Date: Fri, 24 Oct 1997 07:52:48 -0400


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.