Background Probability

The Agnostic Popular Front has moved to its new home at Skeptic Ink, and will henceforth be known as Background Probability. Despite the relocation and rebranding, we will continue to spew the same low-fidelity high-quality bullshit that you've come to expect.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Contra Bacon

Every faith community is occasionally riven over matters of doctrine and practice, and this goes for communities of unfaith as much as anyone else. Those who see themselves as reformers may be recorded by history as splitters, heretics, or worse. Acutely aware of these issues, it is with great trepidation that I have come to the conclusion that I must speak out against bacon.

That's right, bacon. It is growing threat to the freethought community, and I'm here to warn you against it. Firstly, it is an explicitly pro-Christian food. Allow me to quote just a bit from the late great Christopher Hitchens on this point, from God is Not Great (pp. 40-41):
Porcophilia can also be used for oppressive and repressive purposes. In medieval Spain, where Jews and Muslims were compelled on pain of death and torture to convert to Christianity, the religious authorities quite rightly suspected that many of the conversions were not sincere. Indeed, the Inquisition arose partly from the holy dread that secret infidels were attending Mass—where of course, and even more disgustingly, they were pretending to eat human flesh and drink human blood, in the person of Christ himself. Among the customs that arose in consequence was the offering, at most events formal and informal, of a plate of charcuterie. Those who have been fortunate enough to visit Spain, or any good Spanish restaurant, will be familiar with the gesture of hospitality: literally dozens of pieces of differently cured, differently sliced pig. But the grim origin of this lies in a constant effort to sniff out heresy, and to be unsmilingly watchful for giveaway expressions of distaste. In the hands of eager Christian fanatics, even the toothsome Jamon Iberico could be pressed into service as a form of torture.

Five years ago, Hitchens warned us of the potentially evil uses of bacon, but many devout atheists have refused to heed his warnings. Instead, they continue to interject bacon into conversation and inject it into recipes, with wanton disregard of the role it has historically played in enforcing Christian dominionism throughout the Iberian peninsula.

Why, you ask, are Christians so keen on bacon? Is it merely a means of distinguishing themselves from Jews and Muslims, or does this perverse porcophilia go deeper? It goes deeper, my friends, it goes so much deeper, to the very roots of the Christian Church.

The two great pillars of the early church were, of course, the apostles Paul and Peter. Paul's mission was to bring the Christian gospel to the Gentiles throughout the Roman Empire, peoples already quite familiar with and indulgent in all manner of pork products. His major hangup was with the practice of circumcising new Christian converts as if they were Jews, a ritual requirement which was not exactly helping along his missionary efforts, and which he helped to abolish by writing various screeds against it. Needless to say, new converts flowed in more rapidly once this issue was definitively settled in Paul's favor.

Peter's mission, meanwhile, was primarily to bring the Jews into the Christian fold, men who were circumcised from birth but may have been well educated and culturally Hellenized. For these men, circumcision was not a live issue, but pork surely was. In major centers of Roman influence such as Sepphoris and Caesarea, first century Jews would have seen their Gentile neighbors herding swine, pulling pork, and frying bacon. They would also be aware from their rabbinical training that God changes the dietary rules every so often, such as just after the Noahic flood and again with the proclamation of the Levitical holiness code. They would also know that any true Messiah would bring with him a new order of the ages, the inbreaking of the Kingdom of God, and with that the possibility of a new set of social relations and dietary rules. Jesus alluded to such an upheaval when he repeatedly proclaimed that "the last will be first, and the first will be last," but did that saying apply only to persons, or also to that which they consume? Would the most ritually unclean of animals be cleared for human consumption in the new dispensation?

With the smell of frying bacon still wafting about, Peter fretted over this question day and night, until finally the answer came to him in a dream. It looked something like this. Take a moment to browse through those illustrations, please. I'll wait.

Ok, did you notice anything particularly odd about those heavenly picnic blankets? Right. Most of those animals either aren't that appealing (reptiles), or they are incredibly hard to get (e.g. lions and bears), or they are already kosher. The only domesticated animal on the menu that clearly appeals with the Hellenized Jews of the time period was, you guessed it, the pigs. Peter's amazing heavenly flying-carpet picnic-blanket at once solves the problem of how to give the men who are already circumcised an incentive to join the nascent Jesus movement - BACON!

In conclusion, then, we've seen that the two great pillars of the early Christian church solved similar recruitment problems in a similar way, by assimilating themselves to the culture of the gentile polytheists. In doing so, however, they sealed the fate of the Christian church forever. No longer could it maintain its identity as an insular Jewish sect, but instead it has to look outward for new converts, leading eventually to global colonization and the wholesale destruction of native peoples by viruses originally endemic to Indo-European swine herds.

Do freethinkers really want to associate ourselves with an animal that has wrought so much harm in the name of Christ? Or shall we instead stand boldly on the side of all that is right and good and pure, namely, pasta? The FSM will no longer tolerate second-billing to this upstart bacon meme. There can be only ONE truly HOLY food. Pastafarians of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your hypercholesterolemia.

1 comment:

Michelle Sanford said...

Thank you for the post. :-)