A Dummy Goes to Africa

Unfortunately, the book is not digitized, and original copies go for big bucks. But you can see more pics and read an account of the tale at the link.

Posted By: Paul - Wed Jul 21, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Puppets and Automatons, Religion, Books, 1960s, Africa

The Resurrection of Gladys Rogers

When 80-year-old Gladys Rogers died of flu in 1978, her evangelist son decided that he would freeze her body and then bring her back to life with prayer. Her resurrection, he believed, would turn people to Christianity. She lay in an upright freezer as he prayed.

St. Joseph Gazette - Mar 13, 1978

He prayed for two months before conceding that he had failed. He attributed his failure to a lack of faith. "It had nothing to do with the power of the Lord," he said. "The main thing was I can't bring mama back, but I'll meet her again in Heaven."

More info: Springfield News-Leader

Miami Herald - Apr 1, 1978

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jul 09, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: Death, Religion, 1970s

Self-castration in early Christianity

Some ancient weirdness: The First Council of Nicaea, in 325 AD, was a meeting of Christian bishops in which they tried to establish the rules and doctrines that all Christians were supposed to follow. Wikipedia says:

Its main accomplishments were settlement of the Christological issue of the divine nature of God the Son and his relationship to God the Father, the construction of the first part of the Nicene Creed, mandating uniform observance of the date of Easter, and promulgation of early canon law.

However, one of the lesser-known rules that the bishops enacted at the Council was to ban men who had castrated themselves from being in the clergy. Because, apparently, self-castration had become something of a fad among early Christians. Enough so that the bishops felt the need to put an official stop to the practice.

The historian Daniel Caner has examined this issue in his 1997 article "The practice and prohibition of self-castration in early Christianity".

Caner notes that the fad had its origin in a passage from the New Testament, Matthew 19:12, in which Jesus appears to endorse the practice of self-castration. As the passage reads in the King James translation:

For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb; and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men; and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

Most interpreters of the Bible, ancient and modern, argue that when Jesus used the word 'eunuch' he meant it as a synonym for 'celibacy'. Apparently this was a common use of the term 'eunuch' in the ancient world.

Nevertheless, he used the term eunuch. So some early Christians decided the passage should be taken literally. In which case, Jesus seemed to be saying that, while self-castration was not appropriate for all men, for an elite few it was an ideal to strive for. Inspired by this passage, a number of men "took the sickle and cut off [their] private parts."

The most prominent Church father who was said to have castrated himself was Origen of Alexandria (c. 185 - c. 253). But Caner notes that there was an entire sect of early Christians, the Valesians, who embraced the practice. Wikipedia says that, in addition to castrating themselves, "They were notorious for forcibly castrating travelers whom they encountered and guests who visited them."

According to Caner, the more widely adopted Christianity became in the Roman empire, the more the Church tried to present itself as the upholder of mainstream values, and self-castration really didn't fit into that image. Therefore, "Radical manifestations of an ideal de-sexualization... became a 'heretical' threat to the orthodox community."

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jul 02, 2021 - Comments (5)
Category: Body Modifications, Fads, Religion, Ancient Times, Genitals

Banana Ganesh

Read all about it here.

Posted By: Paul - Mon May 24, 2021 - Comments (3)
Category: Animals, Art, Statues and Monuments, Food, Religion, Bananas

The Sacred Chickens of Rome

Strange custom: The ancient Romans were reportedly loath to embark on any major undertaking, particularly battles, before they had consulted sacred chickens. As told by

The pullarius [keeper of the sacred chickens] was responsible for keeping sacred chickens and using them to make divinations or "predictions." These holy birds, which had been sourced from the island of Negreponte (now Euboea, near Athens), were kept unfed in their cages for a predetermined amount of time before being released and presented with some grain. If they ate the grain, the venture upon which the Romans were consulting them was deemed favourable. If they didn't touch it, however, the venture lacked the god's backing and was therefore to be abandoned.

Publius Claudius Pulcher And The Sacred Chickens

However, the advice of the sacred chickens wasn't always followed. As told by the Anecdotes from Antiquity blog:

During the First Punic War, Publius Claudius Pulcher turned to the sacred chickens for approval of his plan to launch a surprise attack on the Carthaginian fleet at the harbour of Drepana. When the chicken watcher notified Pulcher that they were not eating, which constituted a bad omen, he replied, ‘Since they do not want to eat, let them drink!’ and had them hurled into the sea. The naval battle which ensued saw the near annihilation of the Roman fleet.

Posted By: Alex - Wed May 05, 2021 - Comments (4)
Category: Animals, Customs, Religion

Dannie Druehyld, Only Official Witch of Denmark, Has Passed

Some interesting videos, not in English, at the obituary.

Dannie Druehyld knew every single plant and stone in Rold Skov, after calling the forest [her] home for more than 30 years. Now Denmark has lost its only officially registered witch. Dannie Druehyld died on Monday, aged 74. She leaves behind a daughter and a granddaughter.

According to Dannie Druehyld, she was a witch before she was born, and in Rold Skov she has over the years taught children and adults about the forest's magic, folk beliefs and ancient wisdom through her workshop in the Rebild Center. She has also published several books, including "The Witch's Handbook", which tells about witch life all year round.

Posted By: Paul - Wed May 05, 2021 - Comments (0)
Category: Eccentrics, New Age, Religion, Rituals and Superstitions, Supernatural, Occult, Paranormal, Europe

Marilyke Fashion

In 1953, Reverend Bernard Kunkel of Bartelso, Illinois launched the Marilyke fashion movement. Dresses that were sufficiently modest, like the Virgin Mary would have worn (i.e. 'Marilyke'), were given a seal of approval in the form of a Marilyke tag they could display. The tags were "there to guide the Catholic girls."

It seems that only wedding dresses and formal gowns were tagged. As Kunkel noted, "There's not much to be done about bathing suits... We strongly disapprove of the trend in modern bathing suits."

More info: Aliens in this world

source: University of Dayton

Detroit Free Press - June 13, 1955

Posted By: Alex - Fri Apr 09, 2021 - Comments (3)
Category: Fashion, Religion, 1950s

Bock Beer Ads

The fact that Bock Beer allowed in the German language for a pun with "goat" (bock) meant that the drink had a handy visual icon as symbol. But since goats had an alliance with Pan and Satan, many of these ads seem in my eyes to have lewd and devilish connotations. Also fitting for drunkenness, I guess.

See more ads here.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Apr 02, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Gods, Religion, Advertising, Europe, Nineteenth Century, Alcohol

The Wicked Bible

An edition of the Bible printed in 1631 came to be known as the 'Wicked Bible' because it omitted one, important word — the word 'not' from the seventh commandment. This made the commandment read, 'Thou shalt commit adultery'. More details from The Guardian:

One thousand copies of the text, which also came to be known as the Adulterous or Sinners’ Bible, were printed, with the printing error only discovered a year later. When it was uncovered, the printers Robert Barker and Martin Lucas were summoned by order of Charles I to court, and found guilty. They were also fined £300, and their printing licence removed, with the entire print run of the offending text called in, and the majority destroyed.

There's still debate about whether the omission was accidental, purposeful, or sabotage.

Only ten copies of the Wicked Bible are known to exist today. The current going price for one is around $100,000.

More info: wikipedia

Posted By: Alex - Sat Mar 13, 2021 - Comments (10)
Category: Religion, Books, Seventeenth Century

How big is heaven?

A strange Christian controversy from the 1920s: how big exactly is Heaven?

A Presbyterian minister recently preached on heaven, in which he displayed an astonishing amount of information about the place. He stated that, after much research and study, he was convinced heaven was to be established here after the present world and heavens had been destroyed. He further stated that heaven would cover over 1,150,000 square miles, that it would be 10 times as big as Germany, 10 times as big as France and 10 times as big as England, that on the basis of the number of people to the square mile in the city of London the population would be 100,000,000,000—70 times the present population of the globe.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Aug 8, 1927

Posted By: Alex - Thu Mar 04, 2021 - Comments (4)
Category: Religion, 1920s

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

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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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