Whilst digging around in some old files, I came across an early attempt at divining the meaning of some frequently found, but seldom defined, terms that live in/on/around the Holy Smoke echo. Although these shibboleths are sometimes heard/seen outside the forum; in the echo, they have a life and meaning all their own. Please note: this is not an attempt to usurp Herr Rice's excellent "HolySmoke FAQ" list, but more to an attempt to, hopefully, add to it a bit.
Remember, this list was originally printed on unrecycled paper. Great, huge bleeding swaths of virgin forests were cut down and the land devastated in both The Big Piney and Chequmagon National Forests. The ink was made from minerals strip mined in some of the most erstwhile scenic lands in North America. Thousands upon thousands of cute, furry and fuzzy little animals were left cold, wet, shivering and homeless. So treat this lexicon with all its due respect.
ATHEIST: (1.) One who denies the existence of a God(s); (2.) one who disbelieves the existence of a God(s); (3.) one who doesn't give a flying fuck either way and spends their time trying to understand reality rather than illusory hereafters.
ARCHBISHOP: A Christian ecclesiastic of a rank superior to that attained by Christ - H.L. Mencken
AUDITORIUM: An indoor gathering place where evangelicals of the electronic media pack their paid audiences to, on cue, nod in agreement, look evangelical, or exclaim Hallelujah! Much is spoken at great length and with firm conviction, but little is said. Being a typically family enterprise, the evangelist is generally accompanied by his googly-eyed wife, mother-in-law, son, and miscellaneous other progeny who attest to his devotion to family, motherhood and the Moral Majority. Etymologically, the word auditorium has mixed roots, AUDIO- derives from the Greek "to hear", and TORO-, from Spanish meaning "bull".
AWE: A religious precept by which one bows and scrapes in the face of things not understood.
BIBLE: A classic tome of delightful whimsy written two or three thousand years ago, somewhere west of Eden, by half-civilized Hebrews and Shebrews. The opus is a compendium garbed in contorted convolutions, puerile platitudes, improbable parables, and archaic anachronisms; told and retold in double re-entry flashback. Much of the text was passed along by word of mouth or voice-over. But owing to the total recall of these early near- savages, the sage words of the prophets were preserved verbatim, without embellishment or exaggeration. And in those days, nobody lied. It was the first of the genre which depicts harlots as heroines and women as weak, tempting or irrelevant. Being inerrant, inspired, infallible, and impossible, everyone now agrees that the Bible is the best guide as how we should live our lives.
BIGAMIST: (1.) A person who twice gives up liberty in the pursuit of happiness, (2.) A mistake in companion selection for which the Mormon Church judges the penalty of trigamy, (3.) A large Italian fog.
BOTANY: The study of the plant kingdom as opposed to animals and minerals or fundamentalists. Special interest pertains to flowering plants which Man, in his vanity, believes God created for our pleasure, but were actually evolved to attract insects and promote effective cross-fertilization. A particular attention is given to botanical spontaneous combustion; in the character of burning bushes.
CARTESIAN: Of or pertaining to Rene Descartes, originator of the X, Y, Z coordinate system of geometry and the timeless dictum "Cogito ergo sum" (I think, therefore I am). Actually, this later turned out to be a mistranslation of "Coito ergo sum", but no one gave a fuck.
CENTAUR: An animal of the Bible which is half-man, half-horse; with human foreparts and a horse-like posterior. Now regarded by most experts as extinct, although the essence of the centaur is epitomized in the modern fundamentalist.
CHICKEN CACCIATORE: An early Italian convert to Christianity, who in A.D. 64 chose not to become leonine lunch in the coliseum of Rome.
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE: A church founded in the late 19'th century by Mary Baker Eddy; proficient in the curing of imaginary diseases.
CHRISTIANITY: One of several only true religions achieved not by coming to the faith at the end of a long journey, but rather by standing still. Christians become so by a lucky accident of birth being born in the right place at the right time. Otherwise, Heaven forbid!, one might end up a Muslim, a Jew, a Sikh, or a Buddhist. To be a member of the correct subset of Christianity, say Calvinist, one must choose his or her parents wisely. One does not need to embrace a religion as a religion imprisons you. All this obviates choice, evaluation and independent inquiry.
CHRONUS NEXUS: The brief, fleeting and instantaneous moment in the history of a country when the ascending Catholic Church achieves a 51% majority of the population through miscalculation in the workings of papal roulette, and just before the achievement of 99 percent Catholic plurality. This occurred in Italy in 1457, Spain in 1320 and Ireland in 1582. For the USA, the anticipated date is 1999.
CHURCH: A place in which gentlemen who have never been to Heaven brag about it to persons who will never get there. - H.L. Mencken
CHURCH OF ENGLAND: A place where an atheist would feel comfortable.
CONVENT: A place of retirement for women who desire leisure to meditate upon the vice of idleness.
CRYPTOZOOLOGY: The pseudoscience of studying Bigfoot. Paluxy Man, the Loch Ness Monster, the Abominable Snowman (Yeti) and other things that go bump in the night. Man is a very small animal and the night is large and full of mystery.
DARK AGES: A dismal period in human history from 300 to 800 C.E. when little or nothing much happened, and civilization stagnated. The beginning of the Dark Ages is synchronous with the establishment of the Christian Church. Historians agree in a direct relationship, but disagree as to whether religion was the cause or the effect of the Dark Ages.
DELUGE: An impressive first experiment in baptism which washed away the sinners as well as the sins of the world.
DREAMER: An evolutionary scientist asking for equal time in the pulpit on Sunday morning.
EDEN: A luxuriant garden where the devil experiments with the seeds of new sins and encourages the growth of stable vices.
ELLIPTICAL WRITING: Writing with equal sense, or lack thereof, when read forward or backward - or quite possibly sideways. A classical example is found in the tortured and perplexing writings of Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910), the founder of "Christian Science", in which only the spirit world is real. Her basic propositions were:
God is all in all,
God is good, good is mind,
God spirit being all, nothing is matter.
These basic axioms Mary Baker Eddy observed may be equally understood if read backwards. This, she believed, mathematically proved their perfection and exact correspondence with ultimate truth. Viz:
All in all is God,
Mind is good, good is God,
Matter is nothing, all being spirit God.
Which is really a fallacy, for the real meaning becomes all too apparent when the sentences are really read backwards:
Lla ni lla si dog,
dnim si doog, doog si dog,
rettam si gnihton, lla gnieb tirips dog.
(Sung to the tune of "Louie, Louie".)
ELLIS' LAW: Named after Dr. Robert Ellis, a psychotherapist. This law states "Religious indoctrination creates people who are inflexible, dogmatic, and bigoted. Either religion appeals to the stupid or religion results in stupid people." Its reality is supported by the inverse correlation between IQ scores and religiosity. (Ellis, 1964, 1976, 1985, 1992.)
EVANGELIST: (1.) A bearer of glad tidings assuring us of salvation while our enemies roast to a nut-brown discomfort in hell - A. Bierce, (2.) A country bumpkin of the wackoright turned religious huckster who, draping the illfitting mantle of piety around his shoulders and stomping off on a witch hunt, ferrets out secular humanists and other miscellaneous bogeyman. With a primitive view of this world and a hallucinatory view of the next, he harangues lost sinners in an impassioned and declamatory style to repent and be born again. Threatening hell-fire and brimstone for various offences, he is strangely quiet regarding hookers, pornography and seedy motels in New Orleans.
FAIRY: An angel who has fallen into apostasy and hence given to dancing, games of chance, trivial pursuit and making fudge.
FAITH: (1.) A belief without evidence in what is postulated by one who speaks without knowledge of things without parallel - A. Bierce, (2.) a belief in something known to be false.
FEAR: Phobia, for example: hierophobia (fear of priests), hagiophobia (fear of the Pope), demonophobia (fear of demons), phasmophobia (fear of ghosts), pneumatophobia (fear of spirits), uranophobia (fear of heaven), stygiophobia (fear of hell), agyrophobia (fear of crossing the street), apeirophobia (fear of infinity), phronemophobia (fear of thinking) and phobophobia (fear of fear).
FUNDAMENTALIST: (1.) One who finds every word of the Holy Writ to be true, if not literally, then literally and mystically. When one finds a text convenient to his argument, it is quotable as ultimate proof, reality notwithstanding. (2.) A backwoods rustic living amongst the 'coons, 'dillos and magnolias who is functionally illiterate. A boll-weevil Southerner who believes in biblical literalism and is suffused with hatred.
GEOLOGIST: A scientist who walks on water by knowing where the rocks are.
GLOSSALALIA: The gift of tongues. Pious prattle from the pulpit. To babble unintelligibly with intent to bamboozle. to talk while saying nothing - and vice versa. To listen only when talking. Commonly practiced by fundamentalists who, generally speaking, are generally speaking. GOD: (1.) The Supreme Being, eternal and infinite Spirit, Creator and Sovereign of the Universe. - Webster's. (2.) A being of more than human attributes and powers, a deity, especially a male one. - Webster's (3.) Old-Man-in-the-Sky. - Buonarroti Michalengelo (4.) Nature. - Benedict Spinoza and Albert Einstein (5.) Not supernatural but ultranatural. Can only be described in terms yet to be discovered. - Nobel Price (6.) A Santa Claus for adults. - A. Aaron Aardvark (7.) Hydrogen. - an astronomers' characterization (8.) Eleventh dimensional De Sitter space. - cosmologists' definition
(9.) The great "I am", all knowing, all seeing, all acting, all loving, and eternal. Principal, mind, soul, spirit, life, truth, love, overall and all. - Mary Baker Eddy (10.) Illusory or nonexistent. - A pragmatists' definition.
(13.) Shiva, Vishnu, Zoroaster, ad infinitum. Summary: if you are asked if you believe in God, perhaps the most confusing answer you can give is "Yes".
GURU: Divines, shamen, deacons, reverends, priests, medicine men, warlocks, dowsers, jujus, necromancers, sorcerers, dervishes, obeah men, yogi, voodoos, witches and fools who practice the black arts of thaumaturgy and omphaloskepsis. They successfully exacerbate curable disease while puzzling each other.
HARANGUE: Florid oratory with more gusto than decorum by a televangelist in which the Ultimate Truth is demonstrated by thunderous conviction; particularly before the altar call and the plate pass.
HEATHEN: A benighted creature who has the folly to worship something he can see and feel. - A. Bierce
HEAVEN: That never-ever land adjacent to the V, formerly thought to be in the sky just beyond the Firmament. Modern space research has made this location dubious so that Heaven is now regarded as being far beyond Nowhere.
HEBREW: A male Jew, as opposed to a She-brew. - A. Bierce
HERETIC: A member of the forum who has agreed, with bad grace, to differ.
HOLY GHOST: (1.) His Indescribable Holiness, (2.) Intentional inexistance and presence in absence. His Nondescript Holiness.
HOMO SAPIENS: (1.) Man, the wise. (2.) Man, the sap.
HYMNAL: A liturgical songbook for use in a church, cathedral, basilica, synagogue, masjid, oratory, chantry, or sacarium where words too bizarre, fanciful, or whimsical to be recited aloud may yet be sung with perfect propriety.
HYPERBOLE: A statement so extravagant that it almost rings true. Example: "Jesus of Nazareth was the greatest scientist to ever trod the globe." (Mary Baker Eddy). A converse statement is: "The apparition of Karl Marx on Earth was the Second Coming of the Messiah." V.I. Ulianov
INDEFINITION: De-defining words so that they are intentionally vague, fuzzy and indefinite. A cardinal sin among scientists, who pride themselves on being precise, but a virtue among creationists who desire to confuse rather than elucidate. They term evolution as a religion and a theory as a guess. And the word God is another example. It is a concept so broad and inclusive that covers everything in general but nothing in particular. Creationists downplay language and upgrade the limbic system at the expense of the cerebral cortex.
INFIDEL: A term of reproach which Christians and Muslims, in their modesty, agree to apply to each other.
INSTITUTE FOR CREATION RESEARCH (ICR): A thinly disguised fundamentalist religious bunch which is not an institute, and does no research. They spend their time floating horsetail reeds in aquaria, finding questions to their answers and pestering school boards to include their hallucinatory (and narrowly sectarian) view of religion as science. A more appropriate name for this group of sadsacks, flubadubs and third rate hobbyists would be: "The Anti-Science, Anti-Evolution Hysterical Propaganda Front".
JOSS STICKS: Small sticks of incense burned by orientals in their tomfoolery and in cheap imitation of certain rites of the orthodox Christian church. - A. Bierce
KAABA STONE: A large stone, said to be a meteorite, worshipped by Muslims at the sacred Kaaba temple in Mecca. The stone was hurled by the Archangel Gabriel at the Patriarch Abraham who asked for bread.
LACHRYMA CHRISTI: A Campanian dark golden wine of fruity bouquet with no particular pedigree but with an amusing pretense. "The tears of Christ, my boy, the tears of Christ." says Brother Ignatius, savoring a soupçon. "'tis a strange name for a wine grown on the slopes of Vesuvius, which is as near to hell as any living soul can get."
LEGER-DE-MAIN: An emaciated French thaumaturgist who once invited Fata Morgana to Maxim's for a sumptuous repast of unicorn steak a la truffle, topped with Flim Flam a la maison.
LLD: An honorary degree granted to superstars of the electronic pulpit who collect more than $500,000.00 per annum; for example, Jerry Falwell, Oral Roberts, Pat Robertson, and up until only recently, Jimmy Swaggart. Originally derived from the British currency usage LLd (now, in American $$¢). To encourage silent collection, without the disturbing tinkling of coins, the d is now commonly dropped.
MACKEREL SNAPPER: A pejorative name applied to members of a certain Christian sect (remaining nameless) who formerly were divinely abjured from eating meat (fish and bunnies excluded) on Fridays. That was declared unnecessary as it was discovered that God was only kidding.
MAMMON: The God of the world's leading religion. His chief temples are the towers of Wall Street. - A. Bierce.
MESMERISM: Hypnotism before he wore good clothes, kept a carriage and asked incredulity out to dinner. A. Bierce
METAPHYSICS: A dash of the supernatural added to physics as offered by a guru while contemplating his own navel.
MILLENNIUM: The period of ten centuries after the return of Christ in 1996 when the lid is screwed down with all evangelists on the underside.
MIRACLE: (1.) The extremely rare, but extraordinarily common, practice of suspending physical law, (2.) The bastard child of Faith and Hope which neither parent can afford to acknowledge.
MOONIES: Followers of a latter day messiah, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon of the Unification Church, a late entry into the Religion of the Month Club. Maharishis of this cult skillfully combine the worship of mammon, moolah and mysticism. Moonies are not to be confused with their curry-scented brethren the Hare Krishnas with their saffron robes, thongs, tambourines and Kojak haircuts. Rev. Moon offers the absolute best in false messiah- ship, heresy and counterfeit theology.
MORAL MAJORITY: The John Birch Society wrapped in the flag of the church.
MORALITY: The theory that every human act must be right or wrong. - H.L. Mencken
MORMONISM: The afterclap of Puritanism. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
OCKHAM'S RAZOR: The principle of parsimony or KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) first enunciated in the 13'th century by the Bishop of Ockham who advised: "Non sunt multiplicanda entia praetor necessitatem (Do not multiply entities beyond necessity.) The dictum often lops the heads off of both the arguments and argumenters such as theologians, metaphysicians, and shamen who prefer pronouncements garbed in garbled complexities.
OMEN: A sure sign that something may happen if nothing does.
ORANG-UTAN: By some authorities regarded as an anthropoid ape (_Pongo pygmaeus_) but according to natives of Borneo and Sumatra, the Orang is actually a human who remains speechless to avoid missionaries.
ORTHODOX: A sinful ox, domesticated, imprisoned and enslaved by a religious yoke.
PAPAL BULL: Papal bull.
PARANORMAL: Included under this rubric are: Mesmerism, Clairvoyance, E.S.P., U.F.O.'s, Loch Ness monsters, telepathy, psychokinesis, poltergeists, exorcisms, reincarnation, Bermuda Triangles, biblical prophecies, levitation, horoscopes and Christian Science healings. In other words, nonsense.
PARTHENOGENESIS: Birth from virgin females without fertilization by a male spermatozoa. It occurs commonly in certain insects, crustaceans, annelids, gastropods, and reptiles. In principle, it could happen in mammals and man. By genetic law, the offspring is always female. Jesus, as a male, is an impossibility.
PASSALORYNCHITE: A member of an early Christian sect who took a vow of perpetual silence. Unfortunately, they are now virtually extinct in religious circles, save for a few Trappist Monks. Much to the consternation of secular society, fundamentalists are definitely apassalorynchitic.
PHILOSOPHER: One who learns less and less about more and more until he knows nothing about everything. The opposite is the specialist who learns more and more about less and less until he knows everything about nothing. Both are in contrast to the fundamentalist; who learns less and less about less and less until he has to have someone tell them what to believe.
PIETY: Reverence for the Supreme Being based upon his supposed resemblance to man.
PLAIN: A place in Spain where the rain mainly falls. In England, by contrast, the rain falls everywhere. The rain, it rained on the just/ And on the unjust fella / But mostly on the just because / The unjust hath the just's umbrella.
PRAGMATISM: A philosophy holding that the truth is pre-eminently to be tested by the practical consequences of belief. The art of the possible as compared to religion the belief in the impossible.
PRAYER: A verbal supplication to God soliciting favors since He does not answer letters not appear for photo opportunities. A classic example of God's response occurred in 1887 following a 7.2 earthquake in northern Mexico, just south of the Arizona territory. This event created a fault scarp 50 km long and 3 m high - the greatest quake ever affecting Arizona. The terrified peons of the Pueblo de Bavispe poured into the village church praying for salvation and deliverance. God released another jolt causing the roof to collapse and dispatched the 42 pious peons to the stygian nether world. The moral: Beware of praying in the company of sinners, for "Lo! I am an angry God", Judges 7:13
PREACHER: (1.) A person who thinks twice before saying nothing, (2.) A preying, praying, prying, purveyor of pious, pasteurized platitudes. A pompous panderer of parochial pontifications.
PRIEST: A salaried urban witch doctor.
PRIMATE: (1.) The head of a church. In the Anglican Church (The Church of England) there are two primates - The Archbishop of York, who is the Primate of England, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is the Primate of All England. (2.) Any of an order of higher mammals, including the lemurs, tarsiers, monkeys, gibbons, great apes, and Man and both the archbishops of Canterbury and York; who have in common with the primate, the mandrill, the color purple.
PROPHET: One who navigates the sea of knowledge without the charts of science or the compass of education and ends always by discovering ultimate truths which somehow eluded the wisdom of the ages.
RATIONALIZATION: A method of logic whereby creationists reach conclusions of their choice by mixing perplexity with complexity and sprinkling the spice of conscious mendacity so as to avoid painful revelations.
REACTIONARIES: A group of persons organized to overthrow government, upset the state or destroy the current culture; for example: the Institute for Creation Research.
REALITY: Any of a number of myths shared by a large number of people.
REVELATION: (1.) The final book of the Holy Writ, commonly ascribed to the apostle John, but by others to Baron Munchausen or the brothers Grimm. (2.) A biblical book of riddles which requires for its understanding a revelation. (3.) The last of the canonical books of the Bible, the Apocalypse. The Book of revelations reverberates with retribution, reverie, revival, revocation, revolt, revivification, revulsion and woe. (4.) The last of some 66 books of the Bible in which St. John the Divine concealed all he knew. The prophecies and wisdom of the prophets are divulged in full disagreement.
SABBATH: Sunday, the Holy Day of Rest. Except, if you are a Jew, then it's Saturday. Except if you are a Muslim, then it's Friday.
SACRILEGE: The blind from which fundamentalists can shoot arrows at evolutionists accusing them of blasphemy without fear of reprisal by claiming special privilege.
SCAPEGOAT: In an ancient Jewish ritual, a chief priest on the Day of Atonement who, for a fee of one goat, laid the sins of penitent upon the head of a second goat and dispatched the beast to die in the wilderness (Leviticus 16). An acute shortage of goats ensued so, at the beginning of the Christian Era, Jesus of Nazareth offered himself as a surrogate; or surrogoat. The use of various scapegoats, bearing the real or imagined sins or misdeeds of others has persisted down through the ages. Recently, the Jews themselves were the unwilling scapegoats of Nazi Germany. To spare human suffering, theologians have campaigned for once again using goats, now in plentiful supply, as an addendum to the Geneva Convention.
SCIENTOLOGY: A new "church" founded by L. Ron Hubbard, author of the 1950 book "Dianetics", which explains how to "clear" yourself of "engrams". Successful praxis of this mythical procedure is attested to by the realization of a profit of $350 million without the necessity of Scientology being either a science or an -ology. The term "Dianetics", is a curious former past imperfect form of the geological term "diagenetics". Diagenetics refers to the processes whereby unconsolidated sediments are lithified; i.e., turned into rock. Dianetics, therefore, refers to those processes whereby previously normal gray matter is turned into rock.
SHAMAN: Sham man.
SOTERIOLOGY: (1.) The study of salvation by belief in the legendary Jesus Christ. (2.) The science of hygiene. In both definitions, the solution is to take a bath.
SOUL: A spirit that is claimed to inhabit the more human of human beings of the genus _Homo_. Entirely non- evidenced and vaporously ethereal, it is claimed to be of little utility in this life and of great import in the next.
SUNDAY: The day given over by Americans to wishing that they themselves were dead and in Heaven, and that their neighbors were dead and in hell. - H.L. Mencken
SUNDAY SCHOOL: A prison in which children do penance for the evil conscience of their parents. - H.L. Mencken
TELEOLOGIST: A word juggling mystic who is forever seeing "wisdom" where there is none and who tries to explain the universe in terms of a presiding intelligence; curious due to the practitioners very lack of the same.
TERROR: (1.) Intense, overpowering fear. Anything that instills such fear. (2.) Violence toward private citizens, public property and political enemies promoted by a political group to achieve or maintain supremacy. (3.) An annoying or intolerable pest, a nuisance. Oftimes used in the phrase "a holy terror".
THEOLOGY: Episcopopagy which begins with assumptions and ends in a fog. Theology is classified superstition which belongs in the dustbin with alchemy and astrology. The art of explaining the Unknowable in terms of things not worth knowing to people with a stupendous capacity to believe the incredible and impossible.
THEORY: (1.) In creationist usage, something less than a fact - a mere guess. (2.) In scientific usage, a generally accepted idea supported by a preponderant body of evidence that describes and predicts conditions in the natural world. A theory is a statement which elucidates an underlying pattern of nature, a pattern that makes sense out of a myriad of observations, is logically consistent, and holds true when tested. Theories never become facts, they explain a collection of facts. Example: The Theory of Evolution.
TRINITY: (1.) A bay just south of Corpus Christi, (2.) The Father, Son and Holy Ghost (the Dad, the Kid and the Spook), where three make one, (3.) The most sublime mystery of holy religion. In terming it incomprehensible, one displays an inadequate grasp of theological fundamentals.
WEREWOLF: One of the many disguises of Satan. A werewolf relegated to the plu-perfect subjunctive. Hence, a wolf that once was, used to be, was sometimes, or if not, might be.
WINE: A fermented concoction of the Devil, drunk by Christians during Communion. The beverage of choice in the top three levels of Dante's Hell.
***And here endeth the lesson****