Monday, April 13, 2009

Religous ignorance

Terry Mattingly wrote an essay, in which he concluded, that ‘secular’ journalists are not so much anti-religious as lacking a religious vocabulary, and, therefore, understanding. This observation, I also, note regularly. To-day, I read a foto caption where someone wrote, that the eight point star symbolizes Jesus’ Resurrection eight days after His death. Now, the obvious error is, that, he rose on the third day (which was the eight day of the week, Sunday; especially, when one thinks of Holy Week which began on Palm Sunday). The week begins on a sunday, the seventh day is saturday, therefore, the eight day, must be, sunday. This is why baptistries are often eight sided, and baptism is a birth to a new life, a victory over death. The paschal vigil mass repeats baptismal vows for all, and often people are baptised at this mass. Also, the church celebrates octave days, e.g., the 1st of January is the octave of the Nativity. So, the phrase--sunday is the eight day, has a great texture and context, that many do not, and cannot be expected to comprehend. So, often it is not disbelief, but incomprehension, that is the answer. Ignorance is more prevalent than malice.

Also it is not only, so called ‘secular’ ignorance, there is also inter-denominational ignorance. I remember reading an essay, by a protestant professor of an extremely ‘conservative’ school, trying to explain Saint Francis of Asissi as an alter Christi, another Christ. There is more than one way to understand ‘another’. The catholic, and contextually correct, way is as an exemplar in apostleship and manner in the following of Christ. Saint Francis ‘Il Poverello’ was christlike in behavior, mode and thought. We should also be. An incorrect interpretation of ‘another’ is substitute, and you can imagine how ill that can be used.

Some of this is definition of terms. In arguments, dictating the definition of terms is half the contest won before it starts. Now, in western civilisation the standard is to the one that has continuity, and original usage. In religion, that would fall to catholicism. In non-specific writing and conversation, the general definition, the standard is the catholic definition; it is the non-catholic use, that needs to be specified (of course, when two of the same sectarians are talking, they are using common formulæ); after-all, catholic means universal.

A little more than a fortnight ago, Mrs. Clinton, on a state visit, went to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Mrs. Clinton is noted to be very attached to her Methodist faith, she is a highly educated person. The tilma was lowered for her to see closely, the rector was with her. She did not know what she was viewing, “who painted it?” Now, the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe on the tilma, is a relic of the class, that the orthodox, often, call ‘not made by human hands’. In the last sentence, there are several items of vocabulary that need to be understood, in order, that the sentence is to be understood as intended.

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