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I'd say that most people engage in some sort of magical thinking that's comparable to this when they attach meaning to objects of their loved ones and idols, like locks of hair, pieces of clothing, or even perfume. It feels like you have a part of that person, and there's the illusion of physical proximity. I think this is basically what's going on here.

But I agree with you wholeheartedly, Greta, on two points. First, while I don't think that's the case with this cologne, the Catholic Church does have relics, bones, hair, or objects that belonged to saints and are said to have magical properties, so I think your criticism, in general, absolutely holds. Second, it's definitely creepy as all hell, and I hope even the religious agree about that.


I'm a Catholic heretic. Right, that's out of the way.

I totally agree with your position on this ... marketing schtick. As a self-respecting theist, I find the notion of this potion insulting, not to mention the whole anointing thing being gross, disgusting, without any theological merit, and really rather horrific.


Ysabet - I think you missed the point. I could be wrong, but yeah.

Greta- FUCK YEAH. (I was searching for a better, more eloquent way of saying that... but I haven't had enough coffee yet today and I fully agree with you, so yeah. You get a "fuck yeah". In caps. Oh yeah.)

Jason Failes

"So the next time I hear someone make the "you just don't understand modern theology" argument, I can throw it in their face."

The spray or the bottle itself?

At least if it's the spray, it will do less harm than throwing a fossilized femur at them.

Greta Christina
The spray or the bottle itself?

The spray. Even my most obnoxious fantasies don't involve throwing glass bottles at modern theologians.

Leigh Shryock

This is also too excessively creepy and sad for me to laugh. I want to, I really do, but it's too much.

Leigh Shryock

Addendum: As for 'magical thinking' (i.e. the person mentioning that 'we all do it' with items from loved ones), I know that I will sometimes have an item of a loved one who has passed away, and I will associate memories with the item, in my mind... so seeing or holding it is useful to bring the memories up (for purposes of reminding myself - allowing me to remember the person). Sure, in a way, I do associate the person as the item, but more importantly, I associate the memories of that person with the item.


Wow, you are in a cranky mood today. Hit the nail on the head as usual, though.


jeremy, I think the more elequant way to say FUCK YEAH would be:

Golly fuck, Ms. Greta, you sure said it!

Greta Christina

Caio and Leigh: You have a point about magical thinking and the human tendency to imbue objects with great symbolic meaning, especially at times of stress. None of us is immune to that, and I wouldn't want us to be. But the thing I think we have to remember is:

It's not like her husband bought her this cologne. It's not like a wedding ring or a photo, a gift he gave her or a memento of a happy time together. What made it special didn't have anything at all to do with her husband. What made it special was that it was Eau de Pope. Ew.

Leigh Shryock

True. Also, the obsessiveness she had about it is rather disturbing... She seemed to be rather obsessed with it, and for no particular good reason.


And now let us pray, according to the Word of St. Carlin...

"What's the use of being God if any rundown schmuck with a 2-dollar prayer book can come along and fuck up your Plan?"

Chris Davis

You don't get to be religious without loose elastic in your disbelief suspenders. Theologians - who tend to be an angstrom less thick than yer average Jeezers Sheep - have a problem here: on the one hand they usually joined the cult because they want to lap up the same big daddy/forgiveness/purpose/plan magic Kool-Aid as their hard-of-thinking brethren; on the other, they're occasionally called upon to justify their silly beliefs (even if only to themselves).

So they seem to develop a sliding scale of things they believe in, to match the circumstances. When pressed, they may retreat back to a deist position, and argue intellectually for a God of the Gaps, pooh-poohing the risible notions of lumpen churchgoers. But ten minutes later you'll find 'em on their knees pleading for forgiveness for having had one off the wrist when no-one (else) was looking, begging for Heaven, and terrified of Hell.

Ultimately, if a religoid tells you he doesn't believe in something, it's probably true at that moment.


Raging Bee

Wait a minute, this cologne is from a Pope in the EIGHTEENTH CENTURY?! Do you have any idea how much the Church's official doctrine has changed since then? Surely that cologne would have lost its redemptive power the minute its namesake ceased to represent the Church.

These people gotta get caught up here. They need to start using Benedict XVI cologne -- which would most likely be made by Prada.


First time reading your blog, I really liked your cranky pants observations. I come across magical thinking in Christians far more often than I come across detailed theological arguments.

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