A “Mass” of Catholics

Today’s post is from guest blogger Daniel Jepsen

One of the great things about the English language is its utter absurdity.  Foreigners trying to learn English can be forgiven for wondering if we made up some rules just to confuse them.

Take collective nouns for animals.  Instead of just calling several members of the same species as a “group” or a “bunch” (like any logical 3-year old would) we insist on calling them a herd of cows, or a litter of puppies, or a troop of monkeys.  More sophisticated speakers will talk of a pod of walrus, a band of gorillas, a string of ponies.  Some collective nouns make no sense at all: a husk of jackrabbits, a knot of toads.  The best ones combine the idea of plurality with some characteristic of the species: A wake of buzzards, a parliament of owls, or (my favorite) a lounge of lizards.

But why should the animal world have all the fun here?  Could we not also think of some collective nouns for people or groups in the Bible?  Here are a few starters.

  • A pride of Pharisees
  • A sea of Egyptians
  • A lesion of lepers
  • A dirge of prophets
  • A scribbling of scribes
  • A confusion of concubines

We can do the same thing to today’s religious groups—

  • A chorus of charismatics
  • A potluck of Presbyterians
  • A mass of Catholics
  • A back-pew of Baptists
  • A porch-full of Mormons
  • A smashing of Luddites
  • A bank of tele-evangelists
  • A list of legalists

Or even groups from our own church—

  • A hush of ushers
  • A tyranny of toddlers
  • A tangle of teenagers
  • A babble of babies
  • A diarrhea of diapers
  • A caravan of minivans

Okay, your turn.

Send your suggestions in one of the three categories above.

Remember, they should combine the notion of plurality with some characteristic of the group.

Bonus points if they begin with the same letter.

It’s all yours, our rumpus of readers, our posse of pundits, our clash of commenters. Have some fun.

74 thoughts on “A “Mass” of Catholics

  1. Daniel:

    Thanks for the comments. I wasn’t sure how many would grab the 5th one. The last two might be a bit unfair. I was probably trying to be too cute. I wouldn’t know if all devil worshipers are witches, so that may be a stretch. It was irresistible to link the Russellites with one of the leading canine breeds. If you’ve ever found yourself in a theological argument with one, their tenacity can be quite dogged.



  2. How bout:

    a moor of Moravians
    a menagerie of Mennonites
    a mission of Amish
    a pile of pragmatists
    a troop of traditionalists
    a work of Wesleyans
    a combine of Campbellites
    a jackpot of Jesuits
    a cloud of Jehovah’s Witnesses
    a riot of revivalists
    a pie-eating-contest of Pietists

    … ok, maybe just a little too much Pirate Christian radio over here 😛


  3. I was going to suggest a silence of quakers, but I was beaten to it.

    There’s a wonderful book that is composed just of these, An Exaltaion of Larks. A very fun read.

    Two more:
    A Laise Faire of libertarians
    A loose reading of liberals. (Not totally sure about this one- any suggestions?)


  4. To be eschatological here:

    an allegory of amillenialists

    a dispatch of dispensationalists

    a positive of postmillennialists

    a past of preterists

    I just have to say that we have some incredibly creative people here (I’m just trying to emulate a little bit here)


  5. Just a few more?:

    A river of baptists

    A school of Jesuits

    A universe of Catholics

    A brood of atheists

    A cloud of agnostics

    A constellation of Aquarians

    A bushel of Adventists

    A coven of cloven

    A litter of Russellites


  6. A Friday feast:
    of fare for a faction of fractious fundamentalists and famished pharisees frenzily feeding on French fries and fillets of fish. following a feminist-bashing free-for-all at Frisco’s famed Fisherman’s wharf.



  7. Cadre is good. Perhaps a cache. They got to keep their character assassination weaponry somewhere.


  8. A herd of Hutterites – good! There’s a lot of Hutterites here on the Canadian prairies – I see them often here in Saskatoon.

    Another group very well represented here, especially in my corner of the province, are Mennonites – so here goes:

    A tight-fist of Mennonites!


  9. A litany of Lutherans.
    A granule of Quakers.
    A mutation of Mormons.

    A barebelly of Buddhists.
    A harem of Hindus.
    A chorus of Christians.
    A muster of Muslims.
    A confusion of Confucius.
    A nest of New Agers.


  10. A cacophony of Charismatics.
    A fiery-flank of Fundamentalists.
    A reconnoiter of Reformers.
    An aspersion of Anglicans.
    A parade of Pentecostals.
    A universe of Unitarians.
    A mess of Methodists.
    A herd of Hutterites.
    A colony of Congregationalists.
    A murder of Calvinists. (Sorry, couldn’t resist this one)
    An army of Arminians.
    A bevy of Baptists.


  11. No … but there would be some question about its applicability to some members of the group. For you, it would fit nicely; for others … eh, not so much. (I’ll refrain from including names or examples.)


  12. To be interfaith here:

    A kvetch of Jews
    A pilpul of Talmudists (pilpul is to argue a minor point to ad absurdio)


  13. A thump of fundamentalists?

    A silence of Quakers?

    A pub of Lutherans?

    A masquerade of Mega-churches?


  14. A murder of crows has a history – at least a literary history; I suggest. (this page ) for some collective-noun fun.

    For some made up phrases of my own:

    A cookie of Methodists.
    A lecture of Baptists.
    A blog of post-evangelicals.


  15. Not bad, but wouldn’t “a regiment of culture warriors” or “a battalion of culture warriors” work better? Or perhaps “a cadre of culture warriors” …


  16. AMAZED that no one has brought this up, but what would the name be for a group of post-evangelicals?

    A grumble of post-evangelicals?
    A headshake of post-evangelicals?
    A tavern of post-evangelicals?
    A chuckle of post-evangelicals?

    The mind boggles. Maybe a spencer of post-evangelicals?


  17. perhaps …
    • a cadre of Calvinists,
    • an angst of Arminians,
    • a folderol of fundamentalists,
    • and a hassle of heretics?


  18. I imagine it’s made up, like most of the examples of collective nouns are that people like to trot out in long lists.


  19. You beat me to the punch! I actually wrote an article a while back about the modern Church being a “murder of crows”, cawing incessantly, flying different directions, lacking clear leadership, etc.


  20. A flight of angels?

    A proclamation of preachers?

    A casserole of Lutherans?

    A drenching of Baptists?

    A sprinkling of Methodists?

    …which is a perfect lead-in to one of my favorite jokes: The drought was so bad around here last year that the Baptists were sprinkling and the Methodists were using a damp cloth….


  21. A collect of Episcopalians (or Anglicans, for that matter) hit the nail on the head. How about a choir of Mormons (if they are in a tabernacle)?


  22. Oh, and I always thought that a “murder of crows” was a VERY odd phrase. Who ever came up with that one?!

    Right now, I can’t think of anything creative to make up.


  23. Wow, Daniel, I never heard of a husk of jackrabbits or a knot of toads. The things you made up are great! I think I will use your tangle of teenagers and babble of babies!


  24. a-dooring Lutherans (adjectival useage)
    a divide of _________ (fill in your own fragmenting denom)
    a ninety-fifth of Lutherans
    a jello of Lutherans
    a corralling of Lutherans (variant spelling chorale-ing)


  25. How about an endowment of Episcopalians? (A collect of Episcopalians?)

    A pandemonium of Pentecostals?


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