Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Leaving the Lexicon

Happy Advent!

Advent, the time leading up to Christmas, has become a bit of a hazard these past few years. All the talk about Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays or someother such tripe, Nativity Scene or Nativity Unseen, to shop or not to shop...the list goes on.

Recently, I have been searching out Youtube clips of classic cartoons. These are the ones I remember watching on TV as a child, but would have been seen by a previous generation, or two, on the Big Screen...Steamboat Willy, Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig and many others. I am collecting these for my little fellow to watch, instead of the mind-numbing fare that passes for entertainment these days. Actually, he no longer sees much of that anyway as we disconnected our satellite service last summer.

These cartoons are generally not politically correct on many levels, but some of them are just fun, without attempting social engineering, or some deliberate teaching. So I am weeding out the most violent of the lot, as our son gets rather overstimulated, and letting him enjoy the variety of music, characters, animation (some of which is in...horrors!...black and white!) and energy levels.

One thing I have noticed is how common were religious references in these cartoons whether it is a character saying grace before a meal, or such adaptations as referring to a character "casting his shortnin' bread upon the water" (from "The Whale Who Sang at the Met" pt. 1). The Christmas cartoons often had pictures of people attending church services, and singing real Christmas carols (ie. religious carols!).

Television is nearly devoid of any respectful and/or accurate religious references anymore. Thus goes society. But I think that's been said before.

A couple of years ago, I met a young woman who came to my booth at a local market. She saw my display of Catholic books and came in to share a divine intervention (as she saw it) and ask about prayer.

In talking to this gal, I realized she had no idea what I was referring when I spoke. At all. I asked if she knew the Our Father? Nope. Did she know who Mary was? Nope. I went more basic, and she was still lost. This was a challenge indeed!

My husband and I went to speak to her at her home a short time later. I'm afraid we left them bored and befuddled. We did, however answer her one direct request. When I first met her at my booth, she pointed to a Rosary and said "I want to learn to pray THAT."

I think of her often when I hear about efforts to expunge the last vestiges of public Christianity. I believe that we are developing a language that will have no common reference points, if we haven't already.

Will anyone understand if someone refers to shaking the dust from ones sandals? Going up a mountain? Meeting ones Maker? Casting bread upon the water? The Pearly Gates? Going to Hell? Pearls before swine?

I know there are many others, too.

I think this is posing a huge challenge with regards to evangelisation.

I'm not sure I'm ready!


Philip Gilbert said...

Language evolves. The catholic church is stuck in the mid 1500s. No wonder it is being left behind (along with most other religions). The paedo scandal could really finish it off.

JP said...

Mid 1500s? Yes, that is about right.

Thing is, expunging Christian references in what was built as a Christian country (and this applies both in Catholic built Canada, and Protestant built US) we are dumping a whole lot of history and culture.

We are also dumping truth. Note that I referred to a lack of respectful or accurate comments about religion...I suppose disrespect is one thing... an opinion, but lack of accuracy is a lie. And they abound in the popular media.

You mention the paedo scandal. That is one source of many untruths or partial truths.

Yes, there are sinful clergy. Some are spectacularly sinful. That IS a scandal, as they are, for right or wrong, held to a higher standard. If they were not expected to behave better than anyone else, there would be no scandal.

But the percentage of 'paedo' clergy (which is itself a misnomer and an example of what I am talking about...more later) is no higher than in any other group. Some (non-Catholic) reports have it being lower among Catholics than among other groups http://www.ctlibrary.com/ct/2002/aprilweb-only/4-1-51.0.html

That this is all called a paedophilia scandal is a misnomer. Most of the abuse victims have not been children but pubescent males. This puts a whole new light on the subject which leads into another discussion.

As for numbers? It's somewhat moot. Pope Benedict himself predicted at the beginning of his pontificate that Catholic numbers would fall as we became stronger.

The Church has had many scandals before. We persevere.

I thank you for your comment.

the booklady said...

If the Catholic Church is "stuck" anywhere, it's "stuck" on the Person and Truth of Jesus Christ who is Eternal but did enter human history 2000 years ago.

But actually the Church is as alive, vibrant and relevant today as it's ever been. It is the Living Body of Christ and open to all. As such, it consists (for now) of saints and sinners as Jesus explained in Matt 13:24-30, The Parable of The Wheat and the Weeds: '...if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, "First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn."'

All of us would do well to look to that parable as warning.

Language does evolve Mr. Gilbert. Truth doesn't. 'Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and Life.' John 14:6

JP said...


Unfortunately I cannot publish your most recent comment in its entirety due to some unfortunate word choices on your part.

I would like to address the comment, however.

Pointing out that abuse by clergy was not, technically, paedophilia was not a defence. It was a clarification. The crime is no less heinous because it is not paedophilia. I just wanted to point out what the crime (as usually noted in the media) actually was. The term is Ephebophilia.

God will be merciful to the victims, in either case, I'm sure.

To Booklady you commented:

"Booklady, It would seem that all religions are based on 'The one Truth'. After all, you wouldn't devote yourself to something you thought was a lie. All religions can't be the 'true' one, so someone really does have to be monumentally wrong.

As for the parable, I don't want to go to Heaven. Have you actually considered what eternal life would be like, especially if you knew your loved ones were being spit-roasted in the other place for all eternity? "

My take on this is that you are correct that all 'truths' cannot be correct. But obviously a genuine truth is correct.

As for Heaven...it is a place of perfect happiness. When one is there and notices some absences, God will have figured out a way for this knowledge not to interfere with the happiness.

At any rate, as the alternative to Heaven is Hell, a place completely lacking in pleasure of any sort, I know where I'd want to be.