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Could Clinton actually be a cannibal, too?

This page was last modified on 1 July 2012.

Contents


Published 13 April 1998 in the News & Record (Greensboro, NC)

Could Clinton actually be a cannibal, too?

I have a problem with President Clinton's recent trip to Africa.

As a Republican who was raised blue-collar, union, and Southern (Do I have to say Democrat?), I'm not surprised that the president would make politically motivated blanket apologies for historical transgressions for which no one living is responsible. I'm not perturbed that while he was apologizing for our ancestors' wrongdoing that he didn't call on his African hosts to apologize for their ancestors' complicity in the slave trade as well.

As an atheist who was raised as a Protestant, I'm not upset that the president took Holy Communion while in South Africa, or that he, as a Southern Baptist, did so inappropriately in a Catholic church, or even that he, as a political partisan, did so as a shameless photo op.

The problem I have with the president's participation in this sacrament involves the Catholic dogma of transubstantiation. By this doctrine, the bread and wine retain their appearance but miraculously become the actual body and blood of Christ upon their consecration. Persons who participate in the Catholic Eucharist do so believing that they are eating real human flesh and drinking real human blood.

As if being an inveterate liar, an unapologetic draft dodger, and a self-confessed adulterer weren't bad enough, I am absolutely horrified to learn that Bill Clinton is also a cannibal.

James M. Wallace
Greensboro

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Original unedited Letter to the Editor as submitted to the News & Record (Greensboro, NC)

To the Editor:

I have a problem with President Clinton's recent trip to Africa.

As a Republican who was raised blue-collar, union, and Southern (Do I have to say Democrat?), I'm not particularly surprised that the President would make politically motivated blanket apologies for historical transgressions for which no one living is responsible. I'm not particularly perturbed that while he was apologizing for our ancestors' wrongdoing that he didn't call on his African hosts to apologize for their ancestors' complicity in the slave trade as well.

As an atheist who was raised as a Protestant, I'm not particularly upset that the President, as a nominal Christian, took Holy Communion while in South Africa, or that he, as a Southern Baptist, did so inappropriately in a Catholic church, or even that he, as a political partisan, did so as a shameless photo op.

The problem I have with the President's participation in this Sacrament involves the Catholic dogma of transubstantiation. By this doctrine, the bread and wine retain their appearance but miraculously become the actual body and blood of Christ upon their consecration. Persons who participate in the Catholic Eucharist do so believing that they are eating real human flesh and drinking real human blood.

As if being an inveterate liar, an unapologetic draft dodger, and a self-confessed adulterer weren't bad enough, I am absolutely horrified to learn that Bill Clinton is also a cannibal!

James M. Wallace

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Letter Background

By the second week of April 1998, over two months had passed since I had submitted a letter to the editor. Selecting a subject was somewhat problematic as the period offered a target-rich environment. Given the proximity to the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination and James Earl Ray's decline into death, I had considered writing a serious letter about the tragic irony of the King family being duped by Ray. Also I was considering writing about Bill Clinton's Africa trip in late March, but there was so much to work with that I was having difficulty narrowing it to a topic that could be covered within the 250-word maximum limit. I stumbled onto a solution when I focused on the controversy over Clinton's participation in the Catholic Eucharist. The Catholic dogma of transubstantiation provided an ample weapon with which to whack ol' Bubba. I couldn't resist as the letter practically wrote itself. Are we having fun yet?

I've been open about my atheism from the beginning, and I readily express my heterodox views of religion. Even so, I always attempt to avoid being a raving, foaming at the mouth, radical atheist la Madalyn Murray O'Hair. Religion is a most sensitive subject and is not readily dissoluble, so I attempt to disagree without being disagreeable. I find it more useful and salutary to agree to disagree. But then, "Holy Week" tends to bring out the worst in me. During this period, Christianity descends into the abyss of its ultimate perversity and obscenity. I refuse to accept a human sacrifice, the sacrifice of an innocent man for the purported evil of others, as the greatest event in all of human history. I will not accept abject lies as ultimate truth. I knew that my brutally honest and wholly accurate characterization of communion as cannibalism (symbolic or actual, ritual or otherwise) would be offensive to believers, but then I really gave a damn. TAKE THAT YOU PAPIST BASTARDS! Uh, sorry.

When Becky Layton of the News & Record's editorial page called to confirm that I had indeed written the letter submitted in my name and said that they intended to publish it, I commented, "That ought to make a lot of people happy."

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Messages left on my answering machine

Of all the letters I've submitted to the News & Record, this was easily the most controversial up to the time of its publication. As I am listed in the directory, I expected to get calls from people reacting to my letter. I consider answering machines to be annoying necessities, so I attempt to ameliorate this by always adding a little humor to the announcement on my machine. My callers had the pleasure of the following while awaiting the opportunity to give me their opinions:

You have reached the telephone answering machine of James Matthew Wallace which means he's either not in to receive your call or he's standing here monitoring your call! Either way you have to deal with this infernal machine, so please leave your name, number, and message at the beep. I call you back as soon as I can. Thank you.

From experience (monitoring my calls of course!), I know that many people simply haven't the patience to wait through my announcement. I have no idea how many calls weren't completed, but the following individuals had the perseverance to put my machine to use.

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Jack Hedgecock, who could be my biggest fan having called me previously praising "Doonesbury, hate radio and hate cartoons" (30 December 1997), called on 13 April 1998, 9:49 a.m.:

James, this is Jack Hedgecock, [phone number omitted]. Had another good letter to the paper, and I enjoyed reading it. Give me a call if you have time. Have a good day. Bye, bye.

The Compleat Heretic responds:

Thank you, Mr. Hedgecock. I'm glad you enjoyed yet another of my letters. I'll try to keep up the good work.

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Jeff Rogers, obviously very amused, called on 13 April 1998, 1:57 p.m.:

James, I saw your article in the paper today. Kudos, kudos, [laughing] kudos! I guess you're not a real popular guy attacking this wonderful person we have as the President, but a well-thought, [laughing] well-wrought article. And my name is Jeff Rogers. A very good article, sir. Bye.

The Compleat Heretic responds:

Thank you, Mr. Rogers. I'm most pleased that you obviously enjoyed it so much.

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Anonymous, though not at all forthcoming with his identity, was very persistent in trying to give me his two cents' worth (Inflation, you know.) having called me at least three times on 13 April 1998 with the first message at 4:16 p.m.:

[Shouting] James! Are you there? [LONG PAUSE] [Disappointedly] You mustn't be there.

Anonymous, second message, 13 April 1998, 7:50 p.m.:

[Shouting] James! Pick up!

Anonymous, third message, 13 April 1998, 7:57 p.m.:

[Shouting] James Matthew, are you there? [PAUSE] [Sarcastically] You must be getting an awful lot of phone calls on that silly letter that you wrote today. But you've gotta have the courage of your commitments... and your convictions. [Mockingly] Why don't you answer the phone? Maybe you left town.

The Compleat Heretic responds:

Why, yes, I am getting far more calls than I've ever gotten concerning one of my letters, but then half of them are from your silly anonymous ass! I'm so very sorry that I wasn't in when you called, but I have more important things to do than sit by the phone waiting for some moron to call concerning one of my letters. Instead of calling me, perhaps you should write your own letter, assuming that you're literate of course.

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Though it simply may have been a random crank call, this message's proximity to the publication of my letter suggests that it was meant as harassment in retaliation for the letter. "Phone Sex Girl" apparently got off on my letter on 14 April 1998, 4:07 p.m.:

[LONG PAUSE] Hey, yeah baby! I wanna rock your world! [Moaning] This is Cynthia. I'm gonna get it up, get it off, and get it on with you. All you gotta do is come to my house, and I'll fuck you. I'm so, so wet and hot! And I am so tight that it'll feel good every stroke you make. Ooh, I can feel it now! Mmm! Ohh! OOHH! I gotta go. I'm having an orgy! [Giggling like a silly little bitch as she hangs up]

The Compleat Heretic responds:

Uh, was it good for you?

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Counter-Letters to the Editor

As I was writing this letter, I figured that it would offend Catholics in particular and Christians in general. The honest and rational evaluation of religious tenets always offends the "faithful." As you can see below, I was not dissappointed.

I also thought that it would offend die-hard Clintonistas, but the News & Record apparently got no letters from them in defense of their guy. I was somewhat disappointed at first but thought better of the situation as I considered it further. By my reckoning, the reticence of his supporters bodes ill for ol' Slick Willie.

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Letter to the Editor published 17 April 1998 in the News & Record (Greensboro, NC), copyright 1998 by News & Record

Cannibalism is hardly a Christian tradition

James M. Wallace's anti-Christian letter of April 13 accuses Catholics of cannibalism in receiving the Eucharist. There is a long history of atheists making this charge against Christians, and we might give them a little leeway since Jesus is so graphic in his teaching in John 6. Nevertheless, it is a canard.

Cannibalism is eating dead human flesh. Participating in Holy Communion involves receiving not a dead man, but the living, resurrected Lord in glory, whole and entire, body, blood, soul and divinity. Jesus' real presence under the appearances of bread and wine is unique and not comparable to other ways of "being present."

Chew on this: the cannibal assimilates the flesh of his neighbor; the Eucharist we receive assimilates us.

Jim McCullough
Greensboro

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The Compleat Heretic responds:

Mr. McCullough, my letter was actually anti-Clinton though I admittedly used an anti-Catholic, "anti-Christian" critique as my primary weapon. The freethought characterization of Christian communion as "ritual cannibalism" is not false, unfounded, or fabricated as you suggest. It is based on the open, honest, rational, and critical evaluation of Christian teaching and practice.

Your definition is misleadingly limited; cannibalism is simply the eating of the flesh of one's own species. In humans, cannibalism is usually a ritualistic practice with the intent of taking within oneself the "essence" of the consumed. Christians participate in communion in order to take into themselves the "divinity" and "perfection" of Jesus Christ who was "spirit become flesh, God become man." The ritualistic goal of Christian communion is to unite believers with their God, their church, and themselves as a community. The reference to the Eucharistic elements as "the body and blood of Christ" undeniably reveals that Christian communion is symbolic ritual cannibalism.

When Protestants take communion, they pretend that the Eucharistic elements are the body and blood of Christ; the cracker or wafer and the grape juice or wine are merely symbolic representations. For Protestants, communion is symbolic ritual cannibalism. According to the "infallible teaching" of the Catholic Church, "in the Eucharist the Body and Blood of the God-man are truly, really, and substantially present for the nourishment of our souls, by reason of the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ." (from Eucharist in The Catholic Encyclopedia, emphasis in the original) Regardless of the purpose, persons who participate in the Catholic Eucharist do so believing that they are eating real human flesh and drinking real human blood. For Catholics, communion is actual ritual cannibalism.

Ruminate on this: you have every right to believe whatever you are willing to accept as a tenet of your faith but don't expect me to share your self-deception and depravity.

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Letter to the Editor published 18 April 1998 in the News & Record (Greensboro, NC), copyright 1998 by News & Record

Participation in Eucharist is not cannibalism

While letter writer James M. Wallace obviously knows a rogue and a scoundrel when he sees one, he needs to limit his opinions to topics that he knows something about. He may well be correct in his assessment of President Clinton's moral character. His statement that participation in the Holy Eucharist is cannibalism is silly.

A cannibal is a human being who eats human flesh. Believing Catholics who receive the elements of the sacrament of Holy Communion partake of the body and blood and the soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, fully human and fully divine. They are not eating human flesh. It is foolish to accuse them of cannibalism.

I can appreciate that atheists cannot handle mysteries. That is why Wallace should have kept his adolescent mockery of the chief mystery of the Christian faith to himself.

James W. Lung
Greensboro

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The Compleat Heretic responds:

Mr. Lung, apparently we would agree that Bill Clinton is a disgusting and depraved moral degenerate. We may even agree that he is also a thoroughly despicable, and even evil, human being. Perhaps there are other matters on which we would agree, but the nature of the Eucharist is not one of them.

It may comfort you to consider me ignorant of one of your most sacred religious practices, but my reponse to Mr. McCullough above clearly demonstrates that such is not the case. Given the unassailable defense of my position in my reponse to Mr. McCullough, your denial of my honest and accurate characterization of Christian communion as "ritual cannibalism" is "silly," and perhaps heretical.

Leaving aside your meaningless supernatural references, you state that "[b]elieving Catholics who receive the elements of the sacrament of Holy Communion partake of the body and blood ... of Jesus Christ, fully human." This is in keeping with the Catholic dogma of transubstantiation according to which the Eucharistic elements are, in part, the real human flesh and the real human blood of Jesus Christ. By Church teaching, hence your belief, a person who partakes of the Eucharistic elements is eating human flesh. A "person" is obviously a human being. From your definition, a human being who eats human flesh is a cannibal. Therefore, it logically follows that a person who partakes of the Eucharistic elements is a cannibal. Given your recapitulation of the teaching of the Catholic church, your denial of my characterization of Christian communion as "ritual cannibalism" is "foolish," and perhaps blasphemous.

I can appreciate that Christians cannot handle the rigors of a life devoted to reason and the pursuit of truth, the realities of existence, or the truth about their "mysteries." Calling something a "mystery" doesn't protect it from rational scrutiny, and simply believing something to be true doesn't make it true. That is why you should keep your childish dependency on your Mother Church and the Church fathers to yourself.

Correction:
Though his letter leads one to conclude that he is a believing Catholic, Mr. Lung writes in part in an e-mail dated 16 October 2004, "Although I take no offense, you are incorrect to say that I am a Catholic. I'm a Methodist heretic." This would account for his inability to comprehend fully the implications of the Catholic dogma of transubstantiation.

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Letter to the Editor published 23 April 1998 in the News & Record (Greensboro, NC), copyright 1998 by News & Record

A letter to the editor offends this reader

As a rule, comments to the editor do not trouble me, but I believe the News & Record stooped to an all-time low by printing a letter written by an atheist, inferring that President Clinton was a cannibal for taking communion at a Catholic mass.

As a Catholic, I find this statement to be ridiculous and offensive, but no more than the News & Record to print this statement made by James M. Wallace.

I believe the News & Record owes all Christians an apology.

Paul Moscato
Siler City

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The Compleat Heretic responds:

Mr. Moscato, I generally don't concern myself with the nonsense that Christians proclaim to be "absolute truth," but there are times when I find it both useful and necessary.

As an atheist and a freethinker, I think it is most ridiculous to believe that the utterance of some religious mumbo jumbo can "miraculously" transform a wheaten cracker into human flesh and grape wine into human blood. Furthermore, I think it is most offensive to believe that the consumption of these "transformed" foodstuffs is the "holiest" of acts when it is obviously ritual cannibalism.

I think you and all Christians owe all rational people an apology.

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E-mail to The Compleat Heretic

Positive E-mail

From: [Name withheld]
Subject: Clinton the Cannibal
Date: Thu, 09 Apr 1998 17:22:56 -0400

Hehehe, I guess it's pretty obvious that Clinton taking the sacrament means he is not vegetarian either....
couldn't resist! :) take care!

The Compleat Heretic responds:

NO! NOOOOOOO! NOT THE "UNGODLY" VEGETARIAN THREAD AGAIN!

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From: Chris Rice <chris.rice@jpfinancial.com>
Subject: Re: Cannibal Clinton update
Date: Fri, 15 May 1998 12:40:10 -0400

Thanks for sharing.

I am suprised you did not bring up the issue of free speech with Mr. Moscato's roasting of the N&R for printing
your letter. When people are angered by print, they are most likely angered by the truth shown in the print and
the damage it can do to their faith.

Keep it up. (no reference to your love caller intended)

The Compleat Heretic responds:

From: Matt Wallace <compleatheretic@yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: Cannibal Clinton update
Date: Fri, 15 May 1998 11:23:48 -0700 (PDT)

Well I suppose one could infer that Mr. Muscato was advocating censorship, but I only noted his expression
of outrage. Of course people with "true faith" are unshakeable as they have shut down their rational functions
(check out The Catholic Encyclopedia link; look up "Mystery"); it's the weak believers who get most upset.

When I was writing for The Carolinian, in the wake of my "Gay Ban" column, my friend and Opinions editor
Pradeep told me that some stupid little queer-loving freshman bitch came to the newspaper office to complain
exclaiming something to the effect, "He has no right to say those things!" Now that's censorship.

I'm in the process of writing another letter. I'm considering writing on the Democratic National Criminal Conspiracy
and their campaign finance scandal. I sort of want to write about those evil cop-killing Tilmon brothers as an
argument for capital punishment. I reckon I should write both and use the better one.

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From: Alex Matulich
Subject: Re: TAKE THAT, YOU PAPIST BASTARDS!
Date: Fri, 15 May 98 15:47:40 EDT

Not bad. I enjoyed it.

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From: David Hodges <DHodges449@aol.com>
Subject: Re: TAKE THAT, YOU PAPIST BASTARDS!
Date: Fri, 15 May 1998 15:48:17 EDT

compleatheretic@yahoo.com (Matt Wallace) writes:

> Even better, the News & Record published three letters from outraged Catholics over the next
> ten days. They seemed to be upset that an atheist would piddle with one of their "mysteries." Oh,
> my sacrilegious heart bleeds! I have placed them on the web as well along with my responses.

Nice letter! Congratulations on getting it published.

The responses all seemed very weak. Why isn't eating the supposed flesh of Christ cannibalism? Their answers
all seemed to amount to "it isn't because we say so!" Not very convincing.

Yeah, it's a "mystery".... why anyone would believe something so flat-out stupid.

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From: Tom Anderson <tanderso@stevens-tech.edu>
Subject: Re: My sacrilegious letter to the editor
Date: Sat, 16 May 1998 01:49:06 -0400

That was very amusing, thank you.

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From: Kristian Werner <kw@mensa.se>
Subject: Clinton Cannibalism
Date: Sun, 17 May 1998 13:28:52 +0200

Being a foreigner and somewhat out of touch with US politics, I won't go into the political part of this discussion.

The cannibalism, as far as I can tell (without doing the extensive research you've obviously done), is quite clear
(to anyone with half a mind).

"I think you and all Christians owe all rational people an apology." Yep, and it's long overdue, is it not?

Keep it up! (What? No, the good work ...)

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From: David Bleines <xmw68@dial.pipex.com>
Subject: Re: My sacrilegious letter to the editor
Date: Sun, 17 May 1998 08:25:38 +0100

I checked out the bit on the eucharist, and did indeed find it amusing. Will see how your site is going when less
pressed for time.

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Negative E-mail

Hmm, no one has chosen to be humiliated yet. Where's your spirit of martyrdom!

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