Hostility towards religion

It’s odd to me how angry and resentful anti-religious people often seem to be — at least as angry and resentful as religious people often seem to be. What is the source of this compulsion to think of oneself as better than other people? Christians call it the vice of pride. I don’t know what anti-religious people call it.
Here’s a shining example of it, from the LA Times article about the new translation of the Mass. The first paragraph focuses on the Nicene Creed, a prayer which expresses the essential elements of the Catholic Christian faith. Specifically, the reporter is calling attention to the word “consubstantial.” The paragraph reads:

“The word “consubstantial” does not roll naturally off the modern American tongue. It’s one of those $5 words with Latin roots that tend to make the speaker sound pretentious or, if he trips over it, like a pretentious idiot.”

Does this sound sarcastic and demeaning to you?  “pretentious”?  “pretentious idiot”?  How could the LA Times editors possibly allow this kind of sneering in the lead of a news article?  When I first saw these sentences, I assumed this was an op-ed piece, written by someone obviously not on the staff of a professional news organization, but someone who had some real anger issues and a subliminal sense of his or her own irrelevance.  And then I found, not only is this a reporter on the paper’s staff, but he obviously has an editor above him who is either equally bigoted or tone deaf.  Someone needs a serious reprimand, at least.
Here’s an English lesson for the LA Times.  One of the great beauties of the English language is its adaptability.  Flowing from so many sources, it can be fluid in expressing new ideas, or old ideas that need to be re-expressed.  For example, when we started getting daily reports from the surface of Mars (thank you NASA), we started referring to one rotation of the Red Planet as a “sol,” to avoid confusion about which “day” of the mission was being reported (for the non-scientific, a sol on Mars is about 40 minutes longer than an Earth day).  Obviously, sols have been happening on Mars for a long time, but a new word was still needed.
“Consubstantiation” is the same kind the word.  The manner in which Jesus was both human and divine involved, in Catholic theology, a new and unique state of existence.  New things require new words.  Go ahead and sneer at the theology, if that’s what you need to do, but you can’t fault the semantics.  
We are not interested in what the writer of this article thinks about how a Catholic in prayer looks to him.  We don’t like boors, in conversation or in reporting.
So, Dear LA Times reporter:  Keep your lowbrow opinions on the opinion page.  Or better still, keep them private, until you’ve worked out your hostility and discovered when, and how, to express them appropriately.


3 comments on “Hostility towards religion

  1. David L. Durkin says:

    Bravo! If you still lived back here, Glenn, you could mete out the same criticism at The Washington Post. They, like the LA Times, have apparently fired all their editors.

  2. Robin Luckey says:

    Thanks for this, Glenn. The tone of the LA TImes article is very sarcastic. I am amazed that such a tone is widely accepted in critiquing some religious traditions, but would be shunned if the same words were applied to others.
    I am curious about what you think about the new Nicene Creed. My understanding is very limited, but I thought the intention was to be more faithful to the original creed…to further reveal and strive for a more accurate translation. If so, why did the church keep the masculine language for humanity? I was told all of my life that “man” refers to “human.” If so, why has this language not changed?

  3. I don’t know, Robin. All the languages, including Latin, have had different words for “people” and “men” for a long time. I’m no Latinist, alas, but a few quick searches tell me that men are homines, and people are populus. I’m tempted to assume, like most moderns, that people were referred to as “men” because men were the only people that counted. But we moderns tend to be very chauvinistic towards our forebears and to stand convinced of our own superiority in all things, because we are superior in some. So I avoid condemning the fathers. But, God forgive them, they didn’t acknowledge injustice against women, and that’s a fact.
    There’s a long tradition of representing the Blessed Mother and the Infant Jesus in ethnically familiar images. You can find an Ethiopian Madonna and Child, and a Chinese Madonna and Child, and an Inuit Madonna and Child. The message, of course, is that the Lord saves us all. So, when I acknowledge His incarnation in the Creed, I say, “For us, and for our salvation, He came down from heaven.”
    But then, I’m a rebel. When I say the Hail Mary, I say “you” and “your”, instead of “thee” and “thou.” Which is the way I talk to my friends.

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