Defending the 12th century since the 14th; blogging since the 21st.

Catholicism, Conservatism, the Middle Ages, Opera, and Historical and Literary Objets d'Art blogged by a suburban dad who teaches law and writes stuff.

"Very fun." -- J. Bottum, Editor, FIRST THINGS

"Too modest" -- Elinor Dashwood

"Perhaps the wisest man on the Web" -- Henry Dieterich

"Hat tip: me (but really Cacciaguida)" -- Diana Feygin, Editor, THE YALE FREE PRESS

"You are my sire. You give me confidence to speak. You raise my heart so high that I am no more I." -- Dante

"Fabulous!"-- Warlock D.J. Prod of Didsbury

Who was Cacciaguida? See Dante's PARADISO, Cantos XV, XVI, & XVII.

E-mail me

Tuesday, September 04, 2007
"Intentionally wearing green vestments"

This is all over St. Blog's (I got it from American Papist by way of The Curt Jester), but I couldn't resist, because I have a similar story. Basically, the root story is about how reporters filter everything they see through the small set of ideological stimuli that can fit into their tiny brains.

Over the weekend, Pope Benedict gave a homily to young people that touched on the Church's long-standing teaching on stewardship of creation. Flash: Pope "goes green!" In support of this spin, Reuters noted that the Holy Father was "[i]ntentionally wearing green vestments".

Now, you and I know that green is the standard liturgical color for those parts of the year that are outside the Advent-Christmas and Lent-Easter cycles, those long parts of the year called "ordinary time" in the Ordinary Rite and "after Epiphany" or "after Pentecost" in the Extraordinary. But that's just it, see: you and I know something about the Church, whereas the guy Reuters sends to cover it, or the editor he reports to, doesn't. All he knows is the last week's worth of trends; the last month's, if he's exceptionally well read for his profession.

(In this case, I blame the editor. I note that the reporter is Phil Pulella: I knew him in Rome over twenty years ago. While I suspect he knows and cares more about cardinalatial politics than about vestments, he probably knows better than to submit a side-splitter like this.)

Anyway, here's my analagous tale.

I was in a student production of G&S's TRIAL BY JURY. There were two highly qualified sopranos who auditioned for the one soprano role. One of them was clearly the superior of the two; the other was the conductor's girlfriend. The conductor and the director argued, then came up with a solution: the conductor's girlfriend would get the soprano lead; the role of her attorney, written for a tenor or high baritone, which is a difficult male voice to find among amateurs, would be given to the better soprano. Minor changes in the script could easily be made to reflect the fact that the attorney was now a woman (e.g. "O man of learning" became "O learned woman").

Result: The student newspaper critic called this a "feminist touch." Of course, feminism had nothing to do with it. Quite the opposite: it was a highly stereotypical hairpull between two women and their patrons. But the reviewer, possessing an elite education, had his (or her, I forget) carefully honed set of ideological categories, into which all observed experience had to fit.