Writer's Caffe

December 9, 2009

Sacrifice

Filed under: Religion — amerkaj @ 3:12 pm

Sacrifice

Whoops! Maybe you were looking for a priest?

In theology, a sacrifice involves killing an animal or a person, or destroying perfectly good food, as a gift to a deity. The demand of deities for sacrifice is a sort of protection racket.

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History of sacrifice

Sacrifice enters history with the domestication of the cat. Cats treat their human hosts much as humans treat their gods. For much of the time, cats are content to entirely neglect their religious duties, and ignore their gods and their commandments. On the other hand, cats are likely to demand the attention of their human deities at importunate times.

Cats therefore invented sacrifice in order to claim the attention of their gods. Like the sacrifices offered by humans, a sacrifice made by a cat involves killing some small animal or bird, and laying it at the feet of their deity. Cats find that these sacrifices are usually quite effective at attracting the notice of their gods. Anthropologists agree that humans undertook the practice of sacrifice in imitation of their cats, and that the first animal sacrificed was in fact a cat.

The theology of sacrifice

The practice of sacrifice raises obvious theological issues. Theology typically posits either a single, omnipotent god, or a variety of nigh-omnipotent gods. These gods are said to have power to control the weather, turn volcanoes on and off, and destroy the known universe by an offhand remark.

Priests nevertheless claim that these omnipotent beings are moved and impressed by humans who bring them a dead bird or a dead cow as tribute. A number of explanations have been proposed about reasons why:

  • Sacrifice makes a bloody mess in the temple. You’d probably notice it yourself if a similar mess were made in your house.
  • Sacrificial animals were often burnt. The resulting odor is in some versions said to attract gods.
  • The gods aren’t really as strong as the priests suggest. They need to eat too. In this case, perhaps withholding the sacrifice might be a better strategy for dealing with a recalcitrant deity.
  • Animals contain mana that somehow runs them, much as the blue smoke contained in your computer keeps it going. Sacrifice lets the mana out, which enables the gods to somehow use it, much as the gods want the blue smoke inside your computer.
  • The priests themselves eat the sacrificed animals. Ever see a thin priest? I thought as much.
  • Sacrificial animals serve as scapegoats who pay the penalty for sins that otherwise would have to be paid by the human sinner. Again, the gods aren’t all that their public relations makes them out to be; they are in fact inattentive and easily distracted, and it’s all too easy to convince them that it was really the goat that did it.

Choose your victim

Tradition has hallowed the following items as being especially appropriate for sacrifice:

  • Cats
  • Cows
  • Oxen
  • Virgins
  • Queens
  • Pawns
  • Whooping cranes
  • Hoopoes
  • Cigarettes
  • Liquor, especially rum
  • Pottery
  • Money
  • Television sets
  • Mercedes Benz
  • Paris Hilton

It is important to match the correct victim with the reason why the sacrifice is being offered. A goat is especially appropriate to distract the attention of the gods for any sins you have committed; the gods think goats are capable of anything. Virgins are the traditional offering to influence volcanoes and other weather phenomena. God’s girlfriend may be placated with the sacrifice of a Mercedes Benz, but God’s wife demands the sacrifice of a house. Fortunately, Cthulhu is pretty mellow, and will take whatever you are offering.

The following items are less welcomed by the gods, and as such should only be sacrificed to inferior deities whose threats can be dismissed:

  • Sanrio products
  • Used tires
  • Giraffes
  • Lint
  • Old phone books
  • Lead
  • Leftovers
  • Lab rats
  • Beads
  • Pennies – don’t be ridiculous!

Tradition moreover suggests that some element of ritual be a part of your sacrifice, even if it involves only speaking a few words in a foreign language you do not understand. Etruscan is good.

Human sacrifice

Human sacrifice is perennially popular, largely because it allows you to commit murder under the protection of freedom of religion. It was invented by the Druids, who built Stonehenge as a sort of theatre to accommodate the practice; however, it was perfected by the Aztecs who learned about it via the Druid’s influence in Atlantis. Famous human sacrifice victims include:

  • Jesus H. Christ
  • Joan of Arc
  • Bog Man
  • Robin
  • Swamp Thing
  • Jayne Mansfield
  • Romeo
  • Juliet

For more information about how to properly conduct a human sacrifice, consult Michael Moore’s famous documentary on the subject, Fire Monsters Versus the Son of Hercules. Faiths that continue to practice human sacrifice include Wicca, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Spanish Inquisition, Roman Catholicism, and the Wu Tang Clan.

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