Wednesday, May 29, 2013

You Won't Be Needing Your Head


Can't look at this dude too often.

Within the last few weeks, a garbage truck serving the local gas company in Montana caused a minor ruckus, and Pope Francis named over 800 new saints. These two news items have been packaged in the same sentence for you courtesy of Murrmurrs, the home of weird analogy.

The gas company, as we all know, adds an odor to its product so you can tell if you're in danger of a natural gas leak. The gas by itself doesn't smell at all. Most of us know what the fake gas smell smells like, but just in case we don't, the gas company is happy to smack some on a scratch'n'sniff card and mail it to us. Recently, boxes of these cards were deemed expired, and had to be thrown away.

The pope's new saints got that distinction by allowing their heads to be removed over five hundred years ago for refusing to convert to someone else's religion. This is a tried-and-true method for achieving sainthood, but I'm not tempted.  I've never been all that hot on posthumous awards anyway. That's one of the beauties of being an apatheist: if someone held a scimitar to my neck and demanded I give allegiance to the one true god, I totally would, because I don't care. I've got no place to go when I die, and I'd just as soon put it off.

For the record, in spite of the fact that I hold no particular beliefs, I am against religious persecution. Put me down in the anti-persecution column in general.

But it's hard to visualize all those headless saints lined up in the clouds without thinking that religious persecution ain't what it used to be. You had your Charlemagne converting all of Europe at the point of a sword, you had your Crusades and your Spanish Inquisition, you had my forebear Elder William Brewster risking months of certain nausea to be free to inflict his religion on someone else, you had your witches roasting on a stake, and of course you have Mr. Hitler and his unfortunately tardy suicide.

Now we have people declaring that there is a war on religion. Mostly they mean a war on Christianity, since whacking Muslims is considered more of a patriotic gesture, and nobody gives a damn about atheists. Modern religious persecution covers the spectrum between A and B, between punting the little lord Jesus out of his manger at the town hall and wishing people a happy holiday. The healthcare mandate is implicated too, as there seems to be some threat that free contraception must be provided to employees in defiance of God's will. So far, no one's made much of a stink about keeping goat sacrifice illegal.

There's been a concerted effort to get out the word that there is a war on religion. Talking points have
been distributed to politicians and the media, just like the fake gas smell on the scratch'n'sniff card. Enough of those cards get into circulation and you have a vigilant public passing on their own emails and heightening the sense of danger. The internet is buzzing with claims of persecution. Just the other day I read the bitter complaints of harassment by a woman who claimed all her online comments that mentioned Jesus were getting thumbs-downed. In fact, the horror of thumbs-downing is reaching epidemic proportions.

The garbage truck in Montana was the final resting place of boxes of those expired scratch'n'sniff cards from the gas company, and as it compacted them while rolling down the street, a whole neighborhood was filled with the manufactured smell of gas. The garbage company, let's go ahead and call it Fox News, generated hundreds of panicked calls to 9-1-1. There never was a real gas leak, but it sure got a lot of people excited.

48 comments:

  1. Murr, you must pick up and move to Wisconsin! Whilst driving through the dairy state a few weeks ago we started counting the bill boards for Grandpa's Cheese House, Mother Mary's Cheese House, Anybody's Cheese House and many many many churches! We think they pray to Chee-sus. Since we don't eat much cheese we exited to Minnesota for Hot Dish........ Now there's a god!

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  2. Ooooo and Murr we live next to the plant that produces the smell they put in gas! Are we lucky or what?! Yes, occasionally there is a release and we run around lighting matches just to make sure it's not gas :)

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    1. See, you almost had me with all the cheese talk, but you all run around lighting matches just to make SURE....? Staying put.

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  3. Okay, I'm laughing now, it's all fun and games until I have to try and figure out a clever response to your clever post. Still laughing, so I guess I'll just give up trying. I will need my head, though, thanks anyway.

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  4. Maybe put pictures of the headless 800 in with the scratch'n sniff..... here's what happens if.....

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    1. Eeuuch. Headless. I'm short enough as it is.

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  5. Religion in general isn't what it used to be. 6,000 years ago, so they say, God created the universe; today we're supposed to be impressed when he manages to appear on a piece of toast. The decline of persecution from mass beheadings to mass thumbs-downing of internet comments is perhaps of a piece with that.

    Of course the real problem is that they claim they're being persecuted when they lose that freedom to inflict their religion on someone else. Every effort to protect gays from harassment or elevate them from second-class citizenship is now denounced as an attack on Christianity. Those scratch-and-sniff cards are getting pretty rancid.

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    1. You know, they're just offended on behalf of God. It's nothing personal.

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  6. Wait, your forebear Elder Brewster did what now? There's no link there, but I bet there's a story ... c'mon, Murr, you know you wanna tell it ...

    I think Infidel hit the nail on the head with that first sentence of the second paragraph in his comment.

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    1. Oh, I might be being unduly harsh on my ancestor. I guess he was fleeing religious persecution, but I'm always suspicious of deeply religious people. It took hundreds of years for that to peter out of my lineage. I did write about him once. It was one of my favorite posts.

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    2. Ah, that was before my time as an avid fan ... that post is a gold mine of funny. I just knew it! I must take some time and check out all of your older posts.

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    3. One easy peasy way to do that is to buy Trousering Your Weasel. One for yourself, and twelve for your apostles.

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  7. You are Head Procurer and Chief Peddler of Weird Analogies.

    I envy this.

    As for me, please add me to the roster of anti-persecution and apatheist to a "meh" degree.

    Pearl

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    1. Well, I have to specialize in something, because my cat doesn't drink gin and tonics.

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    2. Head Procuer. snort...it'll take ages to clean this keyboard!

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    3. I have got to start hawking keyboard condoms.

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    4. I KNOW! this is what I've been telling you.

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  8. scratch and sniff cards...well i just want them to be something tasty like bacon or chocolate...not stupid gas smell.

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    1. For sure if you were expecting roses and honeysuckle, the gas smell would be a disappointment.

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  9. I see Pootie is commandeered for both rolls here. Does he keep his head underneath his arm or behind his back when he's not playing pope? What does the Head Procurer (thanks, Pearl) know about this?

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    1. AR! I didn't even get that Head Procurer bit until now! Pearl, Pearl, Pearl. Um, no Poots were harmed in the making of this post. He am a flexible dude.

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  10. Some years ago I worked out I will never be a murder victim, as I am not nice enough. I know this because any report on a murder starts from the premise that the deceased was a WONDERFUL person who will be sadly missed. Now, thanks to you I learn that I will never become a saint. Luckily this is not something on my bucket list.

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    1. Ew. Bucket list made me think of that bucket that goes on the other side of the guillotine. Erase erase erase.

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  11. Every time I go to the doctor for a yearly check he gives me those stool sample cards to complete and return...I always label them: scratch and sniff. I didn't know there was a market for those; I could supply an unlimited source.
    the Ol'Buzzard

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    1. Hey, I've got a few of those too. I just played it straight, but I like your idea a whole lot more. Oh, as long as I'm throwing in gratuitous links to my own stuff, here's my stool sample post.

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    2. Friend of mine said he had Scratch and sniff tattooed on his butt. Seems legit.

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  12. Murr: You probably already know this.....but as a boy who grew up with a father who was a life-long employee of the Washington (DC) Gas Company, that stinky-smell stuff is frequently referred to as "Mercaptan": from Wikipedia --
    "Since natural gas and propane are colorless and odorless, a small amount of methyl mercaptan or ethyl mercaptan is added to make it easy to detect a gas leak." It is fascinating to learn that in some form, it is present in both the human brain *and* human feces...it also plays into the "smelly asparagus-pee" phemonena. Here's the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methanethiol

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    1. Oh Ed! I love you! I'd go to that link for the asparagus-pee explanation alone. I have a story about asparagus pee.

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    2. I've just realised that all these years we've been saying "pea brain" we really meant "pee brain."
      Semantics. Oy!

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  13. I'd convert in a heartbeat if death were my alternative. Not because i don't care but because I DO. Very much. About my own life, anyway. I could always secretly not believe in a god.

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    1. Try to not believe in a god that isn't omniscient.

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  14. You mean I have to get my head chopped off to become a saint? I thought all I'd have to do is save a few lepers, maybe walk on a bit of water.

    Damn, I'm going to need a new game plan.

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    1. I'm not sure, but I think walking on water would get you some kind of blasphemy charge, not sainthood. I mean, the nerve.

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  15. Well one thing for sure, an Atheist will never be able to tell me, "I told you so!"

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    1. Nope. Hey, remember how Paula Poundstone said that, as an atheist, she couldn't do that door-to-door evangelizing? She said she'd have to knock on the door and when someone answered she'd just shrug and say "I got nothin'."

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  16. Okay, now I find this hard to believe...wouldn't they all have to be scratched to stink???
    Are you pulling my leg???

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  17. Damn, you just reminded me of John Water's movie Polyester when all the theater goers got a scratch and sniff card. Some were worse than the natural gas version.

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  18. So if you get your head lopped off and wait 500 years or so, people will think you're special even if you smell like a gas leak? Then there will be a shortage of goat cheesus? I'm so confused!

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    1. I'm sorry, I blacked out after seeing the words "shortage" and "cheesus." Mercy.

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  19. Hahaha, being named a saint (on religious grounds) is WAAAAAY overrated! SO I'm taking it to my own level and conferring sainthood on whomever I deem worthy - likely recipients will be expert bakers; people who have a clue and give a damn; and bloggers who make me laugh out loud. So that puts you on the list!

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    1. There has never been a Saint Murr. It's high time.

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  20. I am with you on the staying alive bit. It has always been my clear demand that no one tell me any vital secrets because when threatened with torture I'm spilling my guts.

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  21. I'll piggy-back on Ed's mercaptan comment. Mercaptan is also given off by decaying animal carcasses. Apparently, vultures are drawn to the smell of mercaptan, as it alerts them to food. What's one of the tell-tale signs of a large-scale natural gas leak? That's right -- kettles of vultures flying nearby!

    I want to scream whenever fundamentalist Christians complain about the "persecution" they're enduring. They should talk to Christians in Pakistan or Egypt, who are ACTUALLY being persecuted by their neighbors, before they complain.

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    1. See, I would've figured the vultures were just anticipating. You get a big enough gas leak and explosion and the vultures just get bite-size nuggets out of it. Who wouldn't want that?

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