The topics we feature on Friendly Atheist are usually plucked from the headlines. I wouldn’t want it any other way, but the expectation of newsiness does make it dicey, sometimes, to write about something noteworthy that happened decades or centuries ago.
For instance, I have a historically accurate account of a medieval nun who, in the throes of religious passion, believed that she felt Jesus’s foreskin on her tongue, and orgasmed as soon she swallowed said prepuce (which, in her dream, she did over and over again. I think the proper response to that is “I’ll have what she’s having“).
What do I do with a topic like that?
I have another great (true) yarn about a nineteenth-century Italian shoemaker who managed to crucify himself in honor of Jesus, and then suspended himself out a second-story window for the viewing pleasure of passers-by (try it sometime, it’s not as easy as you think!). Wouldn’t you like to hear more about that guy?
Or how about a closer look at the Skoptsy, Russian mystics who used to cut off their genitals and breasts in an effort to get closer to the divine? (No idea why that didn’t catch on, or why they didn’t seem to multiply very successfully.)
To make room on Friendly Atheist for weird and wonderful historical accounts like these, we’re starting a series dubbed “That Old-Time Religion.” New installments will appear frequently but with irregular intervals, always under this banner (to set them apart from our more “newsy” coverage):
Don’t get hung up on the somewhat morbid examples above. Topics will range from ‘mainstream’ religious practices of old, to the downright loopy and bizarre.
I can always use new historic fodder to write about, so if you’d like to send me an editorial tip, thanks in advance, and please e-mail me. The subjects I’ll probably like the most are sorta funny, or sorta horrifying, or both; and the very best ones will have some kind of connection to a current news story, although that’s really not a requirement.
I’ll be kicking off “That Old Time Religion” this weekend. Hope you enjoy!