Holy high holidays!

axe-and-chopping-blockEvery now and then, the avid news reader clicks on a link or opens up a newspaper and is faced with something so strange that it simply cannot be comprehended. As we have seen recently, this seems to happen quite often in MSM coverage of religion. So here we go again.

This bizarre Associated Press story, as sent to us by a faithful reader in Pittsburgh, is quite short. Thus, let me share -- brace yourself -- the whole thing:

PHILADELPHIA -- An animal welfare official says a beheaded dog and cat found in Philadelphia appear to be the result of a ritual sacrifice.

George Bengal, Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals director of investigations, said the dog and cat were found ... near a bike path in Philadelphia's Olney neighborhood along with three beheaded chickens. He said he believes the animals were killed elsewhere and the remains dumped where a passer-by found them.

Mr. Bengal said there is usually an increase in ritual animal sacrifices at this time of year because of "a lot of high holidays that different groups celebrate."

But he said most of those sacrifices involve goats and chickens.

Say what? Let's read that quote again, the one in which it is claimed that the number of ritual animal sacrifices spike at this time of year because of "a lot of high holidays that different groups celebrate."

Now, it is true that this strangeness takes inside quotation marks so, on one level, AP is off the hook. But what in the world are these words supposed to mean? Are we to believe that there is a wave of beheaded animal corpses because of (a) the arrival of Advent/Nativity Lent, (b) approaching observances of Hanukkah, (c) Kwanzaa festivities, (d) some alleged connection to Solstice? Is the goal to link this to voodoo or something?

But before you go there, please note that the story says absolutely nothing that would point toward Santeria and, even if it did, there is no discussion of whether these sacrifices in any way fit patterns of worship in that tradition. You see, it's wrong for journalists to say, "Behold, beheaded animals. Those Santeria people are at it again." That's too simplistic.

So let me ask the obvious question and ask readers to weigh in: Precisely what "high holidays" are we supposed to assume are being discussed here? I honestly do not have a clue.

What does this strange sentence mean? Just asking.

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