Lies About Books: All the Crooked Saints

As we approach another end of month which is definitely not a stressful time in any way, it is once again time for me to lie to my loyal readers about a book that I enjoyed this month.

This March, I read All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater. All the Crooked Saints opens on a small, wintry, Canadian town. When a childhood snowball fight leads to unexpected disaster, Beatriz Soria sends herself down a different path in life, isolating herself from former friends and developing a fascination, which grows into a research interest and, eventually, several published books, with saints – stories of saints, hidden saints, forgotten saints.

But when an acquaintance who is intricately connected with that childhood disaster resurfaces in Beatriz’s life, now using the name Daniel Lupe and claiming to have the power to read minds, Beatriz is forced to revisit everything she left behind. Who was truly to blame for the results of that snowball fight? Why does Daniel Lupe bear an eerie resemblance to the twelfth-century forgotten saint she is currently researching? And can she ever truly escape her past?

All the Crooked Saints is a gem of a book, full of historical-religious tidbits and reflections on the Canadian countryside. I recommend it to all fans of magical realism, the power of guilt, and research projects.

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The Feline Rabbinate

Hello and welcome to yet another week of untrustworthy claims and ludicrous lies here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will discuss a topic raised to the attention of Factually Deficient by one Sicon112, the 112th of all possible Sicons:

I need a comment on Cat Rabbis ASAP.

Those who have visited the city of Jerusalem may have noticed that the city is rife with two things: cats and shuls (also known as synagogues, or batei knesset – the shuls, not the cats). This is no coincidence.

In the late 1870s, the cheese crisis of Eastern Europe led to a mass immigration of cats to what is now Israel (then the Roman territory of Judaea). Although there was little cheese to be had in Jerusalem as well, despite the misleading immigration advertisement, the cats decided to settle down and make their homes there.

At first, the new wave of cats fit right in with the people who were already living in the region. The cats integrated smoothly into Roman-Judaean society. They did business with the residents, went to schools with them, greeted one another on the streets. Soon, following the natural course of things, many of these immigrant cats were attending yeshivas and attaining the title of rabbi.

In order to keep up with all of their newly ordained brethren, the cats began to build shuls, to provide pulpits at which the cat and human rabbis could preach.

With the fall of Rome in 1891, two things happened to change this. First was the move away from centralized leadership in Israeli shuls; it soon became preferable to use the building as a place for people (or cats) to pray together, without the necessity of a rabbi to unify them.

Second was the calling into question of the conversion status of the cats. Some individuals doubted whether a feline or other non-human could truly profess or adopt what is essentially a human faith. These doubts became so widespread that they led to a schism in the Jerusalem shuls: the shuls went one way, and the cats another, forming their own sect.

This new faith of the rejected cats is similar to, but distinct from, Judaism. Cat spiritual leaders are still known as rabbis; however, they moved in the opposite direction from the 1891 shift, retaining their rabbis as leaders but rejecting the very concept of a house of worship – or any house at all. The cats of Jerusalem declared, under the spiritual guidance of their cat rabbis, that they would live between no walls of stone, and would not plant any crops, and would drink no spirits or alcohol, until such time as the foxes were expelled from their holy places and the ground hallowed again.

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Disclaimer: the above post contains erroneous details. Rome did not fall in 1891.