explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Title text: The local police, growing increasingly concerned about this church, ask parishioners to take a sip of wine and then spit it back out for DNA testing. It's blood, and it matches a 1970s murder victim.
This comic plays on the Christian tradition that the Holy Communion bread and wine symbolize Jesus' flesh and blood. It is based on the words of Jesus (from the synoptic gospels and Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians) during the Last Supper, today used by the priest as Words of Institution. According to the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, as well as in the Eastern Christian tradition, bread and wine literally turn into Jesus' flesh and blood during the ceremony. Protestant denominations reject this doctrine, with some taking the words as wholly symbolic of Jesus' sacrificial death (Baptists, Mennonites, Anabaptists, Pentecostals, etc.) and others believing in the *real presence* of Christ in the bread and wine while not insisting that the bread and wine is changed in any physical way (Lutheran, Presbyterian, Anglican, Methodist, etc.).
The title text further spoofs the doctrine of transubstantiation and elaborates on Danish's concern in the last panel by supposing that the act of taking a sip of wine during Holy Communion turns that wine into the blood, not of Jesus, but of a decades-old murder victim.
- [Cueball and Danish are taking a stroll]
- Cueball: How was Christmas? Did you go to church?
- Danish: Yup. We celebrated the birth of a child, then we ate of his flesh and blood.
- [Silence from Cueball]
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- Danish: Seriously hope we got the right child this time.
This was one of the reasons early Christians were persecuted by the Romans. They thought the Christians were cannibals. 184.108.40.206
00:53, 27 December 2012 (UTC)
- Did they actually though that or did they only used it as pretext for persecution? -- Hkmaly (talk) 09:20, 27 December 2012 (UTC)
Isn't he making fun of that doctrine?Guru-45 (talk) 07:16, 27 December 2012 (UTC)
Transubstantiation isn't about bread literally turning into flesh. I don't know how to explain it properly, but it is based on Middle Age Christian philosophy (scholastic, St. Thomas, I think) that differentiates the accidents (appearance, taste etc.) of a thing from its true substance. Transubstantiation means that the bread becomes flesh (acquires the substance of Jesus' flesh) even though it retains the appearance and all qualities of bread.
This doctrine is of course highly outdated and I can't think of why the Catholics haven't dropped it yet. It also causes a lot of confusion. --Artod (talk) 09:07, 27 December 2012 (UTC)
- If it's middle age Christian, what was the explanation before that? -- Hkmaly (talk) 09:20, 27 December 2012 (UTC)
- I would think that the original interpretation is symbolism. Jesus and his diciples were eating the passover meal, and the central piece was a sacrifical lamb. I think that it's a way for Jesus to say that the purpouse of the lamb is becoming dated, cause I'm about to be murdered, and that is what will save you in the end, not sacrifices. From start christians have called him the Lamb of God. Hope you had a merry Christmas! -- St.nerol (talk) 10:14, 27 December 2012 (UTC)
- The "lamb of God" is thought to be a malpropism from one ancient language to another. I don't have my source material to hand, but it seems likely that the original was "word of God", and "lamb" had a similar sound and so became entangled in the confusion
- As a New Testament student, I would be interested in seeing a source for that. There are two Greek words translated as "Lamb" in the New Testament. Are you saying that one or both of them sound like an Aramaic word for "word", for instance? Both are used in contexts where "Lamb" makes sense and "Word" does not (i.e. referring to Jesus as a sin-bearing sacrifice). Also, John's Gospel has called Jesus "the Word" several times just before quoting John the Baptist as referring to Jesus as "the Lamb of God" twice. Seems strange that a mistake would be made twice on one page (for instance) when it was avoided five times on the previous page.220.127.116.11 08:53, 10 January 2013 (UTC)
- Thomism (the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas) is built on Aristotle's thought and thus this understanding has always been applied to the Eucharist, albeit possibly not as explicitly as through Thomism.
- In fact, Wikipedia does have a pretty good article about transubstantiation.--Artod (talk) 11:53, 27 December 2012 (UTC)
- It does seem quite good. Were you thinking about anything in particular? -- St.nerol (talk) 19:25, 27 December 2012 (UTC)
The 'punchline' and title text are two of the most macabre things I've ever seen Randall write in this comic - and the hilarity still comes across!--Dangerkeith3000 (talk) 16:22, 27 December 2012 (UTC)
Has anybody figured out what the '1970s murder victim' reference in the hovertext is referring to? Lot of people died then - I have no idea how to even start narrowing it down 18.104.22.168 16:39, 27 December 2012 (UTC)
- Will it referring to this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boy_in_the_Box_(Philadelphia) Ykliu (talk) 06:58, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
Just remind me of a film: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Baby_of_Mâcon
Speaking as a Catholic, my first reaction was "Oy, I've never heard that one before (eye roll)". It is a pretty old gag, but Randall definitely has a gift for putting comedic timing into 2-dimensional comic panels; I still laughed. Tractarian (talk) 16:06, 28 December 2012 (UTC)
Randall misspelled "parishioner". 22.214.171.124 12:00, 29 December 2012 (UTC)
The last sentence of the explanation is is really awkward to me. I want to rewrite it but I'm not too smart on theology so I'm not sure if this is the right way. What do you think?
- Protestant denominations (e.g., Baptists, Mennonites, Anabaptists, Pentecostals) reject the doctrine of Transubstantiation, with some taking the words as wholly symbolic of Jesus' sacrificial death. Others (e.g, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Anglican, Methodist) believe Christ is actually present in the bread and wine although the bread and wine are not changed in any physical way . --Smartin (talk) 03:35, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
Hold on a minute. The church in the title text is evidently ritually sacrificing/apotheosizing persons and then transubstantiating their flesh and blood for consumption in order to redeem their sins. (Presumably ritual sacrifice is kosher.) Now the police have a blood sample from a 1970 murder victim as a result of confiscating the transubstantiated materials. How did they get the blood from the victim for comparison if he was killed by the church and they disposed of the remains? I hope Dexter isn't involved on this one. 126.96.36.199 09:15, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
note that some presbyterian churches share the opinion that the Lords Supper is only "sign and seal of the covenant of grace". So they don't believe that Jezus is spiritual in the bread and wine.