Date: Fri, 24 Oct 1997 07:52:48 -0400
From: Robert Ness ness[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]DICKINSON.EDU
Subject: Re: the mindlessness of "bless you"
as an athiest, do you take similar offense at goodbye (god be with ye)
or so long (salaam aleikoum)? On Thu, 23 Oct 1997, Ron Butters
What in the world is so mindless with
saying "Bless you". Please
elaborate on your view of it being
1. Since a sneeze is rarely if ever dangerous (at least to the sneezer), it
strikes me as mindless to be prayed over simply because I sneezed. People
don't say "Bless you" after farts, burps, or (usually) coughs, so why
sneezes? (I realize that there are folk-explanations for the sneezee's "Bless
you," some or all of which may be historically accurate, but that is beside
the point. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that the custom is
mindless, rather than the act of saying "Bless you"!)
2. As an atheist, I'm unot especially delighted when people saying prayers on
my behalf (at least vocal ones in my presence). It seems rather "mindless" to
assume that I want to be prayed over!
I should add that I am much too polite a person not to respond with "thank
you" to a proferred "Bless you"--in fact, what maybe others me REALLY about
the "Bless you" routine is that sometimes people seem irritated with me if I
don't say "Bless you" when THEY sneeze.
I should add also that I don't have a lot invested in all this--there are a
LOT of times when I feel out of touch with my own culture, as for example
when people ASSUME that I am interested in sports (who IS Dean Smith,
anyway?--recently somebody asked me to observe a moment of silence in honor
of Mr. Smith's impending retirement!) or that I drink alcoholic beverages.