The opening of a book review for "My Bright Abyss," by Christian Wiman, who, we're told, "does not fall for the sops he sometimes finds in contemporary Christianity, which too often promotes 'a grinning, self-aggrandizing, ironclad kind of happiness that has no truth in it.'"
So, okay, he doesn't "fall for the sops" he sees in people he insults, but does he fall for any sops?
What is a "sop" anyway? The OED tells us "sop" begins as "A piece of bread or the like dipped or steeped in water, wine, etc., before being eaten or cooked." Later, it becomes, as used above, "Something given to appease or pacify the recipient; a bribe." The etymology of the word connects it to "soup."
A "sop" can also be a person: "A dull or foolish fellow; a milksop" or "A person or thing thoroughly soaked or steeped in some way." The OED offers this quote from Shakespeare's "Richard III" : "Chop him into the malmsey But in the next roome... Oh excellent deuice, and make a sop of him."
A rich and sweet wine brought to England from Greece in the 16th century, Malmsey is now produced on the island of Madeira. Shakespeare writes about Malmsey in Love’s Labour’s Lost (5.2.240) and 2 Henry IV (2.1.36), but the most famous reference to Malmsey in all of literature can be found in Richard III, when Richard orders the execution of his brother, the Duke of Clarence. Richard’s hired assassins decide to drown Clarence in a large cask (butt) of the brew. When they arrive at the Tower of London to carry out the task, the unsuspecting Clarence asks for a cup of wine. The Second Murderer offers this ghastly retort: “You shall have wine enough, my lord, anon” (1.4.153).So here's some wine to go with your pizza and hot romance, you inferior, grinning, self-aggrandizing, ironcladdedly happy religionists.