto. And suppose he doesn’t fully cooperate or even tries to leave without completing his part in the ritual?

What is the ethical obligation of the friend he brought along, to sit passively, run for help, or help hold him down for his own good? Just get out quick to save his own academic and eternal future?

Should the secular student senate impeach the demon-possessed young man, and the student court expel him from school? (Should the exorcisms continue at the Union, with armed university police keeping any other student resisters in line?)

Granted, the “press office” denies it and it might never happen but if all Catholic officials are to be believed about Catholicism, it sure could happen —

Vatican, Dec. 28, 2007 (CWNews.com) – The Vatican has denied a report that Pope Benedict XVI (bio – news) plans a new emphasis on exorcisms.

In an interview with Italy’s Petrus web site, which concentrates on Vatican affairs, Father Gabriele Amorth, the official exorcist of the Rome diocese, said that the Holy Father would soon undertake a new campaign to combat demonic possession.
“Thank God,” said the Italian priest, “we have a Pope who has decided to confront the devil head-on.”

Father Amorth– who has gained a worldwide reputation as an expert of the subject, and the author of a popular book on exorcism and demonic possession– told Petrus that a new Vatican document would call for the designation of exorcists in every Catholic diocese around the world. He also said that Pope Benedict would restore the tradition of reciting the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, composed by Pope Leo XIII, at the end of every Mass.

But Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, flatly denied the Petrus report. The papal spokesman said: “Pope Benedict XVI has no intention of ordering local bishops to bring in garrisons of exorcists to fight demonic possession.”

The topic of exorcism commands considerable public interest in Italy, and Father Amorth has frequently generated attention with his warnings about the unchecked spread of diabolical influence. In a new course on the topic, being offered by the pontifical university Regina Apostolorum in Rome, Father Paolo Scarafoni has warned that Satanic cults are making inroads in Italian society, and cautioned that the influence of the devil is real– although he has also reported that most suspected cases of demonic possession can be explained by other factors.

So if it should develop further — and nothing on earth would stop it if it is god’s will, right? — then how is the Pope’s infallible interest in exorcising demons from congregants ANY DIFFERENT than the Pope’s interest in transubstantiating wafers for congregants — and if public universities are featuring one at the Union already, haven’t they signed on for the other? — and worse, seems like the UCF case established a precedent that general student protection rules and laws such as anti-hazing, etc, won’t apply to Catholic rites and will be automatically classed as “bogus” while any student who dares seek protection will not only get no help from the University, but will be further victimized as an example to others.

21 07 2008
Nance Confer

LOL, Jim. Yes, they MUST watch Jaws and all the PSAs, so that all of their fears are properly begun.

But they must watch them with my children.

Especially my DS. He explained to me a couple of days ago that he is a terrible target for marketing. Since babyhood, it seems to me, we have watched TV, etc., but with an eye toward dissecting the commercials and other targeting devices. Now he does this automatically and can’t get through much of the garbage that is aimed at his 15-year-old wallet.

Perhaps he is a bit too cynical. All my fault, no doubt. 🙂

OTOH, we had a nice talk about what our economy is built on — not just those things we actually need, but lots and lot of want. Carefully taught want.

Happy summer — with or without Jaws.


P.S. Did you see the picture of the shark jumping out of the water behind a couple of surfers? It was on the local news anyway last night. It was at a beach a couple of hours north of us. 🙂

21 07 2008
Nance Confer

If not exorcisms, at least blessings. Remember the oily blessings of public schools here, JJ? Heck, maybe all three — and a confession booth standing by as needed. Your tax dollars at work. (Where’s a good anti-tax Republican when you need one?)


21 07 2008
JJ Ross

Well, I for one appreciate the connection Nance and Son are making for me, between Church marketing (evangelism), movie marketing (we’ll never forget that Jaws poster and musical theme), product marketing (tv commercials) and R- party marketing (politics.)

And don’t forget that wicked university credit card marketing scheme, so slyly using sports team branding and the trust we all help instill in our kids for school, and especially higher education, as intellectually worthy of them — yes, I’m still hot about that!

So the common theme — thanks for playing, Jim! — connecting all of these, is how vital a part of real education it is, that we educate our kids about their own human thinking and how it works, so they can see through such amygdala-driven seductions and indentures. Nance and Son give me hope in REAL education and enlightenment, the kind that helps kids think critically no matter which Humbug Oz-Head is behind the curtain, belching smoke in their eyes until Fear and Longing can deliver them up as supplicants before the Foreign Altar . . .
(Talk about scary movies! That was my own first total surrender to movie manipulation, when I was about four.)

21 07 2008

About whether it’s heresy to call it a cracker:

Some Christian denominations which observe holy communion have opted for other types of bread, such as unleavened pita bread, table crackers, leavened loaf bread or even flour tortillas. . . The appeal of communion wafers as a snack food may remain elusive to many of us, but there are a number of places in the world where a form of communion wafer can be found next to pretzels, corn chips and peanuts.

31 07 2009
Crackers for Communion Crackers — AGAIN?? « Cocking A Snook!

[…] Crackers for Communion Crackers — AGAIN?? 31 07 2009 How did I miss this earlier in the month? Jeez, it’s the Jeezits all over again! People who become so emotionally vested in the story of a symbolic object as to elevate it beyond all sense of proportion, beyond rule of law, beyond humanity, beyond all reason? […]

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