Monday, September 18, 2006

Sadly, missing the point

In college I had a favorite professor who had once trained to be a priest. He left the seminary and Christianity because of the absurdities he found in Christianity. The example he typically gave was the question of eating meat on Friday. As the story goes, he asked if someone would go to hell for swallowing a piece of meat on Friday that had been stuck in their teeth from Thursday's dinner. He was told, if it's more than an ounce yes, if it's less than an ounce no. I always just chalked this up to pre-Vatican II Catholicism gone wrong.

Of course, even in the rigidity of pre-Vatican II the question would not have been whether one would go to hell, but rather whether one needed to go to confession, but the point is basically the same.

This story came to mind this weekend as I was dividing up some hamburger to freeze in 1-pound blocks. I had never really thought before about just how big an ounce of meat is. It's nearly the size of a golf ball. So what my professor had been told was, if you have a piece of meat about the size of a golf ball stuck in your teeth Thursday night, and then you eat it during Friday's fast, you need to go to confession!

I have to wonder...did he really miss the point that badly?

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