Yo! tmatt is not "HolyOffice"

galileoholyoffTugging thoughfully on my beard, I would like to take a moment of your time to clear up a conspiracy theory floating about linked to GetReligion. I am not "HolyOffice" and "HolyOffice" is not me.

It seems that Mark Liberman over at the Language Log has decided that I am a much funnier, talented and sarcastic person than I actually am. I am not the author of this post at Live Journal:

The Internet Theologian Explains The Da Vinci Code

As the responses to my helpful guide on Christianity show, when theological controversies arise, many people wisely turn to an anonymous crank with a web log. Or, as I prefer, to a Big-Time Internet Theologian.

Said digital theologian then riffs on strange things in The Da Vinci Code.

It's pretty funny. I didn't write it.

However, after doing some snooping, the Language Log scribe broke this news:

This captures the book's zany dream-logic better than any other reviews that I've seen. At this point, though, I need to ’fess up that holyoffice, the author of The Medicine Box blog on Livejournal, is apparently* Terry Mattingly, who also posts on the blog GetReligion ("The press ... just doesn't get religion"). In Real Life, he's director of the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, and author of a weekly column for Scripps Howard. In other words, an old-media infiltrator.

When you're done with as many of those links as you care to follow, you might want to try the glossary of Christian terminology at the end of the post "The Interpretive Dance Theocrats" (Terry Mattingly as holyoffice on The Medicine Box, 5/12/2006), which begins:


This is the belief among some Christians that, ever since Jan. 1, 2000, it has no longer been possible, in the words of the Prince song, "to party like it's 1999." Postmillenialists are those Christians who believe that it will always be possible to do so, while Amillenialists believe that in this context, "1999" cannot be understood literally, but must be read as an allegorical term roughly meaning "a time at which it is especially appropriate to party."

That piece is even funner than the DVC satire. I did not write it, either (although part of we wishes that I had). But here is the strange thing. When you go to the info page for "HolyOffice," he or she lists GetReligion as her or his own website.

As a rule, don't you wish that people who write sarcastic things on blogs would use their own names? I mean, why create fictional characters like that? I mean, the device is kind of fun, but not knowing who is who makes it hard to know what is going on.

Which raises another point: Can anyone find a way to leave a comment at Language Log? I mean, this "HolyOffice" person deserves credit for his or her work. Right now, all we have is this:

* I inferred that Terry Mattingly is holyoffice, or perhaps vice versa, from the LiveJournal profile page for holyoffice, which gives The Press doesn't get religion in the "website" slot. Among the folks who post there, Terry Mattingly seemed like the best fit to "holyoffice". If I got that wrong (and two readers have written with scholarly objections to the analysis), I apologize to all concerned.

Updated: Check out the comments and you'll see that Liberman has now corrected his post. That was really fast, which probably means that the two blogs share many readers. Thank you to Cathy Grossman of USA Today and others who sent me Liberman's email address for my files (even before he visited our comments pages on his own). Thanks all!

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