April 19, 1981: Fundamentalist minister Vernon Cayten burned a 5-foot stuffed Easter bunny on the front lawn of his church, declaring it was a pagan idol. He also denounced all those who celebrated Easter with Easter Bunnies as "heathens and dummies who worshiped pagan gods."
Musician Scott Ryan has since written a song about "Burnin' Vernon." Video below. Lyrics here.
The Pretzels for God movement was founded by Marlene McCauley of Phoenix, Arizona in 1973 after she became inspired to restore the pretzel to what she felt was its rightful place in Christian worship.
Apparently Christians invented pretzels back in the fifth century to eat during Lent since the pretzels contained only water, flour, and salt, but no eggs or milk which were forbidden during the observance. The shape of the pretzel symbolized arms crossed in prayer.
However, in modern times this religious origin has been largely forgotten as pretzels have become a bar and snack food. McCauley was determined to right this wrong. Specifically, she hoped to encourage Christians to eat pretzels during Lent and also to recite before each meal the "pretzel prayer":
"Grant us, we pray, that we too may be reminded by the daily sight of these pretzels to observe the holy season of Lent with true devotion and great spiritual fruit."
In 1994, Jeff Goldstein, who described himself as a “semi-active pagan-Jewish minister,” got into trouble with the city of Madison, Wisconsin because he refused to mow his lawn. He claimed that to do so would violate his religious beliefs since he worshipped plants. He said he actually prayed to his lawn, and that to mow it would be a “holocaust against the green creatures.”
Goldstein explained that he had formed his beliefs after reading The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tomkins and Christopher Bird. I’ve read that book. If you like strange science, it’s a good read, full of plant-science weirdness. Though I didn't come away from it believing plants are sacred.
The court didn't buy Goldstein's argument, but I don't know if he ever ended up mowing the lawn.
New from Ave Maria Press comes the Catholic Hipster Handbook. According to the publisher's blurb, the book is about "yearning to learn more about the faith by seeking out 'Catholic cool'—overlooked saints, forgotten prayers and feast days, and traditional practices long set aside by mainstream believers."
The book sounds interesting. But it reminded me that four years ago I posted about a Catholic ad campaign to promote Jesus as "the original hipster."
So I detect a weird recurring theme: catholics trying to rebrand themselves as hipsters.
"Sai Baba's materialisations of vibhuti (holy ash) and other small objects such as rings, necklaces, and watches, along with reports of miraculous healings, resurrections, clairvoyance, bilocation, and alleged omnipotence and omniscience, were a source of both fame and controversy."
Books Selected and endorsed for Pure Weirdness by Your WU Team
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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.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
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