Friday, August 12, 2011

Hardest Working Muscle

Scientists have now grown a working anal sphincter in a petri dish. (Thanks, i09!). This is big medical news. And -- strangely enough -- it reminds us of a story.

One of our colleagues is a retired Army chaplain, with the aggressive style and blunt manners that you might expect from a soldier-priest. He also has a mouth so filthy that it even makes Father Anonymous blush from time to time. Another pastor once sat at a table during a clergy Bible study and quietly made a hash-mark each time Fr. Falmouth dropped the F-bomb. He eventually lost count, but assures us that the number was very high. At a Bible study.

Anyway, Fr. F. himself likes to tell a story about his years on active duty. His superior officer, in the course of chewing him out, called him -- well, that thing that just got grown in a petri dish, but using the more conventional Army term. So Chaplain F. pulled himself up to attention and said, "Thank you sir. I consider that a great compliment."

"A ... compliment?"

"Yessir. The anal sphincter is the hardest-working muscle in the body."

The story has been told and retold around many a clerical campfire in our synod. By now, its punchline has a life of its own. And so, in honor both of our friend Fr. Falmouth and of the crack research team at Wake Forest, Emory and U. Mich., we are introducing a new hash tag for the blog: the Hardest Working Muscle.

We have needed a term like this for some time. After all, many of the people about whom we find ourselves writing -- ministers who steal Christmas presents, biologists who mock women as severely as they mock religion, members of Congress and terrorists (if indeed the two can still be classified separately) deserve to be called ... well, that thing. And so they are, in our private conversation. But a few readers have suggested that more decorum is called for in public, and they are surely right -- so we shall euphemize.

Still, we think this expression will get a lot of use.

No comments: