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James Joyce (3) vs. Mary Baker Eddy

Yesterday’s winner will come as no surprise to you. My favorite argument in favor of L. Ron Hubbard came from Jameson: “We know that Hubbard has what it takes in terms of cheating things. Specifically, he’d be willing to sell his own religion down the river (ahem) for an extra hour of life. Thus, we give Hubbard the gig, as long as he promises to utterly discredit Scientology.” But I don’t think we can give the seminar speaker this sort of constraint. Once Hubbard shows up, he could say whatever he wants. So I think Twain’s the one making it to the next round. Hubbard’s an impressive guy but he was up against a juggernaut.

And now, today we have another battle between a great author and the founder of a religion with the word “Science” in its name.

James Joyce is said to be one of the true masters of the English language; on the other hand, his work is said to be unreadable. Will this make him a good or bad seminar speaker? I have no idea.

Mary Baker Eddy is one of the few women to break the glass ceiling when it comes to the founding of religions; on the other hand, like Lauryn Hill, it seems that she couldn’t take the pressure. A hundred years ago she would’ve been a big draw; now, not so much.

So I’d say this will be a low-scoring game. One good quip in the comments could determine which of these dark horses advances to the next round.

P.S. As always, here’s the background, and here are the rules.


  1. Chris says:

    Joyce, with license to tell us what he really thought about bodily fluids.

  2. David N says:

    Joyce did invent the adjective “scrotumtightening,” but I’m going with Eddy so we can see an epic Twain v. Eddy rematch.

  3. Antony says:

    “I’ve put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that’s the only way of insuring one’s immortality.” (Joyce quoted in Ellman’s book) This could be a good topic for an introduction for young researchers on how to make their articles sufficiently opaque. (Although you might argue that few academics have any trouble in managing that.)

    Andrew, if you are hosting the seminar, the speaker should have some statistical connection. It is generally believed that Nora Barnacle (who later became Joyce’s wife) worked in Finn’s Hotel, where the Trinity College Statistics department was housed for many years.

  4. Tom says:

    According to wikipedia, Eddy believed that it it was possible to make someone ill, or even assassinate them using the power of the mind. This I gotta see – it would be like an audience with Darth Vader.

  5. Mark says:

    Eddy because why the Hell not. Plus, not having the faintest clue about who she was, I went to Wikipedia and found this bit about her dad: “he once killed a crow with his walking stick for violating the Sabbath.” Whoa! That’s far out! That’s a story to tell, much like this one:

  6. Jonathan (another one) says:

    Eddy makes me sick.

  7. Ethan Bolker says:

    Joyce, so he could be asked what he thought of Gell-Mann’s appropriating “quark”.

  8. Keith O'Rourke says:

    With admitted bias, an exiled Irishman becoming one of the true masters of the English language is gong to get my vote.

    Not like he led the Russian army or anything ( ), but still impressive.

  9. elizabeth says:

    MBE! MBE! MBE!
    joyce is ok I guess, but he didn’t have disciples who literally did not expect him to die

  10. Shecky R says:

    Reading him in high school I swore I NEVER wanted anything further to do with Joyce, so I’m forced to go with Mary (‘cuz I’m a man of my word); and after the seminar, I’ll split a Guinness with her… or, NOT.

  11. zbicyclist says:

    Eddy. I have wondered whether advances in science since her time would have led to a wholesale revision of her work (along the lines of Mormon revelations against polygamy, etc.).

    What would she think of her church having no ministers, and basically enshrining the book at unchanging truth?

    I would just sleep through Joyce, since I wouldn’t be able to follow him (even without the difference in our accents).

  12. Roy says:

    Clearly James Joyce. Why?

    Yes I said, and I asked again and he said yes, yes I said yes I will Yes!

  13. James says:

    I choose James Joyce. Why? Because I have never once seen a quote from Mary Baker Eddy painted on the wall of an Irish Pub.

  14. Matt Beaven says:

    Joyce all the way.

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