• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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Bashing the Bishop (2)

The current New York Review of Books discusses the history of hand relief, with a review of a book on the subject by Thomas W Laquer. The case of Samuel Pepys (who blogs here) in particular caught my eye:

Only on such solemn occasions as High Mass on Christmas Eve in 1666, when the sight of the queen and her ladies led him to masturbate in church, did Pepys’s conscience speak out, and only in a very still, small voice.

The Sin of Onan was actually about failure to procreate, and punishing Percy in the palm was not such a big deal before it became a medical issue in the eighteenth century:

Within the monastery anxiety focused far more on sodomy than on masturbation, while in the world at large it focused more on incest, bestiality, fornication, and adultery.

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