University of Notre Dame theologian Candida Moss specializes in Bible studies and early Christian history and is the author most recently of The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom. Before participating in a panel on why we need saints, she talked about her suspicions involving a conspiracy to oppress cold caffeine drinkers and what it’s like to read The Great Gatsby for the first time as an adult.
What animal would you want to be?
It’s tough for me to separate out my favorite animal from the animal I’d want to be. I guess I’d want to be a greyhound because they’re sleek and they can run fast, and I’m a terrible runner.
What do you eat for breakfast?
I don’t eat breakfast. I have Diet Coke. I firmly believe there’s a conspiracy about oppressing cold caffeine consumers.
What’s your favorite Twitter feed?
I’m such a stereotype: BuzzFeed.
How do you react when you’re embarrassed?
I laugh usually and go bright red, but I’m usually more embarrassed for other people. I’m someone who cringes at the original U.K. version of The Office.
What does it take to get you out on a dance floor?
A couple of martinis and some Miley Cyrus—early Miley Cyrus, I might add.
If you were going to martyr yourself for a particular cause, which would you choose?
I think maybe disability rights. I believe really strongly in disability rights.
What’s your specialty in the kitchen?
Soufflé, which is very 1970s chic of me, but it’s not ironic, so any cool factor I may have gotten has evaporated.
What is your most prized material possession?
I have a bronze humidor from the 19th century that has a depiction of female martyrs being executed. They’re all naked, and it’s clearly sort of 19th-century ironic art disguised as pious religious artifact, and I love it.
What’s the last great book you read?
I don’t really read for pleasure anymore, it’s really sad. But I recently read, for the first time before I saw the film, The Great Gatsby, because it’s not a part of English education. I thought that was pretty good. It’s so embarrassing reading books that people read in high school in America for the first time.
What’s your favorite Britishism?
When you say that you can’t do “X” for toffee—I would say, “I can’t dance for toffee,” or something like that. Even if someone gave you this enticing gift of toffee, you still wouldn’t be able to do it.