I had lunch today with my two best friends. They are both Christian. I am not.
I don’t doubt the boy has affection for the python but my guess is that the snake views the boy as a fresh snack in case they stop feeding it chicken.
In any case, this poor Cambodian family now has the burden of feeding a 220 pound carnivore. It is hard on them but as they believe the snake “possesses a magical spirit” – or may in fact be some kind of deity – they do it gladly.
At this point in the story, M suggested that the family should consider eating the snake instead of feeding it.
“But he’s a deity! How could they do that? It would be like you guys eating Jesus.”
“Oh… I guess you do that too.”
M laughed but S, who is rather more orthodox, immediately gave me a look like my very presence was risking her a life in hell.
“You better not say stuff like that! You’re already on thin ice. You better repent!”
She said it half jokingly. I think she just wanted to be on the record. In that way, she would be able to say that she had admonished me if questioned about it at the pearly gates.
“Anyway I’m Methodist. We don’t believe we’re actually eating the body of Christ. It’s just symbolic. It’s the Catholics that really believe it’s his body.”
M, a former Catholic now Methodist, still had a soft spot for the old religion.
“But at least the Catholics get real wine. We just get Ribena.”
S: “Actually only the Catholic priests get the wine. With the Anglicans, EVERYBODY gets wine.”
M: “I think the Catholics can take some from the cup if they want. Or they can dip.”
Me: “Huh?! You can dip the body of Christ?! There’s no double dipping I hope.”
S: “No! No double dipping allowed. But I think they share the cup. You sip then wipe it off and pass it along.”
Me: “Yuck! I thought they stopped that when SARS hit.”
S: “They started again. At least we Methodists each get our own little cup. Even if it’s only Ribena. It’s more hygienic.”
M chimed in again with one last comment.
“The one thing I wish was…”
“About the wafers…”
“You mean the body of Christ?”
“Yes. I wish they could keep it more crisp. I hate it when it gets soggy.”
S seemed to contemplate whether this statement in itself was a potential sin.
S: “It doesn’t matter whether it’s crispy or not! In any case you are just supposed to put it on your tongue and it melts.”
M: “I like to chew.”
S: “You can’t chew! What if it gets caught in your teeth?”
This did seems like a dilemma. What would it mean to go around all day long with the body of Christ stuck in your teeth?
M: “Well that’s what the blood of Christ is for. To wash it down.”
And that, my friends, concludes my lunchtime religious education.