I’ll Take My Communion Untainted, Please

Don’t want no boy cooties messing up my holy snack. So there, @ScottGunn!

I’ve been following the “two-track communion” story for a couple of days now, and since it’s caused no end of amusement to my atheist and agnostic friends and family, it seems like it’s time to chuck my two penn’orth in the plate.

Really? We’re the problem? | Seven whole days

Now, friends, it’s time for the shoe to go on the other foot. Word comes from England that Blackburn Cathedral has set up two-track communion whenever a woman (gasp!) is presiding at the Holy Table. On those occasions, God-fearing (or, more accurately, woman-fearing) men can receive consecrated bread that is “untainted” by female hands.

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, ever since the whole “holy frackin’ cracker” issue was raised by PZ Myers. I’m not arguing with his position that religion is a scam and religious people are deluded – he may be right, we church-going folk may all be deluded. We just won’t know for sure until the end, and we’ll be dead and unable to Twitter back from the Great Beyond.

I’m a believer in what Jesus did for other people and how He tried to persuade them to be kind and care for “the least of these.” I’m a believer in trying to emulate that radical, welcoming love.

Somehow, as the early church fathers collated all the stories and texts about the Last Supper and turned it into a Sacrament, a meal commemorating one of the foundational stories of the Jewish people got turned into a magical feast. I don’t believe in transubstantiation (wine and bread turning into actual blood and flesh at a certain point)… no, I’m too much of a rationalist. I do believe that metaphor and symbolism is always being turned into dogma and literalism, which tends to get in the way of simply coming together to share a meal.

We’re all supposed to come together to share this mystery, which some may prefer to think is a magical bait-and-switch and others are content to see as a memorial re-enactment.

Meanwhile, back at Blackburn Cathedral, there are apparently about half a dozen people partaking of this “clean bread“, aided and abetted by some of the famously traditionalist clergy there. This is out of a congregation of about 200, which is a rather small crowd for a cathedral to my thinking. How awkward.

As it happens, I actually like taking communion from woman priests, although I haven’t often had the opportunity the last few years. Maybe I’ll kick up a fuss tomorrow and demand that I only take partake from some Reserved Sacrament consecrated by our female sojourner, who’s between parishes right now and worshipping with us. I’ll just refuse to take Communion if it’s been tainted by male hands, that’s what I’ll do. Maybe I’ll hold my breath, stick my fingers in my ears, and turn blue until I get my way.

Sound ludicrous? It is.

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