click here for gadget for god  
about the ship sign up for our newsletter
community the mystery worshipper gadgets for god caption competition foolishness features ship stuff
features home columnists archive
loose canons
There's a thin line between saintliness and madness. Here are inspiring tales of holy folly that laugh in the face of human wisdom... and also breathtaking examples of religious stupidity that fly in the face of common sense.

As told by Stephen Tomkins

More Loose Canons here
5: No eggs, no milk, no sex... yes, it's the Cathars!
HE CATHAR SECT brought a refreshing breath of negativity and paranoia to the Middle Ages that's hard to beat.

They decided that if God created the soul for heaven, then the material world must be the creation of the Devil. "You want proof?" they asked. "How could a good God create a world with worms and frogs in it?" QED.

So how do you get saved from the world? Apart from avoiding all the more traditional sins, you have to be celibate (so married people get divorced) and also vegan – because eggs and milk come from animals, and animals come from sex, and sex comes straight from Satan's nastiest cauldron. (They weren't sure where Satan came from, but sex was a strong contender.) And even then you have to fast three days a week.

The problem was that people were inexplicably unsure about signing up for this liberating lifestyle. So they invented a two-tier system: there were the
perfecti, who took the initiation rite and lived the so-called life, and then there were the credentes, who thought it would be a good idea, one day.

credentes were still on line for etenal damnation, unfortunately, but the idea was that on their deathbed they would take the initiation rite and became perfecti. Predictably, some of those who followed this course of action were horrified to find themselves recovering and having to spend the rest of their days on Linda McCartney sausages for one.

It was swings and roundabouts. The good news was that the Cathars understood human frailty, and offered a get-out for those who thought they couldn't hack it. The bad news is that it was asphyxiation.

More Loose Canons
st simeon
St Simeon
Don't forget to pay your respects to our patron saint, St Simeon the Holy Fool.
follow ship of fools on twitter
buy your ship of fools postcards