Friday, January 16, 2015

John Bellairs' ST. FIDGETA

So, seeing egregious examples this week of what might be called misapplied theological precision, I was reminded of how the late great John Bellairs* had used this for comic effect. In his first book, ST. FIDGETA & OTHER PARODIES [1966],  Bellairs gently mocked Catholic culture as it was in the old pre-Vatican II days.

Take, for example, the fourth item in this miscellany: The Question Box. Here Bellairs mocks question-and-answer columns from back in the old pre-Vatican II days, with questions such as

Does the olive in the martini break the Lenten fast?

The answer, delivered in suitably authoritative, somewhat officious tones, is that it depends:

Is the olive qua olive part of the martini qua martini?
Or is the olive a substance unto, of, and within itself,
per se in the drink rather than pre accidens?
. . . the last word, as usual, goes to St. Thomas
[Aquinas], who remarks in his Summa Contra Omnes . . . 

More relevant to the misplaced precision theme is the exchange between the woman whose family is freezing because Pope Pius IX denounced central heating as a modern error. The Question Box Moderator replies

You might try electric blankets, 
which Pius IX didn't know about, 
although some theologians claim
that we are bound by what a Pope
is likely to have thought of 
if he had lived long enough

And there, in the idea of our being bound by things a religious leader wd have condemned if he'd thought of them, I think we have the idea of misplaced theological precision in a nutshell.

--John R.
--current e-book: THE NAME OF THE WIND by Patrick Rothfuss (nearly finished! finally!)

*author of one of my alltime favorite novels, THE FACE IN THE FROST [1969]

No comments: