January 15, 2021

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.


  1. Don in Phoenix says

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

    A pandemonium of Pentecostals?

  2. Harvey Mozolak says

    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)

  3. 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!

  4. A deli of deacons.
    A blind of backsliders.

  5. 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.

    • 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.

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

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I always liked a “business of ferrets” and a “skulk of foxes” myself.

  6. 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….

  7. Pastor M says

    A mess of Methodists

  8. cermak_rd says

    A smorgasbord of Minnesotan Lutherans.

  9. A colony of cultural warriors.

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

  11. A fungus of faith-prosperity preachers.

  12. A canker of conservatives.

  13. A pestilence of purpose-drivenness.

  14. A menagerie of mega-churches.

  15. How about an oxymoron to add to the clutch of characteristicis: a humor of hyper-fundamentalists

  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. A bevy of Baptists?
    A clutch of Catholics?
    A myriad of Mennonites?
    An array of Amish?

  18. 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.

  19. A plethora of pastors?

  20. I am amazed and happy no-one has gotten mean-spirited…love that about this site

  21. a convocation of congregationalists

  22. A thump of fundamentalists?

    A silence of Quakers?

    A pub of Lutherans?

    A masquerade of Mega-churches?

  23. cermak_rd says

    To be interfaith here:

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

  24. – A solitary of sacristans.
    – A slumber of Apostles.
    – A puppetry of Presbyterians.

  25. 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.

    • 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.

    • 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!

  26. A cacophony of Calvinists

  27. Pastor M says

    A casserole of caring Christians

  28. a school of theologians

    a siege of feminists

  29. Oodles of Orthodox

  30. Christiane says

    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.


  31. Buford Hollis says

    You can’t decide such things without a minyan.

  32. A suit of Witnesses

  33. A day of young earth creationists (literally)

  34. 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

    • These are all superb. Loved especially the 4th, 5th and sixth. Didn’t get the last two. Help?

      • 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.


    • ATChaffee says

      I don’t get the Adventist ref– might suggest a sabbath of Adventists instead.

  35. Jonathan Blake says

    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)

  36. 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?)

  37. 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 😛

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