Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Required Red Romanist Rephrasing

Jonathan Prejean of the Crimson Catholic blog, states at a certain message board:

For example, the Pedantic Protestant and I actually framed the difference between how Protestants and Catholics treat Scripture with a relatively simple question "If God inspired your grocery list, would you be looking for some deeper meaning?" My answer was something to the effect of: Heck, yeah! I would certainly be wondering why he said "corn" and not "peas," or "single-roll Charmin" rather than "double-roll." We couldn't be farther apart on that issue, but he's not trying to say that I'm "inconsistent" for saying so, because in point of fact, it's not inconsistent to do so.

I too would certainly wonder about why God chose corn and not peas, say, or floral print triple-ply Charmin versus, say, two-ply Scotts with Sani-safe fragrancing. That's only natural.

However, these what-ifs and whys don't determine my exegesis of what a document actually says, nor do I let the what-ifs override whatever indications of authorial intent exist in a document. We go by what is there, not by what-isn't-there-but-possibly-maybe-coulda-been-there, nor by what-isn't-clearly-there-but-according-to-my-church-exists-just-maybe-in-seed-form. Nor do I allow human interpreters to get away with claiming that the meaning of the text somehow evolves or changes over time. Uninspired people can't and shouldn't play these games. So, just to be clear here, I'm not saying it is logically inconsistent [here Prejean is correct in stating my position], but I will say that it leads to an uncontrollable process of playing games with the text.

Stating this just to be sure: I would let the wording of the list and its meaning stand as it is --- it is a fixed document given in a fixed situation at a fixed time. That the ultimate author of the shopping list is God [instead of Mrs Prejean, say] doesn't change anything in my eyes. To reinterpret the divinely inspired shopping list centuries later [for purposes of a "deeper meaning"], developing [say] a doctrine of three-ply toilet paper's sacramental qualities and claiming support for it by appealing to the shopping list [which merely stated "Thou shalt pick up a 12-roll pak of Charmin triple ply"] is, in my eyes, a complete abuse of the text, treating it like Play-Doh to be molded into whatever one wishes. If the shopping list had some clear indicator that the text was somehow "more than" a shopping list, then perhaps one could strain after other interpretations in due time. But, absent such an indicator, I let the document "stand as it is." This is why I don't find the modern papacy-as-it-exists-today [or even the papacy of yore] in "You are Peter and on this rock etc [yawn!]," say, chalking it up [according to how I see it] as another one of the various figments of the Roman Catholic imagination that poses as a scripturally sound doctrine.

So, for the record, that's the difference between what Prejean seems to think I said and what I actually said [or intended to say if I wasn't clear]. Again, perhaps I wasn't clear. On the other hand, perhaps I was clear and Prejean is consistently applying Prejeanian principles of interpretation to my original statement and reinterpreting my original statement past its original intent in a quest for deeper meaning, as my original statement was, beyond any possible shadow of doubt, clearly divinely inspired!!


Blogger CrimsonCatholic said...

I beg your pardon for any perceived reinterpretation, but I didn't mean to imply anything other that what you just said. I certainly didn't mean to say that you conceded the legitimacy of my position, only that you understood what it was. People who wish to disagree *after* correctly understanding the position are not objectionable to me. I'm perfectly happy to concede what my position is, but it would make no sense for me to admit to holding a position I don't even hold, nor would it make sense for me to concede an interpretation I don't share. I'm not citing you as an example of someone who supports my position; I'm citing you as an example of someone who doesn't misrepresent it.

Dialogue is possible, but not when someone is insistent on hanging a nasty label on his opponent based on some "admission" or "necessary consequence." Thoughtful people rarely hold beliefs that are so inconsistent, and this tactic is essentially a sign of contempt for one's opponent. That was my only point.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 9:50:00 AM  
Blogger Pedantic Protestant said...

You mention the concept of "wondering further" on a given issue, and you connect that with thinking about why something that isn't in the text isn't in the text, for example. You follow that with "We couldn't be further apart on that issue." My inner logocentrist inhabiting my inner self takes "I hold X. We couldn't be farther apart on that issue." to mean that I hold ~X. Hence the first brief paragraph of the post.

Since this is a limited medium, I'll state that I was pretty calm while writing the post, and I wasn't angry. The post was merely a corrective, fully allowing for the possibility that I may not have been clear.

And just so that this comment of mine is taken at face value and no further, let me state that it is "me speaking here, not the Lord." [That's two winning quips for this thread.]

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger Pedantic Protestant said...

Just to be sure about tone and such, my comment just given is also intended to be mellow.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger CrimsonCatholic said...

OK, sounds like we're on the same page; I just was worried that I had unintentionally spun the statement in a way that was offensive. If you ain't offended, then I ain't either.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 5:13:00 PM  
Blogger Pedantic Protestant said...

No offense taken. Merely a correction so that [for whatever it is worth] people know that I wonder whatifs and whys and wherefores as well.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 7:05:00 PM  

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