Shrine for the repose of the souls of people killed by Toyota cars

Built in 1970 at a cost of $445,000 (which, I'm sure, is a lot more in today's money). It was located in the Japanese mountain resort of Tateshina. I assume it's still there, though I haven't been able to find any recent references to it online.

Murfreesboro Daily News-Journal - Aug 3, 1970

Update: A more recent photo of it, via Tripadvisor. It's called the Tateshinayamashoko-ji Temple.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Aug 15, 2018 - Comments (12)
Category: Death, Religion, 1970s, Cars

The Monk Calf of Freiberg

I don't recall any of this being discussed in October 2017 on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

A misshapen calf, born in Freiberg, Saxony, on 8 December 1522, quickly became important in the German Reformation. It was born with oddly shaped legs (its hind legs straight as a human's) and with a fold of skin over its head shaped like a cowl—hence its comparison to a monk. An illustration made its way to a Prague astrologer, who "discovered that the monster did indeed signify something terrible, indeed the most awful thing possible--Martin Luther."[10] Luther himself responded quickly with a pamphlet containing a mock exegesis of the creature, Monk Calf, in which the "Monk Calf" stands, in all its monstrosity, for the Catholic church.[12] Luther's anti-papist pamphlet appeared together with a tract by Philipp Melanchthon[13] which discussed a fictional monster, the Pope-Ass, a hybrid between a man and a donkey supposedly found near Rome after the 1496 flood.[14] Circulated in 1523, Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon's pamphlet was titled The Meaning of Two Horrific Figures, the Papal Ass at Rome and the Monk Calf Found at Freyberg in Meissen.[15] Luca Cranach the Elder and his workshop provided the illustrations of the Papal Ass and the Monk Calf for the pamphlet. Variations of Luther and Melanchthon’s pamphlet eventually were circulated, including one that depicted the Papal Ass and the Monk Calf in “an encounter between the two creatures. This opening page adds a new phrase to the title of the book: ‘with signs of the Day of Judgement.'"[16]


Posted By: Paul - Tue Jul 31, 2018 - Comments (1)
Category: Anniversary, Religion, Europe, Sixteenth Century, Fictional Monsters

Baby Jesus Doll

A legendary flop in the toy industry. It was brought out in 1958 by the Ideal Toy Company, which was the same company that invented the teddy bear in 1903 and introduced the Rubik's Cube in the 1980s.

The story goes that the company president, Ben Michtom, got the idea for it after visiting the Pope. From the NY Post:

Under the leadership of Morris’ son, Ben, Ideal expanded to produce the Shirley Temple Doll; the first black baby doll; Betsy Wetsy; and one major flop, a baby Jesus doll, which had the Catholic Church’s blessing.

“What a bomb,” exclaimed [Paula] Michtom. “Being Jewish, [the family] didn’t understand that no one was going to buy the toy. No one was going to have their children playing with the Christ child.”

Even the kids in the ad for it look pretty disinterested in the thing.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jul 13, 2018 - Comments (4)
Category: Religion, Toys, 1950s

Follies of the Madmen #373

Somehow, anti-knock engine supplement conflated with performing saintly miracles.

Original ad here.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Jul 07, 2018 - Comments (4)
Category: Business, Advertising, Motor Vehicles, Religion, 1930s

A Thief in the Night

Before there was the LEFT BEHIND series, there was this.

Wikipedia entry here.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Jun 19, 2018 - Comments (0)
Category: Armageddon and Apocalypses, Cult Figures and Artifacts, Ineptness, Crudity, Talentlessness, Kitsch, and Bad Art, Movies, Religion, 1970s

Promoting God via Margarine

Had to be one of the least enthusiastic product endorsements ever.

A country parson is going on British television with a commercial for God and margarine. ..
The Rev. Mr. Stephens said he took the job only on condition he could write his own script. He starts by saying he is not really a margarine man because it reminds him of his years in the army. Then he adds: "However, we ate it. Our system probably needed it. The body needs fat like the soul needs God."
The commercial was filmed in his study.

Rev. Ronald Stephens

Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer - Nov 12, 1970

Posted By: Alex - Mon May 28, 2018 - Comments (2)
Category: Food, Religion, Advertising, 1970s

The Rite of Exorcism

Released in 1974, The Rite of Exorcism was an album performed by three Catholic priests calling themselves the Contemporary Mission. It included a rock-and-roll version of "Dies Irae (Day of Wrath)." The trio described the album as an attempt to communicate with young people in their own media. So, it was part of the ongoing effort to help Catholicism shed its stuffy image.

Except, in this case there's some debate over whether the three really were bonafide Catholic priests. By 1980 they were under investigation for using tax-exempt religious status to run a sketchy mail-order business that sold snake-oil of various kinds such as "a bath oil described as weight-reducing... and a 'Living Cross' that, when coupled with a special prayer, was guaranteed to change your life 'in just five days.'"

More info: WFMU (which has the whole album available as a free download),,

Posted By: Alex - Fri May 11, 2018 - Comments (1)
Category: Music, Religion, 1970s

Procession of the Holy Carpet

A vanished, rather homely and charming rite of the Islamic religion.

Full essay here.

At the beginning of the century, there were several types of popular ceremonies in Egypt that have disappeared or faded with time. One such ceremony is the procession of “El Mahmal” or “The Holy Carpet.”

The yearly celebration involved the Egyptian government manufacturing a new cover for the Holy Kaaba and offering it to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. After the cover is prepared in the factory, a large ceremony takes place in Cairo, where a parade organised by the Egyptian army tours the different districts of the city.

The parade included a caravan of decorated camels carrying the Holy Carpet, as well as many other gifts. After the caravan ends its tour in Cairo, it starts its long trip, guarded by the Egyptian army, across the eastern desert, then on to the Suez Canal and Sinai till it reaches Palestine.

From Palestine, it goes directly to Saudi Arabia, crossing its northern borders to the heart of Hijaz, then to Mecca. Normally it reached Mecca before the pilgrimage season, where another ceremony takes place that ends with the covering of the Kaaba with the Holy Carpet.

Posted By: Paul - Sun May 06, 2018 - Comments (0)
Category: Religion, Interior Decorating, Middle East, Twentieth Century

Saint Mary of the Highways

‘Saint Mary of the Highways’ I & II are names of two trailer chapels operated by the Catholic Diocese of Richmond. Designed by George F. Chaplain, one was built in 1938 and the second in 1948. They were dedicated by Bishop Ireton. Purchased by the donations of the people at the cost of $10,000 each, they contain church equipment, public address system and living accommodations for two priests. During the summer, programs of Scripture, music, prayer, question answering, sermons, movies and literature are presented daily. You are invited to visit the Chapel on the road, or at our home in Richmond.

Postcard source.

Posted By: Paul - Thu Apr 26, 2018 - Comments (1)
Category: Motor Vehicles, Religion, 1930s, 1940s

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Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.

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