What is tat?
May 30, 2005 1:35 PM   Subscribe

Every so often, when reading online discussions between Catholics and/or Anglicans, I see people mentioning something called "tat". What the heck is tat?

Putting the word in context it seems to refer to a certain style of worship, one that is a little over the top, or to something that happens during worship. I am not at all sure about this though. Googling does nothing except bring up a few instances of folks using the word but not defining it and a whole lot of misspellings of the word "that".
posted by LeeJay to Religion & Philosophy (16 answers total)
I'm not sure if it is what you're looking for but Wikipedia has a few suggestions.
posted by purephase at 1:44 PM on May 30, 2005

It is something you can exchange "tit" for.
posted by fixedgear at 1:57 PM on May 30, 2005

Best answer: There was a Gnostic scholar in 2nd Century times named Tatian.

"Christian tat", however, is british slang for spiritual tchotchkes, such as Virgin Mary night lights and "Jesus is My Homeboy" t-shirts. The tatomondo section of an Anglican website explains things in greater detail.

There are rumors of a linguistic Christian Tat, which would be a variation of Iranian dialect.
Any evidence of such, however, appears to be unverified.
posted by Smart Dalek at 2:26 PM on May 30, 2005

If Smart Dalek's answer isn't right, you could always consider logging into said discussion boards and asking the posters themselves.
posted by interrobang at 2:27 PM on May 30, 2005

Response by poster: "Christian tat", however, is british slang for spiritual tchotchkes, such as Virgin Mary night lights and "Jesus is My Homeboy" t-shirts. The tatomondo section of an Anglican website explains things in greater detail.

Thank you Smart Dalek. That fits perfectly with how I've seen it used.
posted by LeeJay at 2:30 PM on May 30, 2005

I doubt it's something that happens during the mass [unless it's some sort of regional slang] - never learned about it in years and years of religion classes at Catholic schools.

Some googling brings up Talking About Touching, a controversial program implemented in the Boston Diocese to teach kids about avoiding sexual abuse. From your description, though, it doesn't sound like that's what you're encountering.
posted by ubersturm at 2:30 PM on May 30, 2005

I've never heard it referred to in the context of religion, but the word 'tat' is commonly used here in the UK to refer to small, cheap, and usually tasteless, items.
posted by veedubya at 2:43 PM on May 30, 2005

This seems to have been asked & answered already, but for the record, the OED has as a definition of tat "5b. Rubbish, junk, worthless goods."
posted by Johnny Assay at 2:43 PM on May 30, 2005

just in case it's not completely clear, there is no religious conotation at all to the word tat - it's just junk.
posted by andrew cooke at 3:27 PM on May 30, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the help. The discussions I saw were mostly UK based so their use of "tat" to describe religious bric-a-brac now makes sense. And I have a new word to describe the kitschy, campy crap I love.
posted by LeeJay at 3:57 PM on May 30, 2005

Best answer: Leejay, Smart Dalek is not correct in this instance. Religious tat in the sense you are probably seeing it discussed by Anglicans is absolutely not "slang for spiritual tchotchkes". Tchtochkes are tat per se - tat as in the kind of stuff you find in seedy souvenir stalls but when an Anglocatholic writes about seeing 'superb tat' at a church he/she does not mean that the church was tasteless or kitsch but the very reverse - that they had excellent elaborate vestments and ecclesiastical paraphernalia suitable for High Anglican worship. Hence a 'tat-box' is slang for a certain sort of High anglican church and 'tat queens' are priests or servers who like dressing up in elaborate vestments. Here's a thread from Ship of Fools which has some discussion of tat on it - and a few others.

Ordinarily religious tat means the kind of tchtochkes you mention but in the Anglican context the word has been appropriated ironically to mean things considered to be very tasteful and important in worship - though it's partly self-deprecating (people who don't like that tradition, might call it kitsch or camp as a term of abuse). However unless they are explicitly discussing Virgin Mary snowglobes and glow in the dark rosaries, you should assume that they actually mean vestments and accoutrements used in an Anglican church which prefers a Catholic style of worship.
posted by Flitcraft at 4:40 PM on May 30, 2005

Once again, the "best answer" tag is over-hastily applied (assuming Flitcraft knows whereof she speaks, which I presume she does, because she joined MeFi at almost the exact same time I did).

From Smart Dalek's final link:

Only about 1% of the Mussulman Tat in Azerbaijan are Christian.

That is an extremely odd statement.
posted by languagehat at 5:11 PM on May 30, 2005

Response by poster: Flitcraft, thanks. That makes even more sense. I believe that some of the places I have seen it used were talking about tat in the sense of Smart Dalek's kitschy stuff but the Anglicans must have been talking about it the way you described. Thanks for the in-depth info.
posted by LeeJay at 5:57 PM on May 30, 2005

So is "tit-for-tat" somehow related to this definition of "tat"?

(does it translate to "junk-for-junk"?)
posted by five fresh fish at 6:20 PM on May 30, 2005

Sounds to me like British for what we call, in America, "High Church". I've heard it said that the Episcopalian (Anglican) are more "high church" than the Catholics anymore. When I was taught the term, the main indicator of high church was the use of lots of incense, but of course, vestments go along with that.
posted by Goofyy at 9:47 PM on May 30, 2005

See here for tit for tat (sorry, don't know how to spring to the middle of a web page. Probably should put that up as question.)
posted by IndigoJones at 2:38 PM on May 31, 2005

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