Former Chicagoan Frederick Heese Eaton virtually wrote his own press release by dying and then spending all his money to publish his own book, Scandalous Saints. Live vanity press authors are all too common, pestering busy book review editors. Dead ones with sizable estates, however, make great feature stories.
Eaton died last year at age 79. His will demanded that his $200,000 estate be used to print his life's masterpiece and send it to as many libraries and news outlets as possible (a quick reading shows that Eaton provided little funding for proofreaders). His executors reluctantly obeyed, writing a preface that sounds more like a disclaimer.
Eaton's posthumous effort was spurned by the New York Times Book Review, naturally. Unless the author is P.J. O'Rourke, the Times rarely reviews books full of passages like "Today many people are shoving their Bibles into their garbage disposals. If you do this, just put in a few pages at a time so you don't jam the mechanism."
Scandalous Saints gathers every racy Bible story and says, Hey! Am I crazy, or are all these people having adulterous sex, incestuous sex, and who knows what else? He spices these observations with skeptical analyses of Bible stories such as that of Noah's ark. The job must have been long and arduous. Picking out all the sinful deeds and unlikely scenarios in the Bible would be a lot like counting all the "the"s in the Encyclopaedia Britannica--easy, but no end in sight. Still, Eaton's obvious hatred of religion surely made writing this book a satisfying hobby.
Eaton was by all accounts an unsuccessful writer in life, with the possible exception of his early works How to Make Beer and How to Make Champagne. In death, however, he showed a publicist's genius. Who can resist reporting a last wish this silly, and so offensive to so many? The Chicago Public Library is expecting at least one copy of Scandalous Saints, but librarians don't know when it might arrive or to what obscure library branch it may be banished. The only other library in Illinois with a copy is at Bradley University in Peoria. So for those without time for a road trip, here are a few choice excerpts:
"So why did Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt, take Sarah into his house? She was so beautiful. Well, for one thing, Pharaoh did not take her into his palace to wash the lavatories." (p. 11)
"According to the Bible saints God created the grass and trees first. After that, on the fourth day, he made the sun and moon. What we would like to ask, is: Have you ever tried to grow grass and trees in the dark without sunlight? They won't grow, will they? Of course not. But here we are supposed to believe that God was so stupid as to try to grow grass and trees before he created the sun." (p. 27)
"Furthermore, if God had to take a rib from Adam to make a female for him, then God would have had to do the same for every species. . . . This would have really kept God busy with scalpel and suture, considering all the forms of life in existence. Can you just see God putting the first male mosquito to sleep and removing his rib, if mosquitoes have ribs, and making a female mosquito out of it? If you can, you have a better imagination than most folks." (p. 30)
"The truth is, Saint Noah did not have all the species of animals on his boat, and didn't even come near it. Ask yourself this question: Why are all the kangaroos in Australia, and none in Armenia where Noah's ark is said to have landed?" (p. 39)
"The problem is: with flood waters covering the entire earth (including the seas) over six miles deep, where in the Old Harry did all this water go after the flood was over? A heck of a mess. Worse than no plumber and a big leak in a pipe on Sunday." (p. 40)
"There is no place in the entire Bible where it says: "A father shall not lie (sexually) with any of his daughters.' . . . But the Bible forbids a mother to copulate her son. (Leviticus 20:11) That's different! . . . Only men were allowed to entertain themselves with hanky-panky. Women were just there to do the laundry."(p. 83)
"Nowhere in the Bible is rape made a sin or a crime such as adultery or homosexuality, for example. Neither Moses nor Jesus Christ gave any law forbidding rape. According to the Bible, any Jew or Christian could rape a different woman or girl every week of his adult life and still go sailing off into heaven to spend eternity in bliss with Moses' and Jesus' blessings. Does religion really make people better as they claim? Better rapists, perhaps." (p. 88)
"Saint Moses told the Israelites they should sell their sick and dead cows to anybody that was not a Jew who might be living around them. . . . If you are not a Jew or Judeo-Christian, how would you like to have Moses or one of his followers as your jolly neighborhood butcher?" (pp. 93-94)
"Of course, the religious idiots among the Jews attributed Samson's great strength to the fact that he was a Nazarite who never had a haircut. They never stopped to think that there were numerous other Nazarite holy men who never had a haircut, but who were no stronger than the average guy you'd meet on the street. Religion sure fogs people's brains up, doesn't it?" (p. 129)
"But with God himself ignoring the enforcement of Moses' laws, who could enforce the law against King David? It made thinking people wonder sometimes. Were these really God's laws after all? In fact, was there even really a God? You couldn't tell by what went on with King David." (pp. 148-49)
"In Verse one of Chapter 25 of First Samuel it says: "And Samuel died.' Yet there are thirty-one Chapters to the book of First Samuel, so with Samuel dead in Chapter twenty-five, who wrote the last six Chapters of First Samuel? . . . How could Samuel write the book when he was already dead? Did they get it off a ouiji [sic] board or something?" (p. 150)
"Here is King David, who has broken his Jehovah God's law repeatedly, with murders and adulteries and more, claiming that after all this God still was doing business with him, and inspiring him with God's spirit, to speak. If this doesn't cure you of any regard for the inspiration of the Bible scriptures, nothing will. It's enough to make a decent person puke up his supper." (p. 151)
"Another thing: back in the Dark Ages when few people knew how to read, the clergy attracted people into church with statues of nude male saints. Many statues of male Christian saints in France were nude, revealing oversize penises. These were greatly admired and venerated by the Christian populace. . . . The Christian church members often used these nude statues in ways that people today might not suspect. In other words, the statues of nude saints were not merely bowed to or looked at. They were actually employed in ways that some women today use vibrators, and with the same results!" (p. 192)
"However, if heaven is so good, how is it that Christians are building so many hospitals and filling up all the hospitals? They're sure trying to avoid seeing Saint Peter and Jesus as long as possible." (pp. 202-3)
"All four of these writers of Jesus' life and death were supposed to have been present when Jesus died, and yet only Saint Matthew's book mentions the earthquake and the raising of the dead saints. If you had seen such an event, would you have failed to write about it later when compiling a record of Jesus' life? Hardly. Earthquakes and the raising of the dead don't occur so often as to make them commonplace. Of course you would have told about it." (p. 225)
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Illustration/Slug Signorino.