A former roller hockey standout, World Record-setting Leap Frogger, and Sheep Lifting Champion for the state of Indiana, Robey Barnes is now a beloved teacher and leader of men here in the great state of Florida. We are honored to have him with us today to help unpack the second-most delicate topic we’ve ever tackled here.
By: Robey Barnes
flag·el·late: [v. flaj-uh-leyt; adj., n. flaj-uh-lit, -leyt] verb, flag·el·lat·ed, flag·el·lat·ing, adjective, noun verb (used with object) — to whip; scourge; flog; lash. (dictionary.com)
It wasn’t until recently that I became aware of a practice of a more extreme order of ascetic monks –the Flagellants. These monks, in a show of penance, would whip themselves across their back. With some it could be as many a hundred times in a single session.
Our modern sensibilities are shocked by such a display of self-harm. Imagine the severe pain, ripping across their backs. Is that agony really necessary to show devotion? Our instincts are to say to these ancient and modern radicals, be free. Your stripes are not necessary.
But before we deem this practice as primitive and distasteful, we have to face an uncomfortable truth. It intersects with a practice that we are all too familiar with. Flagellation has an unlikely cousin. A word, similar sounding, and more similar in concept than we would care to admit: Flatulence.*
flat·u·late: [flach-uh-leyt] verb (used without object), flat·u·lat·ed, flat·u·lat·ing — to expel intestinal gas through the anus. (dictionary.com)
Think of the pain we willingly go through to maintain our social piety. We who, with insides churning, foreheads sweating, cheeks clenched willingly undergo self-inflicted intestinal torture to avoid a dreaded social damnation. We who willingly undergo a pricey penance at the altar of social propriety, who are we to judge?
Could it be that withholding Flatulation is our Flagellation? I ask you, are we much different?
I say, let us link arms with our fellow radical devotees and be free of the bonds! Let us no longer unnaturally flog our innards, hypocritically thinking that such a faux pas is beneath us.
Some may retort, but do we not flog our friends with the foul fragrance of this form of freedom? Nay! Let us reinterpret this primal bouquet as the broken bonds of social imprisonment! Is the stench not a small price to pay for the liberation of our brother and our sister?
Just as I see the monk hanging up the flagellum, I hear the flatulence ring in quiet libraries, in crowded subways, and in five-star dining establishments. I hear the rumble of liberty in opera houses, in wedding chapels, and around campfires (assuming all safety precautions have been taken). I hear it strategically thundering during the poignant pauses of graduation speeches, business meetings, and newscasts.
Just think: We can turn the tide of this tyrannical social norm! We can!
(A profound video showing the dreams of the Morning Star of the Flatulence Revolution.)
*Admittedly, there are other times when these two concepts would undoubtedly intersect – as in the unintentional flatulation during a more severe session of flagellation.