Date: Thu, 23 Oct 1997 13:28:17 -0400 From: Ron Butters Subject: the mindlessness of "bless you" >What in the world is so mindless with >saying "Bless you". Please >elaborate on your view of it being >mindless. Okay! 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.