Category Archives: Humor

St. Clement of Alexandria: Nerd!

I’ve been reading Book 2 of The Paedagogos/The Instructor/The Tutor. And I think I’ve figured out why St. Clement isn’t quoted much by the “dress modestly” crowd.

“I say, then, that man requires clothes for nothing else than the covering of the body, for defense against excess of cold and intensity of heat, lest the inclemency of the air injure us. And if this is the object of clothing, see that one kind be not assigned to men and another to women.

For it is common to both to be covered, as it is to eat and drink. The necessity, then, being common, we judge that the provision ought to be similar. For as it is common to both to require things to cover them, so also their coverings ought to be similar….”


St. Clement goes on to advocate that Christians should have simple clothes that are completely undyed, and that Christian women should not desire anything else, because it’s just weak. He does say that maybe women’s clothes can be softer to the touch.

He also says that he thinks that having clothes that are moderately soft to the touch is much more beautiful than any color could be (sensory issues?), and he even thinks that dyes destroy cloth faster. (Which might have been the case, if Alexandrians were using harsh dyes.)

“And if such must be woven for the women, let us weave apparel pleasant and soft to the touch, not flowered, like pictures, to delight the eye. For the picture fades in course of time, and the washing and steeping in the medicated juices of the dye wear away the wool, and render the fabrics of the garments weak; and this is not favourable to economy.”

And then he says that having different kinds of garments is just too expensive. And he expressly condemned hems that hung down over the feet as “impeding the activity of walking, the garment sweeping the dirt off the street like a broom….”

And he says that an outfit should make it clear that the thing covered is better than its covering… which is kind of an interesting fashion goal. (Philosophers make me laugh.) But it was leading up to another comment about not buying expensive fabrics and dyes.

Now, as was typical for a Hellene of his time, he saw female modesty as meaning that the body was covered from ankle to neck, and that the head was covered outdoors. But it still cracks me up that he was advocating for a much more unisex fashion spectrum.

The chapter on shoes (Book 2, Chapter 12) is equally hilarious. He allows as how women have tender feet and shouldn’t go barefoot (he’s a city man), but he does think that men should go barefoot most of the time, except when in the military! (In the stinky city of Alexandria!!!) I mean, yes, barefoot is a healthier way to go, but practicality forbids!

And there’s a chapter on jewelry, where he says that piercing ears for earrings is contrary to Nature, and that unpierced ears represent a readiness to listen to God’s Word.

Ha! He is so nerdy. I’m going to have to remember some of this, when I want to tease people.

Piety is easy to turn into tyranny, you see, which is why we are supposed to use prudence as well as freedom. The things that are fitting or unfitting do tend to shift back and forth, whereas what is morally lawful and unlawful doesn’t change.

I’m a natural frump, myself, so I sympathize with St. Clement, and with Tertullian’s longing to throw away all togas. But a prudent man or woman can be stylish without being a moneywaster or an advertisement for vice… which is why we have a French Doctor of the Church like St. Francis de Sales!

Moderation in all things but virtue. But also, don’t badmouth what is good and normal.

(* Mind you, he means this in the sense of the same styles of robe. He also saw adult women as having hems that covered the ankle at best, or at least the knee at worst….)

(** Breaking news! Apparently St. Clement didn’t talk about headcoverings in this part of the clothing section!! It was a reference quote, talking about how the dying Polyxena still concealed “what must be concealed from the eyes of men.” So the proper translation would be, “But also [concealing] what of females ought to be concealed from the eyes”, with the implication being, “from the eyes of men.”)

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Filed under Dress code, Humor, Patristics, Pre-Vatican II Hats

Muggle is Middle English

It turns out that “muggle” is a Middle English word for “mullet tail, or person with a fish tail,” and it seems to have been used both ways. There was also “mugling,” which was a descendant of such a tailed person.

It’s in freakin’ Layamon’s Brut, for goodness’ sake.

Here’s the link.

Other spellings included “moggles.” The tail itself is also spelled “mughel.” Other spellings of the fish name include “mugil” (that’s the mullet fish), and “migal/migale” (also the mullet fish).

The Fordun Scotichronicon tells the story of the town of Muglington as being a place where everyone was born with tails, and that therefore people in Kent were called Longtails. It was the result of a visit by St. Augustine of Canterbury, when the pagan Saxon people refused to listen to his preaching. Even worse, they twisted what he said, and then mocked him by sewing fish tails onto his clothing. So God cursed them and their posterity with a tail on their posteriors.

The author says that the village of Thanewyth in Mercia also supposedly mocked St. Augustine and got the same punishment. And that St. Thomas a Becket got mocked in the Middle Ages by having his horse’s tail docked, but then the people of that town got tail-cursed also.

There is a fun little article about this which enumerates all the mocking and repeating and references to these stories that people from Kent got, in an 1896 issue of the Transactions of the Glasgow Archaeological Society.

Obviously this was not in Rowling’s mind, but it probably was part of why the name was so insulting, in her universe. Non-wizards are not just mudbloods; they are beasts, not even warmbloods, cursed with fishes’ tails.

Anyway, here’s a few more uses of the word “muggle” before Rowling.

UPDATE: I know it seems cliche to find out that one use of muggle is related to mujer, and a little dubious that muggle has a drug sense. But it’s true. And in fact, Spider Robinson used the obsolete drug sense in his 1981 professional Damon Runyon time travel fanfic, “Chronic Offender.” It’s technically not just a “joint,” but a tiny little marijuana cigarette made from female marijuana leaves. Which allegedly are more tender. (Not that this information is of any use to anybody, because drugs are stupid.)


Filed under fandom, Humor, Saint Stories

Possibly the Weirdest Easter Egg Scripture Linkages. Ever.

There are a fair number of early modern books of sermons that mention Easter eggs during Eastertide.

One of the funnier ones is a guy who rewords Song of Songs.

There’s a bit in Songs 7:13 that says, “Within our gates are all the fruits. I have saved the old and the new for you, my beloved.”

In Hebrew and Latin back then, there was no punctuation, or very little. So a fair number of Scripture scholars (Bede, for example) quote this verse as “All the fruits, old and new, I have saved for you, my beloved.” (“Omnia poma nova et vetera servavi vobis, dilecte mi.”) This could be taken as referring to making fruit into preserves, so sometimes the preachers talked a little about home cooking at this point.

In one of the early modern sermon books, Father turns this into: “All the” [eggs,] “old and new, I have saved for you, my beloved,” and makes it the verse reference for his whole Eastertide sermon series! I’m pretty sure this is a joke; but the logic is this.

1. Back when everybody fasted from eggs during Lent, hardboiling eggs was a way to save the “old” eggs until they could be eaten. (And the eggs were often saved in containers of brine, oil, or butter, which kept them even longer.)

2. Back then, people in love gave their loved ones elaborate Easter eggs, much as we give Valentine presents today to our sweethearts. So it was a romance thing, and fit in well with the Song of Songs.

Another fun Easter egg in these early modern sermon books is linked to the risen Christ being mistaken for a gardener. Maybe Christ was carrying flowers, to represent all the Fathers and saints whom He had plucked out of Hell when He was harrowing it! (And so on.)

Later in the year, one gathered flowers in baskets. So in Europe in places where flowers aren’t up at Easter, a basket of colored eggs is supposed to be like a basket of flowers.

Flowers represent the Church’s various kinds of saints, in an ancient analogy that we see in St. Ambrose and other authors. The martyrs are like roses, the virgins are like lilies or violets, and the angels are also like lilies. So red eggs represent Christ’s wounds and blood and the blood of the martyrs, and thus the roses. Other colors of eggs must represent other kinds of saints.

Easter egg pattern books were also a thing. You could trace, “prick,” or copy an elaborate picture onto an egg, and then color it for your beloved or your family. Some books had explanatory didactic religious texts, like the one I linked elsewhere on this blog. (Didactic pictures of kids egging someone’s house really needed an explanation.)

I think this kind of stuff is fun. Unfortunately a lot of this Easter egg stuff is in German, and I don’t read German.


UPDATE: Hello, Instapundit readers! A cool chick seems to have given me an Instalanche. What a nest thing to do! After brooding over it, I have added a few things to this post to make it more readable and useful to a wider audience.

If you click on the “Easter eggs” tag, you will find several other posts on this topic from previous years.

I do not guarantee the usefulness of any links to Google Books, as public domain texts all have been  grayed out for me since Christmas Day. I can’t even read them through other countries’ Google Books, except by direct links to pages.




Filed under Humor

“Goldtongue”: A Patristic Filk.

Copied from my Maria Lectrix podcast blog, and inspired by today’s patristic Thanksgiving selection by St. John Chrysostom. “Chrysostom” is a nickname. It means “gold tongue”. (In English, we tend to talk of someone being silvertongued, instead.) Here’s a very short resume of his career.

To the tune of “Goldfinger”:

Goldto-ongue –
He’s the man, the man with the honeyed words –
Not moneyed words.
His old tongue
Beckon you to break from your chains of sin,
But will he win?

Golden words he will pour in your ear,
But what’s true has to move past your fear.
For the Golden Horn’s lord knows his hyssop
Is a kiss-up’s death
From Bishop

Goldto-ongue –
Little men beware of his heart of gold –
Their hearts grown cold.

They don’t know real gold.
Lonely gold.
His word’s gold.
He speaks only gold.
Lonely gold.
His love’s gold!

One of my secret ambitions when starting the podcast was to write filks about the stuff I was reading, or the authors. I think this is just about the first time I’ve managed it.


Filed under Filk, Humor

Never Say Never — “On Eagle’s Wings” in Latin

Probably Holy Whapping has already done this, but it’s good fun for me.

So, by popular demand of the comboxes of The New Liturgical Movement:


Pinnas Sicut Aquilae
To the tune of: “On Eagles’ Wings” by Michael Joncas and the Bible

Latin Lyrics: Maureen S. O’Brien and the Vulgate

VERSE 1 (Psalm 90/91):

Qui habitat in abscondito,
in umbraculo Domini,
Qui habitat in umbraculo
Domini commorabitur,
dicens Domino “spes mea —
Deus meus, confidam.”

CH: (Psalm 40/41, Isaiah 46:4, Matthew 13:43)

(Et) adsumet pinnas sicut
aquilae et faciet
te fulgere sicut sol;
portabat te in pugillo, pugillo.

VERSE 2 (Psalm 90/91)

(Li)berabat de laqueo venantium,
de morte insi
Veritas eius, scutum.
Sub alis eius, sperabis.


VERSE 3 (Psalm 90/91):

(A) timore nocturno, non timebis;
a sagitta volante.
A latere tuo cadent
(mille), non adpropinquabit.


VERSE 4: (Psalm 90/91)

Quia angelis suis mandabit de
(te in) omnibus viis tuis —
in manibus
portabunt te, ne
offendat pes tuus ad lapidem.


Pretty much straight from the Vulgate, albeit with some chopping; but Latin is pretty easy to rhyme and rearrange. I’m afraid I paid no attention whatsoever to the quantities, though.

Now, in the original song, you’ll notice that it’s not “my God in whom I trust”, as in the psalm, but “My Rock in whom I trust”. I’m pretty sure that this is entirely for valid songwriting reasons (nice hard sound, “rock”). But if you find it easier, feel free to sing “Petrus meus, confidam.” It would even be strangely fitting, after last week!

I do not apologize for changing other bits to hew closer to the psalm, like “And famine will bring you no fear”. Also. the Vulgate does say that God’s truth will be our shield and protection, not His faithfulness. (Just so you know that I’m not making this stuff up.)

I do apologize for not solving all the English version’s scansion problems. Variable numbers of syllables put to the same piece of music are fine in a folksong learned orally, but they are a royal pain in a hymnal.

UPDATE: Slightly revised to deal with some of the problems noted above. Besides the obvious edit in the first verse, I also added “te” to the chorus in a couple places. (Which actually comes in handy to smooth out the scansion, as well as adding more purty internal rhyme.) I like the first line of the chorus better without a “te”, but you can put one in between “et” and “adsumet” if that’s what you really want. You can also change “dicens” to “dicet” (present or future), if it’s really bothering you, as one of the Vulgate translations does say it that way.

Sorry for the deficiencies of the audiofile; but it’s just for proof of concept, and it was recorded at 7 AM.


Filed under Church, Humor, Translations

Well, Dang! This Can’t Be Right.

The Truth Laid Bear’s Ecosystem is currently being updated — a situation which is often a source of valuable egoboo. At the moment, it says that this blog is an Adorable Little Rodent (at #20759) and that Maria Lectrix is a Flappy Bird (#24205).

Wow. I think I’m getting an altitude headache already. 🙂

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I have been bad.

(Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, which has managed to provide the world with either a picture of an annoyed wolfhound who has been woken from his/her nap, or a very alert wolfhound preparing to lunge for food.)

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Creepier ‘n “Cthulhu Calamari Co.”

Dorion-Gray Retirement Planning.

Yes, it’s a real company.

*brain hurts*

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Scenes from the Life of a Vatican Librarian

“For the record, the Vatican Library has acquired a certain reputation for manuscripts it does not possess or that have never existed. Among the requests for information are questions about the decrees of the Roman Senate concerning the trial of Jesus (in fact these are Medieval remakes taken from an ancient apocryphal text, the Acta Pilati), or the Necronomicon, a sort of “book of the next world” that the American writer H.P. Lovecraft mentioned as the presumed source of his “Gothic” novels. The author of one modern apocryphal work even maintains that he “transcribed” it from a “Nestorian manuscript” that the Library has never possessed.”

From an article on the Bodmer Papyrus. You have to scroll all the way to the end for the Lovecraft thing.

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Filed under Church, fandom, Humor

The Great Foundational Myths of Dayton

Over on Video meliora, our Columbus friend discovers on an old tome chronicling the full extent of the terrible 1913 Flood. Which was indeed widespread and terrible, even more than I had ever heard. (For example, I didn’t realize it hit Delaware, Ohio — I’ve never seen these pictures before.) This was worsened by Omaha having had a big tornado as part of the same Easter Sunday weather system. It must have been some kind of super storm system, like the one that produced the April 1974 tornadoes.

In Cincinnati and many other cities, the 1913 Flood is a thing fairly well known and remembered.

But in Dayton, it is one of the Great Myths, without which the town cannot be understood. (Not only was there a really horrible flood of very low-lying land, but also a gas explosion and huge fire. And everybody knew people who were only saved by their attics or roofs.)

Here are the Great Myths, in case you’re interested:

1. In the beginning, Tecumseh was born just outside Oldtown. He went on to kick butt. His brother was nuts and hated dogs, and William Henry Harrison kicked his butt. But Tecumseh was an enlightened guy who saved the butts of Americans at Raisin River, and we’re sad that he died. Although not sad that he didn’t take over the US. Tecumseh probably cursed the US presidents in years ending in 0, or at least it’s entertaining to think so.

2. A bunch of Anglos from New Jersey moved here and named the place Dayton. The most important guy was Newcom, who founded the tavern.

3. And God said, “Let there be canals.” And it was very good.

4. And God said, “Let there be airplanes.” And it was all Wright.

5. It rained for forty days and forty nights. And lo, God spoke to John Patterson, the guy who founded NCR, and told him to walk down to the edge of the river and look at the water. And Patterson did look, and then he did tell his factory workers to quit making cash registers and start building boats. And lo, he did have a plan for a boat, too. And lo, the waters came rushing down to drown Dayton, but John Patterson did organize and save everybody’s butts.

6. And the people said, “Remember the promises made in the attic.” And they raised money privately instead of raising taxes. And they built levees all over and five huge dams, because paranoia is good.

7. Then came World War II, and Dayton did kick butt all over. For we had Wright Field and GM and NCR and all the rest. And lo, we did kick Alan Turing’s butt with our decoding computer, which was all a big secret at the time but now is more evidence of our coolness.

8. The Soviets made Dayton a first strike target, thanks to Wright-Patt and the Miamisburg Mound nukes. Even after the SAC bombers moved away, we were still really important and sure to die. And there were tons of Soviet spies in town. Everybody else was jealous of these amenities.

9. A mighty tornado bore down upon Xenia, but lo, the new cool weather radar gadget had just been installed shortly before at WHIO. And so Gil Whitney the weatherman did warn the people to get down in their basements, and only a few people died horrible deaths even though most of Xenia got flattened. For the rest of his life, Gil Whitney could do no wrong and was a sort of weather saint. And the people of Xenia swore a mighty oath to be prepared for all disasters, and to help anyone else needing it. And they have kept those oaths to this very day.

10. We won the Cold War and then got a treaty signed for Bosnia. Okay, other people helped.

Btw, the book does include a couple of Dayton 1913 stories that I’d never heard before.

Rescuers went through the parish of Emmanuel Church in Dayton, distributing ham sandwiches and other food to the famished flood victims.

“We will not eat ham sandwiches,” said some of them. “This is Friday.”

Father Sieber held aloft a sandwich and said, “It is all right to eat this,” and suited the action to the word. He invoked a rule of the church which permits the suspension of certain religious obligations in time of stress…

Sister Helen of the Notre Dame convent of North Dayton saved 70 persons from the flood by throwing a rope from a window and then pulling refugees in off debris and out of the water. All the sisters in the convent were saved. The nuns prayed aloud while the water was creeping higher and higher on the walls of the convent.

This almost certainly refers to the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, who used to be over in Our Lady of the Rosary parish or somewhere close to there.

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Get Your Motu Running

Apparently, the Pope’s motu proprio widening Catholics’ access to the old “Tridentine” Mass is going to come out on July 7, along with a four page letter from the Pope explaining it.

Vatican sources say that of course this has nothing to do with the annual celebration in Pamplona of the translation of St. Fermin’s relics to their current resting place, aka the Running of the Bulls, and that the motu will not be printed on red cloth. Highly placed Vatican sources who just happen to be Irish say that it’s time for the festival of St. Maolruain to be celebrated with house-to-house visits, jigs, and drinking, as it was before the no-fun Dominicans suppressed the patteran. Even more highly placed sources claimed that it was designed to get some street cred and devotion for “mein homey Blessed Pope Benedict XI, yo.”

The document will allegedly allow any priest to offer Mass and other sacraments according to the old Tridentine rubrics, if requested by thirty people. If the bishop objects, he will have to take the case to a Vatican commission. This is the opposite of the present procedure, which forced individual priests to appeal to the Vatican if the bishop denied them permission. Some bishops say that this is unfair and against tradition and their rights. Vatican officials and many Catholic mothers point out that so was the method of removal of traditional Mass formats unfair and against tradition, and so was your blocking of petitions for traditional Mass, and we didn’t see you bishops complaining back then or being particularly democratic; so don’t cry us a river, you’re getting a much better deal now than anybody else did then.

Media sources and many baby boomers insist that the older format of Mass involved the priest turning his back on the people, not everyone praying toward the risen Christ who will be returning from the east just as He ascended in that direction. Theologian Justin Martyr protested this interpretation saying, “Are you on crack? He hath set his tabernacle in the sun: and he, as a bridegroom coming out of his bride chamber, hath rejoiced as a giant to run the way.” He also pointed out that Christian churches and graves have always been supposed to be oriented toward the east; and that he should know, because he’s a pretty dang early Christian.

In other news, Jews pray away from the back wall, not toward Jerusalem; and Muslims pray away from the opposite side of Mecca, around the globe’s curvature.

The move is widely blamed on the nostalgia for the old days of young Catholics whose parents weren’t even born in 1963, and never mind how that can be nostalgia. Other Catholics say they don’t personally care, but it’s a fair move and should make a lot of other people happy, unlike that silly teen rock Mass. Also, older Catholics who applaud the move say that it’s about darned time they got some use out of those Missals they bought in 1962.

Catholics whose Missals were confiscated at parochial school in 1963 by scary guitar-playing nuns are considering a class action suit to get their property back, especially their “prayer card collection which was stuffed inside the front cover. One of them was from my great-grandfather’s funeral. Geez, how will I ever get a copy of that?” Unfortunately, lawyers say it will be difficult to trace the scary guitar-playing nuns, as many of them became scary married ex-nuns in 1969, and then progressed to becoming scary new agey ex-wives by 1972.

Justin Martyr, Cecilia, Perpetua, Felicitas, and other illegal Roman immigrants say that this is the first step toward fighting discrimination against them in the so-called Latin Rite of Catholicism. “They say it’s the Latin Rite, but then they ban everything Latin,” said Cecilia, last name not provided. “They forget all the great artistic works that are their heritage, because they find them embarrassing. They put our statues and pictures in the basement closet. Heck, they don’t want to see us in church at all, not even on the stained glass. It’s like they want to forget where they come from.”

Ita, puella,” (You go, girl) agreed Felicitas. “They don’t want to be reminded of the catacombs, the tenements, the arena. They’ve sold out to the culture, and they just want to fit in. Even polyphony is just too street.”

“Of course, this sacrifices the convenience and unity of sharing a common language across nations and centuries ,” said Justin. “Philosophers and theologians throughout time used to be able to argue points easily, from primary sources. Today’s philosophy professors are often unable to comprehend the foundation texts of their own subject. Not that they actually want to learn anything, of course, since they think they know better than anyone else who ever lived. But Americans can’t even find editions of works on natural law that influenced their own Constitution, because everybody here is so bigoted against Latin….”

The interview was interrupted by a swarm of scary reiki practitioners, wielding Buddhist singing bowls and insisting that Mass be in a language they could understand.


Reporters were advised to consult the Curt Jester’s list of cliches for the construction of their motu stories.


Obligatory parody filk:

Get your motu running
Head down to your parish
Pick up thirty friends now
And you’ll have a happy day

Looks like it’s really gonna happen
Hear the Mass in a justice place
Say Kyries three times three, and
Explode into grace

Like God’s only begotten child,
We were born, born to be mild.
We eat of Him to live;
We’re never gonna die.

Born to be mild…
Born to be mild, yeah.


Filed under Church, Humor

Literary Fiction: The Formula

Or, The Romance Reader Strikes Back.

Fight the power!

I particularly like this one:

  • Adultery should be described as a kind of rite of passage and the author should not make judgment calls, unless the adulterer is a woman.
  • The male protagonist may commit as much adultery as necessary to make him feel isolated and pointless. His partner, a single female many years his junior, should be lonely, emotional, demanding and ungrateful for her lucky shot at having sex with a miserable, married, middle-aged man who lives in the suburbs.


Filed under Humor, Recommendations

Top Ten Reasons to Own a Handgun

Well, I’ll probably never buy a gun, because my hand/eye coordination stinks (which is why I prefer to fling large things). But honestly, this Gopnik fellow makes me want to run right out and buy me one.

You don’t need hand/eye coordination for shotguns, though….

ANyway, since Mr. Gopnik does allow as how people can go huntin’ with one of them there rifles, but opines, “There is no reason that any private citizen in a democracy should own a handgun”, I thought of a few reasons, just for his unimaginative benefit. So here are:

The Top Ten Reasons to Own a Handgun

10. Shooting a handgun at the range is a lot safer sport than snowboarding. Also, it involves very small explosives, which snowboarding does not.

9. “The police will be there in fifteen minutes, ma’am.”

8. You ought to get full value from the Bill of Rights, seeing as you pay taxes for it.

7. Shooting has always sounded like a fun father/daughter activity. Especially if Dad tells her boyfriend all about it.

6. Cellphones die. Handguns don’t have batteries. And shotguns don’t fit in your purse.

5. Because stalkers and crazy ex-boyfriends pay such close attention to court orders, and court orders are so easy to get.

4. Mr. Colt is Mr. Feminist.

3. Concealed carry — a very present help in times of trouble. Because God helps those who help themselves.

2. Grenades are a bit hard on local property values, and Mr. Pin is difficult to put back.

And the number one reason to own a handgun:

1. Shooting and smoking tobacco are the only recreational activities that shock people anymore.


Filed under Humor, Politics

Uncomfortable Self-Recognition II

I suspect I’ve finally figured out why God has been inflicting me with a serious lack of enthusiasm for science fiction fandom. (Excessive attachment and disordered emotions, check….)

How I did it was by reading St. John of the Cross and then this essay by Disputed Mutability (found via Eve Tushnet). Annoyingly, I can now see that I tricked myself into this same sort of overinvestment of my identity in a bunch of social behaviors and mental habits — but about my own interests, hobbies, friends, and favored viewpoints on life. I suspect this is something a lot of people ought to watch out for.

So… let’s replace Disputed Mutability’s example with Fandom Crystals!

Importance [aka Fandom Is A Way of Life]

I saw my [fannishness] as a very important, perhaps the most important, fact about myself.   I’ve said elsewhere that if you had asked me to describe myself in three words, [“fan”] would have been one of them. But that was an understatement. In fact, if you’d asked me to describe myself in one word, [“fan”] would have been it….  When meeting other people, I felt that if they came away from our encounter not knowing I was [fannish] (if that were possible!), they hadn’t really met me and they didn’t know who I was at all.


I felt this powerful bond with other [fannish] people, that our shared [fannishness] was this hugely significant thing. I would sometimes feel I had more in common with a [fangirl] who was otherwise nothing like me than a [non-fannish] one who was practically my clone in every other respect. It went way beyond the ordinary affinity that comes from shared experience or adversity.  [Fannish] people were my people.  In my isolated small-town teens, I longed for the day when I could surround myself with them, as my high school had little more than a handful of troubled [geeky gamers]. Upon arriving at college, I threw myself into [fannish] circles energetically….

Superiority [aka Fans Are Slans]

I saw my [fannishness] as being about far more than [literary] or [hobby] inclinations. It was about having all sorts of other qualities, about being a generally superior sort of human being. All kinds of virtues were attached to [fannishness] in my mind – a clever wit, an independent streak, a creative bent, a knack for [science, math, and engineering]… a flair for [early adoption of technology and its possibilities]… Of course, I didn’t actually possess most of those, but I belonged to a group that did, which was just as good…

Nobility of the Cause

Being [nerdy] was something that was always worth suffering… In my mind, however, my suffering at the hands of my peers on account of my [nerdiness] was woven into the struggle for [human progress], this grand cosmic narrative of good versus evil.   Somehow, just by being myself in spite of the consequences, I felt I was fighting a little battle in the great war for justice and freedom and equality, doing my part for the cause…


I used to think that my [fannishness] lay at the very heart of who I was. That it was somehow tied to my essence, in a way that was unlike almost any other desire or trait…


I saw myself as someone who was meant to be [fannish]. My [fannishness] meant that the proper shape of my life, if all went well, would involve [fandom and several Hugo Awards]. It was part of what I was made for…


For me, seeing myself as [fannish] meant seeing my [interest in science fiction and related bibliophilias] in and of itself as something to celebrate and delight in. It made me different, it made me special, it made me extraordinary, it set me apart from all those run-of-the-mill [Mundanes]. I saw it as an asset. I saw it as a beautiful thing…


I was very attached to the [science fiction/fantasy] direction of my [literary and visual media interests], and generally found the thought of their changing horrific… I had fought too hard [and spent too much time and money] to be [fannish] to let it go, even if doing so would have made my life easier in many ways.

(My apologies to the original author, and I hope you don’t think this is frivolously done. I’m being funny about it, but the seriousness of the problem is real.)

Of course, there’s a difference between being attached to a sin and being attached to one of the world’s good created things (ie, fandom), but once you’d been sucked down to your death, you would hardly care whether it had been done by quicksand or a whirlpool.

The thing is that, even though I knew consciously that fans were just people with geeky tastes that happened to coincide with mine, and that our community was just like any other likeminded community of people, that’s not how I felt in my heart or my gut. I set myself up for a lot of hurt that way. And when I did get hurt, I stubbornly fought against it in my usual way — by hurling myself against the brick wall again, determined that it would fall. This was destined for failure, because the brick wall of human nature is not mine to crack.

That didn’t mean that fandom was evil, or all fans; it meant that fandom was fallible, fallen, and human, and thus would occasionally fall for evil and stupidity. Since it was a community, sometimes that would happen en masse. Even if fans were as smart and wise and interested in truth as I built them up to be, the same thing would have happened. I ought to have thought myself lucky to have encountered only some relatively minor examples of evil groupthink.

But I can’t really think of myself as a fan now. Not really. I haven’t stopped liking science fiction totally, and I don’t hate conventions or parties or whatever. But I can’t get super-excited about them anymore. They’re just one more event I go to, like movies, or concerts. I can take them or leave them alone.

To be honest, I’m more concerned that I don’t get the same way about being part of the St. Blog’s Parish blogosphere. It’s just not healthy for a middle-aged woman like myself to go all SQUEE!! about much of anything.* Thus my dignified (sorta) humor about Motu Mania, and my disciplined avoidance of putting up all the sweetest, most touching pictures of Papa B that I might wish to. (Especially since I can let the Papa Ratzi Forum do that….)

* (The Happy Dance, however, will always be appropriate. As long as it’s not a liturgical Happy Dance.)

Seriously, though, one’s religion should be a passion but not a fandom. There’s a difference.

And Catholics are not Slan, born with mental powers that make them better than anyone else, and secretly running the world. Far from it. And that’s a good thing.

There’s more real joy in being a lousy saint working for God than in being the most awesome Slan.

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