Every Good Friday, I try to do a little meditation on the meaning of the day, and this year is no exception. We’ll try to keep the tone reasonably high, as usual.
Now, let me just reflect on the background to this for a moment, if I may, and I’ll try not to detain you long, unless you choose to remain with us to the end. I hope you will.
When I was a child growing up, there were many churches, just as there are in America or Britain or anywhere else in the world, but this was a particularly benighted country, much as America still is, or Saudi Arabia, though we didn’t stone women to death in this country. Instead, we shoved them into nun-run laundries as slaves and kept them there until they died, friendless and without family.
We were much more civilised than those unwashed foreigners.
My Auntie was a devoted believer in Catholic superstition and used to drag me by the hand to all the churches in town. My favourite was St Michael’s where a statue of the Archangel stands on top of the spire. He’s killing a serpent with his spear and he’s saying in Latin Take that motherfucker!
Of course, that’s not what I started to talk about, but it is related.
I used to know a priest who had coeliac disease. He applied to his local bishop for a special exemption to use gluten-free bread when turning Jesus into a biscuit, but he was refused permission.
I found that hard to understand. The Catholic doctrine is that the biscuit becomes the body and blood of Jesus Christ, which of course I find fascinating, having a considerable interest in scientific matters. I was always interested to know how bread could actually be flesh, and not just in a symbolic way.
Oddly enough, most Catholics are unaware of this central doctrine of their church, that the consecrated host is not simply symbolic, but actually IS Jesus.
So. Gluten-free bread was not acceptable to the bishops, and I wondered about that. I wondered what logic they applied to their refusal. Did they decide that a gluten-free biscuit would lead to a gluten-free Jesus? Did they decide that a coeliac-friendly Christ was not the future of Christianity? I’d love to know which chemist-bishop figured this out.
Do you know what I also wondered?
When the priest does the hubba-hubba-hubba turning the biscuit into Jesus, what are the health and safety precautions? For example, if I staggered into the church after a night on the piss, and maybe I had a half-eaten kebab in my pocket, or an old ham sandwich, would the sparks from the priest’s fingertips accidentally turn my kebab into Jesus? Or if the kebab was wrapped in aluminium foil, would that be enough to deflect the holy radiation? What about if my pocket was full of forgotten digestive biscuit crumbs? Could I end up with Jesus-in-da-pocket syndrome? Could I sue the Catholic church? Oh wait, hang on, the taxpayer would cover it like they did with the child-abuse claims. What was I thinking?
Take it a step further. Since the bishops were so worried about gluten-free biscuits, what exactly is necessary to create a fully-functioning Jesus? Is it the glutens? Are they essential or would it be possible to convert a bag of chips into a Saviour, or would the saturated fats get in the way? So many questions.
There was a tank outside the Dominican church, and that’s where my Auntie used to get a little bottle of holy water.
Now there’s a thought.
What exactly is holy water? Are the molecules of holy water in some way different from ordinary water? Like heavy water. I don’t know, but I do know that my Auntie used to collect this water and then we’d have to dab the stuff out of a little sponge-thing in the hall and go nub nub nub Jesus num nub nub Mary Joseph fucking Jesus before leaving the house.
I have no idea why, but I have to confess that this holy water notion got to me. What the hell is this, I asked in my childish error.
It came to a head when a Dominican called to our school to lecture us on utterly insane Catholic shit that none of us could possibly believe because we were reasonably intelligent children.
Even though he was a Dominican, I didn’t ask him about the auto da fé, because I was only seven and had never heard of the auto da fé, but I did ask him about the holy water tank outside his church that my Auntie used to fill a little bottle from once a week.
Does a priest come out every day and zap it to make it holy? That’s all I wanted to know.
No, it turned out. A priest didn’t come out every day to zap it. In fact, a priest didn’t even come out once a year to zap it.
A priest, in truth, didn’t come out to zap it, at all. Ever!
Science. That’s why. This kindly torturing Inquisitor explained that there was a two-inch gap below the tap on the holy-water tank. Ullage. And there was a float-valve inside the tank, much like your average toilet cistern. The logic was very simple. There was always a little holy water left below the level of the tap, which the new water mixed with, making the whole lot holy.
Holy homeopathy Batman!
And that’s what started my little childish brain wondering. If a tiny drop of water at the bottom of a tank can continue to sanctify endless inpouring of mains water, without clerical rezapping, then perhaps holy molecules are indeed massively powerful.
I know. All right? I know how many molecules are in a micro-minimum tiny metric fuckfull of Avogadroness. I know! It’s ludicrous how many molecules there are in the tiniest sparrow-spit. I know this. It only adds strength to my conjecture, which is this: if an inch of holy water at the bottom of a tank is enough to turn every drop of incoming water into mega-powerful-strength-watery-stuff, then what happens when this amazing substance gets into the watercourses or evaporates and falls as rain?
What happens then? Eh? What?
What happens when it gets into the ocean?
Are all the oceans of the world holy water or does the salt neutralise it?
It’s all about science really, isn’t it, this religion stuff? All very logical.
And this is why, on Good Friday, we need to contemplate the wonderful miracle of the resurrection. The zombie Jesus.
To be more specific, We need to contemplate the various body-parts Jesus left behind him, including, but not confined to, his foreskin. Dandruff. Toe-nail clippings. Hawking and spitting from chest infections. Other nameless stuff.
Where did all those blessed molecules go?
Didn’t they simply get broken down by microbes and enter the food chain? Didn’t they become dispersed and part of the living chain? Of course. And some of them ended up as single molecules in a fly or a mosquito trapped in amber, but others must have clustered.
Out there somewhere is a fish with more Jesus-molecules than all the rest.
I fear that fish.
(With thanks to Achilles for the pics)
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