A Response

Posted by tungtide on July 28, 2008, 10:11 am

In response to my End of A Cracker post, commenter Mary had this to say:

Remain objective? He’s launched his own emotionally charged, unprovoked mission against our beliefs, that he can’t stand, and now you try to laud him as a hero? He’s not the victim here, mister, we are. He couldn’t even do the dirty work himself; stealing consecrated hosts. He had to solicit other base persons to do it for him. Intellectuals? You and your kind have bypassed reason and gone directly to full blown hatred to insanity. Your hero is a coward. You’re not atheists, either. You’re anti-theists, and militants at that. Besides, you have a misspelling/typo.

Mary’s right on one point, I did have a typo. I has since been corrected.

I’ll begin by saying that Myers is not my hero and I did not set out to paint him as one. In an older post I said that his actions were in poor taste but did serve to illustrate a point. The message behind that has quickly been lost as the situation surrounding the involved parties had degenerated.

Mary, as you should likely know by now this whole kerfluffle started with Webster Cook taking the Eucharist from mass and bringing it home rather than eating it. I have, at one time in my life, been Catholic and I understand the rituals behind Communion and the importance of the sacrament to those who believe. (As an aside, the communion wafer tastes like those biodegradable rice packing peanuts). Groups of bloggers on both sides of the issue sprung up in protest against the way Webster was being treated. He’s returned the wafer, unharmed, and yet still faces expulsion from his university over what should be a non issue. He didn’t take the wafer in malice or even in jest, and was willing to make amends.

PZ had a more exuberant response and decided to desecrate a bledded communion wafer. As I said, I felt that this was in poor taste (especially the way it was originally described) but the point remains that a communion wafer is simply a small piece of a bread-like substance. It has no mystical, magical, or trans-substantive (that might be a made-up word) powers. Even after being blessed it remains exactly what it was beforehand.

I disklike being called an intellictual mainly because I don’t consider myself one. I have not, however, given up on reason, nor have I done anything close to what you consider “full blown hatred.” Please, point out where I have done anything of the sort. I have not made death threats against anyone. I have not tried to tamper with the future of two students. I have not tried to get anyone fired from their positions. What I have done is explain my thoughts and opinions on the series of events surrounding Webster and PZ and provided appropriate links to back up my assertions.

I am many things on top of being an atheist. An anti-theist is not one of them, and certainly not militant. I’m not all that big on firing guns. What I am looking to do is point out where irrational beliefs of the religious infringe on the rights of others in society. You are welcome to believe that a priest can bless a communion wafer and chalice of wine, turning them literally into the body and blood of your savior. What you are not allowed to do is use that belief to control others, especially those outside your faith. The Eucharist may be important to you but in the end it really is just a cracker. Actions taken against it are irrelevant.

I am willing to continue discussing this issue, but I’ll ask you to refrain from making unbased assertions about who I am. I will attempt to do the same.


4 Responses to “A Response”

  1. Brandon said

    Ahh…you’re such a religion bashing cracker-phobe. Come on. Admit it.

    Seriously, do people even bother to read blog posts or think about them before responding? I’ve been reading this saga and nowhere is there any evidence for any type of hate or even any sort of anti-religious message in your posts. In fact, I thought you made some good points, some good jokes, and kept away from any overt disrespect for religious rituals. Also, there is no justification anywhere for being anti-theist.

    In my book the problem boils down to this: people that claim any sort of religious, political, or social message that goes against their direct beliefs as “militant” or “hate-speech” have really lost the ability to laugh at themselves. They’ve moved beyond the point where they can argue reasonably and instead have to turn to defensive measures. Don’t get me wrong- there is plenty of hate speech out there. But there is a VAST difference between hate speech, intellectual conversation, and reasonable argument. When you lose the ability to analyze and criticize yourself, you’ve become militant and backed yourself into a corner of irrational thought and action.

    Also, what is with the overt fear of “intellectuals”? Every time a religious topic comes up, someone in the crowd feels to need to make the claim that “intellectuals” are somehow to blame or are somehow twisting the argument. Who are these intellectuals? Where are they coming from? I would be proud to be referred to as an intellectual (minus the bull-crap aura that some associate with it) since to me that means I am willing to use my brain, think for myself, and reach a rational conclusion to a given problem. In that case, why would you NOT want to be intellectual? Intelligence is a gift. Whether you believe it’s from God, Allah, Satan, or universal chance you should still exercise your intellect. And for the record, I am not an intellectual either. I just like to learn.

    Finally, why does every situation have to have a victim? It’s getting ridiculous. Religious, spiritual, atheist- all of these sides want to claim that they are victims when the other side makes a move. To me it’s preposterous. You don’t have to be a victim. If you’re secure in your beliefs, there’s no reason to whine every time someone does something you think is offensive. In fact, by acting victimized, you’re giving the perpetrator more credit than they deserve. You can tell your side of the story and you can even make a case that what happened was offensive, but you don’t have to be a victim. It doesn’t help your case and only makes it sound like you’re whining rather than doing something constructive to explain your position.

  2. tungtide said

    Ahh…you’re such a religion bashing cracker-phobe. Come on. Admit it.

    Well, I do have an unnatural fear of Ritz crackers, but I don’t think that’s relevant.

    Whether religious or, not people have the right to disagree with what I say just as I have the right to offend them with my words. I would rather have a rational, reasoned, and respectful (but not necessarily alliterative) debate on the issues rather than throw around phrases such as “anti-theist” and “full blown hatred.”

    My beliefs are open to debate, open to mocking and ridicule, and I am open to changing those beliefs when new and better evidence is presented. Adaptation is often a trait associated with “intellectuals” and from the outside is seen as a bad thing. The people expecting consistency in their world-view do not deal well with changing information. A scientist/intellectual/professor/etc. who observes and understands the surrounding world will often be willing to change opinions. From this we get labels such as “flip-flopper” and “indecisive” rather than applauding the incorporation of new information into a more accurate view of the world.

    …you don’t have to be a victim. It doesn’t help your case and only makes it sound like you’re whining rather than doing something constructive to explain your position.

    This is the biggest problem that I see as I travel across the atheist blogosphere (and the religious one for that matter). Explain the position, and understand all sides of the issue without resorting to petty tactics and name calling.

    What I am trying to accomplish with this blog (aside from the interspersed humor, geek, and tech pieces) is a place where I can point out injustices and inconsistencies in the way people are treated based on their beliefs or non-belief. If atheists were sending death threats to religious leaders I would be first in line to denounce those actions. No one’s actions should be above scrutiny, no one should get a free pass, and everyone should be offended once in a while.

  3. TonyP said

    If this nutjob isn’t a Catholic and/or doesn’t believe in the Catholic faith why did he go to a Catholic Mass and receive communion?

    His friend was interested in learning about communion and wanted to see a host? Does anyone really believe that? If he was that interested he maybe could have spoken to the priest or one of the Catholics present?

    This idiot did what he did to disrupt the Mass and poke his eye in the face of the Catholics present for no other reason then to shit stir. Even after his actions he could have simply handed the Host back and that would have been the end of it. Instead he threw a hissy fit, demanded an apology (liek he was the aggrieved party) and held the Host “hostage”.

    Should he have been kicked out of the University? I don’t think so, but I’m glad to see he lost his position on the SGA. I believe the Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of Religion. As a Student office holder at the University you would think he would have some sense of responsibility to allow fellow students to practice their religion without harrassment from a Student Leader.

    You don’t get to fiddle around the edges of the strictures of the Constitution just because you don’t believe their faith.

  4. tungtide said


    First off, I’d like to see what evidence you’re using to support the assertion that Webster Cook is a nutjob or idiot.

    Anyone who has grown up in a non-Catholic religion would likely be interested in the ritual and objects involved in the sacrament of communion. While I don’t know the details about the friend who was interested in seeing the eucharist, it’s quite possible that he falls into my definition. If, having never experienced the Catholic religion, he was interested, he may also have had a fear of going himself and/or talking with a priest.

    Again, my knowledge of the details is incomplete (and I’ll gladly accept any correction) but I don’t believe that Cook disrupted the mass in any significant way. Certainly, it was not his intention to do so. He was a threatened party following his actions. Death threats and threats of physical violence are unacceptable. I make no qualifications there, the religious aspect is irrelevant.

    The guarantees in the Constitution allow freedom to practice a religion and the separation of religion from the government. Religion does not get a free pass and is not allowed to do anything it wants under the umbrella of “religious belief.” I still fail to see how Cook’s actions would be harassment and how they interfered with the ability of Catholics to practice their religion.

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