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PZ Myers, the merry desecrator

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I just wrote about some interesting Eucharistic oddments, as this sacrament is fascinating to me and one of my favorite devotions. Yet somehow (despite subscribing to some of the blogs that discussed it) I completely missed "Crackergate" until now.

Background: The whole thing started when a Florida student took a consecrated host home instead of consuming it at Mass. Perhaps he acted out of ignorance (but also defiance, as he was there was something of a showdown in which parish officials asked him to return the host before he went home).

Enter biologist PZ Myers. He is rather evangelical about his beliefs, which include equating "atheism," "science," and "truth." I won't link to his blog "Pharyngula," not wanting to encourage his juvenile attention-seeking, but he gleefully documented all his actions there. (If you really want to read it, let Google help you.)

I said Myers "entered," but "barged in hollering 'Look at me, look at me!'" is more descriptive. He requested his followers readers send him consecrated hosts, which he pledged to treat to profane as foully — and publicly — as possible. They complied, and he published a photograph of a host in the trash can, with a rusty nail driven through it, along with pages from the Qu'ran and Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion.

The blog "The Big Stick" wrote eloquently about Myers' attention-seeking actions.

Myeres does not understand people's love of the Eucharist, so instead he insults them. He is guilty of a number of rhetorical sins, most prominently argument by sneer. Myers has described those upset by Eucharistic sacrilege to be "demented [unprintable]s" in the throes of "mass lunacy" and "astonishing ... insanity." (As you can see, he also plies the trade of perpetuating the stigma on mental illness.)

Myers says his e-mail bag is overflowing with death threats toward him and his family, and he proves it by publishing some of them. The nastiness of the hate mail he has received is enough to make me queasy. I think it is proof that you can have faith without forming your conscience to it, as I asserted in this post.

Elsewhere in his blog, Myers mentions secular humanism as "a good alternative" to Catholicism. If Myers really is a secular humanist, than his conscience seems not to be formed by his beliefs either. "Good will" and "tolerance," tenets of secular humanism's ideal of building a better world, are sorely lacking in Myers' actions.

Myers does not understand his opponents' outrage. Mark Shea remarked, "One gets the impression that both he and his followers, having nothing but contempt for Catholics, have no real grasp of the interior contours of Catholic faith and belief and therefore no grasp whatever of the hierarchy of values at work in Catholic life." Some out-of-context quotes (you would think Myers, who loudly deplores "quote-mining," would know better) led me to believe that Shea also does not understand Myers' motivation, but the whole of his writing shows that he does.

Some of the Catholic responders to Myers, though, do not understand his motivation. Myers does not intend to insult the person of Jesus Christ. How can he, when he views belief in God being as nonsensical as believing in the Tooth Fairy? He wants to demonstrate that "it's only a cracker." He doesn't even believe in such a thing as sacrilege, so he can hardly commit it. His sin is not of sacrilege, but just of being a jerk.

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