The background facts are these: Swine flu is
- A pandemic
- But not as generally lethal as the first few cases were
- An infectious disease
- Not something most people want to catch
The archbishops of Canterbury and York say that the practice of sharing a common chalice during communion should be replaced by dipping the bread in wine - along with some common-sense hygiene practices. (CNN)
The headline, "Poisoned chalice? Swine flu hits church wine" is an attention-grabber, and someone with a good imagination could come up with quite a number of stories. It helps, if you don't read, or studiously ignore, what's in the article itself.
So What?This is a little off-topic, since the Church of England is the outfit that Henry VIII set up when he decided to be a sort of mini-pope. I can see his point: Henry VIII was facing an awkward political situation, and the Church rules about marriage weren't making his life any easier.
Now, a few centuries later, the Church of England is the second-largest group of Christians, after the Catholic Church. So, what happens with the Church of England may affect Christians in general, just because it's such a large and visible group.
Headlineitis and FactsAlthough I acknowledge that it's important to get the reader's attention with a headline, I don't appreciate the rather imaginative nature of what will probably be the most-read part of this article.
The article isn't about a poisoned chalice, or a plot to poison a chalice, or the possibility that a chalice has been, is, or will be poisoned. It's about the possibility that a disease - swine flu - may be transmitted on a shared communion chalice: and common-sense steps that Church of England officials are taking to prevent that.
As for "Swine flu hits church wine" - that's simply misleading. The article is quite clear about the concerns for disease transmission focusing on, and being limited to, the chalice.
Wait For it - 'Evil White Scientists Poison Church Wine to Kill Africans'?!No, I really DON'T think so. But, between the article's headline, some existing conspiracy theories, and the following sentence from the article, I think someone might come up with a weird story like that.
"...The archbishops note that this practice is widely observed in Anglican churches throughout Africa...."If I let my imagination go, I'm pretty sure I could work in Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, JFK, and space aliens for a more detailed, mildly entertaining, and utterly fictitious narrative. But, I've got other tasks pending this afternoon.
Besides, the main reason for this post is to
- Bring an interesting bit of common-sense review of procedure in a Christian church to your attention
- State the obvious: It's a good idea to read past the headline
- "Swine Flu and 'Flurry of Alarmism' - or a Rational Response"
(April 30, 2009)
- "Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and Swine Flu"
(April 30, 2009)
- "United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Swine Flu"
(April 29, 2009)
- "The Pope, Angola, and the News: No Wonder 'Everybody Knows' What Those Catholics Are Like"
(March 22, 2009)
- "Catholic Beliefs and Practices: Don't Believe Everything You Read"
(September 16, 2008)
- "Swine Flu 2009"
Apathetic Lemming of the North
- Link page for resources and posts about Swine flu, (updated July 20, 2009)
- "Poisoned chalice? Swine flu hits church wine"
CNN (July 23, 2009)