Markets in everything (and proud ye shall be)

by on January 10, 2012 at 1:06 am in Food and Drink, Religion | Permalink

Interesting throughout, but let’s cut to the chase:

Advertising our altar bread is a positive thing for Cavanagh Company. We take a lot of pride in putting our family name on a product that will eventually become the body and blood of Jesus.

You can file that under “Very good paragraphs.”  How about this one?:

Had production remained the exclusive bailiwick of monastic communities, it is likely that the findings of Vatican II would have prompted some minor changes in Communion-wafer production. Among the guidelines issued by the Church was a directive to “make the bread look more breadlike,” head of production Dan Cavanagh told me. It is a change whose significance may yet be lost on the millions of churchgoers who continue to think of hosts as a form of Styrofoam. Nevertheless, Cavanagh’s more “breadlike” whole-wheat wafer caught on. It became the industry standard, and forced the Poor Clare nuns to follow suit.

Some of it is better than satire:

…the company maintains a fully-automated production process where employees are forbidden from laying their hands on the wafers. “I feel pretty strongly that the host should not be touched,” Dan said. His view makes it easier to comply with legal guidelines for industrial food production, but it also gives the company something to market. “Our wafers are untouched by human hands,” boasts one promotional brochure. “That gets my dander up,” a Sister in Clyde told the Chicago Tribune: The Sisters’ touch gives what other businesses would call “added value.”

And what if you have coelic disease?  Every paragraph in this story is fascinating.  I thank Paul Hsieh for the pointer.

1 sd January 10, 2012 at 1:16 am

“And what if you have coelic disease?”

Most Catholic Churches make available low-gluten wheat communion wafers for those with coelic disease. Those with extreme cases thereof may simply drink the communion wine and skip the bread. Catholic doctrine is 100% clear on this – both the communion bread (body) and communion wine (precious blood) are a manifestation of and participation in the full body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus. One who consumes either makes a perfect and complete Holy Communion.

“I feel pretty strongly that the host should not be touched,” Dan said.”

Minor quibble – but its not a “host” in the factory – its just a piece of bread. It becomes a “host” (or victim) when consecrated at Mass.

2 randomreader1983 January 10, 2012 at 1:17 am
3 Anon January 10, 2012 at 1:49 am

Some of the negative reviews for these are hilarious.

4 Rahul January 10, 2012 at 2:07 am

Further I’m amused to know that there is a market for “used” Communion wafers (50 cents cheaper). Additionally under “Customers who bought this product also bought” is listed a black leather riding whip.

5 anon January 10, 2012 at 6:59 am

Many of the reviews are hilarious.

And almost all of them reflect a seemingly common misrepresentation or misunderstanding of the difference between a wafer (or bread) and a host.

As SD points out, Minor quibble – but its not a “host” in the factory – its just a piece of bread. It becomes a “host” (or victim) when consecrated at Mass. However, that’s not a minor quibble, for a Catholic it is central.

And since the wafers can be purchased by anyone, I’m just guessing that they are also purchased by many people who use them as gags or as part of rituals that are not necessarily Catholic or Christian. But that’s just a guess.

Here is some information on the Sacrament of the Eucharist:

6 KenF January 10, 2012 at 2:21 am

Host-est Bread

7 dearieme January 10, 2012 at 4:15 am

Endless, the fascination of studying primitive superstitions.

8 Laserlight January 10, 2012 at 9:49 am


9 msgkings January 10, 2012 at 1:06 pm


10 JWatts January 10, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Economics the Dismal superstition. 😉

11 curious January 10, 2012 at 7:24 am

Shouldn’t transubstantiation make celiac disease irrelevant?

12 dearieme January 10, 2012 at 8:58 am

Good point. It’s hard on vegetarians though.

13 Nessuno January 10, 2012 at 1:23 pm

You clearly don’t understand transubstantiation.

14 John January 11, 2012 at 8:57 am

That’s a good question. Transubstatiation is said to change the “elements” of the bread and wine, not the “accidents”. To put it in English: the bread and wine still retain their physical characteristics, but their essential nature has become the Body and Blood. As you have probably gathered, it doesn’t make much sense from a scientific standpoint; it’s supposed to be a “mystery”. Take it as you will.
So, celiac patients and people who can’t drink alcohol are still out of luck.

15 Patrick January 10, 2012 at 7:57 am

@curious: Transubstantiation does not change the visible properties of the wafer; the change is invisible. In the same way, drinking too much of the consecrated wine will lead to drunkeness.

16 John B. Chilton January 10, 2012 at 9:11 am

I like firing my communion bread baker.

17 celestus January 10, 2012 at 9:51 am

Hey, how about those crazy Mormons and their magic underwear? What a cult, huh?

18 taimyoboi January 10, 2012 at 3:17 pm

“We take a lot of pride in putting our family name on a product that will eventually become the body and blood of Jesus.”

Just another quibble, but i think they’re making a product that will become only the body of Jesus. As far as I could tell, they aren’t in the business of making wine.

19 BCL12 January 10, 2012 at 4:42 pm

According to Catholic teachings, both the bread and the wine become, in substance*, the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. The company might not make wine, but the bread will become both body and blood (plus soul & divinity).

*The distinction is drawn between substance of an object and the appearance of an object. Check out substance theory for the basic idea.

20 k. a. gardner January 10, 2012 at 5:09 pm

I think every paragraph is fascinating, too. I thank Ryan Advent for pointing out that Tyler Cowen thanked Paul Hseih for pointing out “Buying the Body of Christ” by Rowan Moore Gerety.

21 k. a. gardner January 10, 2012 at 5:17 pm

* Ryan Avent.

22 John January 11, 2012 at 9:03 am

I’m glad they’re putting pressure on those Poor Clares. They’ve been slacking off lately.

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