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A Mass of Catholics

A Mass of Catholics

One of the great things about the English language is its utter absurdity. Foreigners trying to learn English can be forgiven for wondering if we made up some rules just to confuse them. Take collective nouns for animals. Instead of just calling several members of the same species as a “group” or a “bunch” (like any logical 3-year-old would) we insist on calling them a herd of cows, or a litter of puppies, or a troop of monkeys. More sophisticated speakers will talk of a pod of walrus, a band of gorillas, a string of ponies. Some collective nouns make no sense at all: a husk of jackrabbits, a knot of toads. The best ones combine the idea of plurality with some characteristic of the species: A wake of buzzards, a parliament of owls, or (my favorite) a lounge of lizards.

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But why should the animal world have all the fun here? Could we not also think of some collective nouns for people or groups in the Bible? Here are a few starters.

  • A pride of Pharisees

  • A sea of Egyptians

  • A lesion of lepers

  • A dirge of prophets

  • A scribbling of scribes

  • A confusion of concubines We can do the same thing to today’s religious groups

  • A chorus of charismatics

  • A potluck of Presbyterians

  • A mass of Catholics

  • A back-pew of Baptists

  • A porch-full of Mormons

  • A smashing of Luddites

  • A bank of tele-evangelists

  • A list of legalists

Got any good ones?

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Jul 16, 2023

A babel of evangelicals?

Daniel Jepsen
Daniel Jepsen
Jul 19, 2023
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I like it!

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