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.
--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