1 February 2011

Fr H is furious yet again

I recently listened on the Steam Wireless to some daft woman who's got an exhibition opening at the Tate. She appeared to me to be incapable of opening her mouth without imparting misinformation. I give the gist of her meanderings as I remember them, with my own bracketed comments in italic.

"I collect Holy Water [since she asserts this about herself, I am inclined to give it some credence; although in view of what follows, you may think I am over-credulous]; you get Holy Wells wherever there is Celtic influence [you get Holy Wells all over the place; and, in any case, the whole idea of the 'Celtic' is regarded as extremely questionable in the eyes of a lot of modern scholarship] which were originally associated with a Mother Goddess before being Christianised [I myself know of no evidence for this popular old fantasy]; for example, at Lourdes you can still buy bottles of Holy Water [where in Lourdes can you do this? I saw not a shred of evidence of it. There are a number of rather ordinary taps where you can help yourself to shrine water free of charge; I picked up a discarded plastic mineral water bottle off the ground, gave it a good wash and rinse under the tap, and filled it with Lourdes water which I brought home and subsequently used for the Asperges on Assumption Day. I never paid anybody so much as a Eurocent for it.]".

How is it that Christians, of all people, are suspected of credulity and superstition? It often seems to me that, in a world of twaddle, we Christians are the only folk around who test facts, attempt to be accurate, and try to apply the canons of elementary logic.


Unknown said...

The bottles of water may be a confusion about buying empty bottles labelled "holy water" - mayn't it?

Anonymous said...

Oh, the old "everything is a pagan survival" argument. It gets slapped on everything without any regard for evidence. Apparently, in these people's minds, the 1500 years or so of Christianity in the British Isles couldn't actually produce any traditions!

(The whole idea of a Mother Goddess in the sense neopagans use it -- that is, as a formerly *preeminent* deity (displaced by the rise of patriarchy, in a lot of tellings) rather than just 'a goddess associated with motherhood' -- is pretty baseless, too.)

The thing is that a huge amount of neopaganism is based on nutty late 19th-early 20th century pseudo-scholarship (Margaret Murray, Robert Graves...) rather than actual pre-Christian religion.

Sean said...

The b-movie catechism addresses this point quite well: http://b-moviecat.blogspot.com/2008/05/outtakes_15.html

Anonymous said...

There are Catholic priests nowadays who blithely insist that Hallowe'en is pagan, and others who can't decide whether it's pagan or Protestant (when they're not warning their congregations about the dangers of Jansenism).

What is one to do?

Joshua said...

I love that word "twaddle".

Adrian said...

Only this afternoon I was in a well-known (and very tall) Brighton church where I was asked to explain the 'secret' reason why the church was built to the dimensions of the Ark (if indeed it was, which I do not know is the case). Some arcane gnosis was evidently expected. My explanation that Fr Wagner wanted to give the railway workers who lived in this slummy part of town a church that was much grander than those available for the nobs, that there were no pew rents, that there is no screen between the nave and the altar so nobody can feel excluded etc etc, fell on deaf ears. It must 'mean' something - yes it does, which is that God loves everyone, which is why we keep the doors open every day - but my interlocutor departed obviously convinced that I was concealing information only available to initiates.
But one cannot be surprised when much of the public's understanding of religion is based on things like 'The Da Vinci Code'.

tubbs said...

Strange Bedfellows: New-Agers and Christian Fundametalists both love all that cockamaney ersatz-anthropology from the turn of the last century.
Why? - because they think it all makes wonderful ammo against the Church

Bryan said...

I recall walking into a class a few minutes late and being asked what was in the bottle I was holding.

"Oh some Holy Water!" I replied.

"Blessed a tap then?" was the Mathmo's answer.