Friday, September 01, 2017


Indecent Behavior in Church

Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic: Studies in Popular Beliefs in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971), p. 162:
A Cambridgeshire man was charged with indecent behaviour in church in 1598 after his 'most loathsome farting, striking, and scoffing speeches' had occasioned 'the great offence of the good and the great rejoicing of the bad'.2

2 Ely D.R., B 2/14, f. 137.
J.D. Salinger (1919-2010), The Catcher in the Rye (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1951), p. 17 (Chapter 3):
The only good part of his speech was right in the middle of it. He was telling us all about what a swell guy he was, what a hot-shot and all, then all of a sudden this guy sitting in the row in front of me, Edgar Marsalla, laid this terrific fart. It was a very crude thing to do, in chapel and all, but it was also quite amusing. Old Marsalla. He damn near blew the roof off. Hardly anybody laughed out loud, and old Ossenburger made out like he didn't even hear it, but old Thurmer, the headmaster, was sitting right next to him on the rostrum and all, and you could tell he heard it. Boy, was he sore. He didn't say anything then, but the next night he made us have compulsory study hall in the academic building and he came up and made a speech. He said that the boy that had created the disturbance in chapel wasn't fit to go to Pencey. We tried to get old Marsalla to rip off another one, right while old Thurmer was making his speech, but he wasn't in the right mood.
John Gould (1908-2003), Tales from Rhapsody Home (Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 2000), pp. 131-132:
Some of our best farts were heard or suppressed in church. Many's the demure maiden lady who thought she had a silent kind and came out loud and strong. It was pleasant to see her sitting there in the pew looking like the Twenty-Third Psalm and wondering if she'd soiled her drawers. Many, also, were they who refrained from offending at great risk, and then let go during the doxology, which was tumultuous enough to drown out all competition. Nobody heard these offerings, but there were lingering testimonials of what happened.

Thanks to Eric Thomson for the following quotation from Edward Abbey (1927-1989), Confessions of a Barbarian: Selections from the Journals, ed. David Petersen (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1994), p. 140 (May 20, 1956):
There is the diffident fart of the seminarian, the gritty fart of the Bible student, the fart loud and exhortatory of the fundamentalist preacher, the incriminating and revealing fart of the evangelist, the mellifluous fart of the TV theologian, the impromptu fart of the organist and the fart sotto voce a la tempo of the choirmaster. There is the discreet and sanctimonious fart of the priest, the consecrated fart of the nun, the inadvertent fart of the altar boy, the irritable fart of the bishop, the arch-fart of the archbishop, the painful and self-conscious fart of the cardinal, the solemn apostolic liturgical and infallible fart of the Pope himself. There will be finally the final divine omnipotent pretentious imperial fart of God. After that, nothing fartable will remain to be farted; for the mystery beyond God—the All-Source, the Brahman—does not fart.


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