Saturday, March 12, 2011

Jesus Eating Coefficients

For some time, Richard Herring has been touring a show called Christ On A Bike, in which he explores his own attitude to religion, and also wonders, if transubstantiation actually occurs, how many times a person would have to take communion before they'd eaten the equivalent of an entire Jesus.

Because Richard Herring has thousands of followers on Twitter and many more readers of his website than I do, it wasn't long before somebody did the mathematics and told him it would be around 400 years of communion wafers, and 333 years of wine drinking.

I mentioned this to my friends as we were eating burritos (and if you think eating Christ is an unsuitable conversation for the dinner table, then you should also ponder the cultural appropriateness of eating Mexican food in Hong Kong). My companions were sceptical of the assumptions involved in the calculations, and told me that there were some pretty big leaps involved, not least that the weight of the bread assumed a conventional loaf (not denser unleavened bread).

Now the internet is a wonderful thing, enabling me to irritate people I've never met who are fanatical about The Wire, and it also makes people much closer. Sometimes.

Email is impersonal, hard to convey subtext and nuance, and simplifies the sending of letters that previously had to be scrawled in green biro on lined paper, the wrong way round.

But it also allows you to write things to your teenage heroes, like this:
Some controversy here in the Hong Kong religious/statistical community here over your calculations.

First off, the communion wafers are from unleavened bread, which will be denser than the average loaf. That means the average per person should be more than 2 ounces, but then I don't think it makes sense to divide the loaf weight by the number of communicants. What's more likely is that there's a standardised amount per person, and the priest scoffs all the left overs. So to eat Jesus quicker, you just need to put on an episcopal frock and nip to the vestry.

I guess I'm trying to say your previous correspondent has unfairly assumed inverse linearity between number of attendees and size of portion. We should take some scales to a service and weigh the wafer.

Secondly, coming from a CofE background, where it's hard for the people holding the wine to wrest it from your grasp, I'd try to guzzle the wine and take as long as possible on it, increasing my average wine consumption. Of course, if you do this too often in one church they'll get wise to it, but by rotating services though different churches, your average weekly wine volume should be a lot higher.
I hoped I might get a mention, but to my surprise the whole thing was reproduced verbatim on Richard Herring's blog, which is, I suppose, some slight brush with fame.

He did spell my name wrong, which takes off a little of the shine, but it's not as bad as when HK magazine misprinted my letter about the correct usage of "fucking". Or perhaps he's helping me preserve my anonymity.


Minnie Bus said...

Just making sure I got this right. You wrote a blog post about a blog post that had featured your letter that was about another blog post. Right?

Help, my internet's in a tangle again!

Mr Cushtie said...

If I didn't know better, I'd think you were suggesting that the internet largely consisting of onanistic bloggers in a high-tech echo chamber, failing to add to the sum of human knowledge. Imagine how unlikely such a situation would be :)

Post a Comment