Monday, March 19, 2007

Catholic is as Catholic does

Victorian novelists must stick together, that's only right.

And so it is that I have found the illumination of one Victorian novelist in the works of another.

Whenever the graceful opus of the Swan of Newark is discussed, perplexity arises over the opening biographical comment on her home page: "I am a passionate radical Orthodox, Anglo-Catholic with a joyful Evangelical spirit." How on earth, ask these wonderers, can the word "Catholic" possibly apply here? Is not everything about the Lady Novelist contradictory to that term, starting with her profession?

I have discovered the key to this mystery.

Gerald Augustinus, at The Cafeteria Is Closed posted a story last week about the Catholic Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, refusing to allow the New Ways Ministry, a pro-homosexual activist group, to celebrate mass in the churches of his diocese. The story is interesting in itself, not least for the typical conspiracy-mongering rife among these Catholic moles. But my moment of enlightenment came when I read this quote:
Flynn's decision "is a betrayal of the core of our Catholic faith," Bayly said. "The church should be big and wide to support diverse opinions. For God's sake, it's Catholic — it's universal."
So THAT's what they mean by "Catholic" - a fecal stew of every poisonous idiocy known to man! And this is where Charles Dickens comes in. My mind flew instantly to that wonderful passage in the first chapter of "The Pickwick Papers":
Mr. BLOTTON would only say then, that he repelled the hon. gent.'s false and scurrilous accusation, with profound contempt. (Great cheering.) The hon. gent. was a humbug. (Immense confusion, and loud cries of "Chair," and "Order.")

Mr. A. SNODGRASS rose to order. He threw himself upon the chair. (Hear.) He wished to know whether this disgraceful contest between two members of that club should be allowed to continue. (Hear, hear.)

The CHAIRMAN was quite sure the hon. Pickwickian would withdraw the expression he had just made use of.

Mr. BLOTTON, with all possible respect for the chair, was quite sure he would not.

The CHAIRMAN felt it his imperative duty to demand of the honourable gentleman, whether he had used the expression which had just escaped him in a common sense.

Mr. BLOTTON had no hesitation in saying that he had not--he had used the word in its Pickwickian sense. (Hear, hear.) He was bound to acknowledge that personally, he entertained the highest regard and esteem for the honourable gentleman; he had merely considered him a humbug in a Pickwickian point of view. (Hear, hear.)

Mr. PICKWICK felt much gratified by the fair, candid, and full explanation of his honourable friend. He begged it to be at once understood, that his own observations had been merely intended to bear a Pickwickian construction. (Cheers.)
So now we know. Heretics are Catholics in the Pickwickian sense of the word.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,' it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.'

Thus, in our voyage through the looking glass, a screeching heretic welded to every Scripture-annihilating fad ginned up by the Haight-Ashbury herd for the past 40 years can call herself a "radical orthodox Anglo-Catholic."

Jeffersonian

12:31 am  
Anonymous Todd Granger said...

I think I'm actually more bemused by the "radical orthodox" bit.

4:39 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

The word combinations are starting to all blend together for me, to the point where they have almost no meaning. It's like modern movie titles; they all sound the same to me, because you just combine tough-sounding nouns and adjectives to get:

Sudden Impact!
Final Mission!
Basic Instinct!
Total Victor!
Utter Conquest!

etc.

So you can just do the same with religious words: Radical Orthodox; Progressive Evangelical; Catholic Fundamentalist; Ecumenical Pelagianism...make up your own.

8:14 pm  

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