Sorry folks. I’ve been UA for most of the last two or three days. I had my 71st birthday during that time (on Halloween, no less!), and did a lot of jiggery-pokery with my computer, which is now up and running again with both Windows 7 and 8 in good order. Windows 8 is not compatible with all my programs, so, in order to keep them, as I wish to, I have to run both operating systems. Windows 8 is certainly faster, and has some nice features. It has been suggested to me that using a program to give me the Windows 7 experience in Windows 8 is like keeping training wheels on a bike. Well, perhaps, but then, I don’t find the Windows 8 interface as productive, even if it is functional. And it’s mainly just ugly, so I see no reason to put that excrescence on my desktop. But that’s just me. Samsung, apparently, is offering a similar interface change on all their laptops. Perhaps Samsung knows something Microsoft doesn’t. Anyway, everything is functional once again, and I am back on track.
The odium theologicum is, literally speaking, theological hatred. Referring to the Arian dispute in the early church, at the point where Athanasius (the Patriarch or Pope of Alexandria, who, of course, was later rehabilitated, and is now, amongst theologians, regarded as the main architect of Christian orthodox teaching regarding the nature of the incarnation), having been found by councils of the church in Milan and Arles, guilty of heresy, and sent by the emperor into exile, Gibbon, in his great history, says with cool wit:
The ingenious malice of their enemies had deprived them of the benefit of mutual comfort and advice, separated those illustrious exiles [for more prelates than Athanasius refused to sign the Arian protocols] into distant provinces, and carefully selected the most barbarous tracts of a great empire. Yet they soon experienced that the deserts of Libya, and the most barbarous tracts of Cappadocia, were less inhospitable than the residence of those cities in which an Arian bishop could satiate, without restraint, the exquisite rancour of theological hatred. [Decline and Fall, chapter 21]
The closing expression, “the exquisite rancour of theological hatred,” occurred to me as I watched a debate between Bill Donahue and Christopher Hitchens (which begins with this clip). (It starts off a bit unpromisingly, but after the priest moderator makes a few signs of the cross and offers a quick prayer, and then gives a long introduction in which he suggests that debates and universities were a Catholic invention, and were in any case at home in a Catholic context, we get into the real meat and potatoes of the debate, and then it becomes clear that Donahue had no intention to debate at all. Talk about odium theologicum! Bill Donahue is a nasty tempered, nasty minded, abusive bully. Why anyone should have thought it promising to put this rather abusive person into a debate is hard to fathom, yet he does express well the rancour of theological hatred. Whether it measures up to Gibbons’ “exquisite rancour” may be doubted. Here’s an example of his rebarbative style:
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It’s not, by the way, Catholics for Free Choice, it’s Catholics for Choice, and, not to put too fine a point on it, the truth seems to be that, Vatican condemnation or not, many if not most Catholics in the United States are opposed to some fundamental Catholic principles, such as the absolute prohibition of abortion. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is, according to Wikipedia, “a charity, protest, and street performance organization that uses drag and religious imagery to call attention to sexual intolerance and satirize issues of gender and morality.” It had its origins during the AIDS crisis in the late seventies, and, quoting further from Wikipedia:
The Sisters have grown throughout the U.S. and are currently organized as an international network of orders, which are mostly non-profit charity organizations that raise money for AIDS, LGBT-related causes, and mainstream community service organizations, while promoting safer sex and educating others about the harmful effects of drug use and other risky behaviors. In San Francisco alone where they continue to be the most active, between 1979 and 2007 the Sisters are credited with raising over $1 million for various causes.
Although their existence may be seen as an implicit criticism of the Roman Catholic Church’s stance on gay sexuality, its main purpose is clearly empowerment and charity. A narrow-minded idiot like Bill Donahue may find this anti-Catholic, which no doubt is a part of its métier, but people like Donahue should not forget that the church brings this kind of opprobrium upon itself by taking such a hard-line in condemning all forms of sexuality besides its strictly reproductive uses. To say that the Order of Perpetual Indulgence (another name for the same thing) is anti-Catholic is perhaps not altogether false, but it is to tell only one side of the story. Of course, Hitchens rather tellingly goes on to point out that the Jesus of Matthew told his followers that those are blessed who are persecuted for his sake, so that Bill Donahue should thank his critics rather than condemn them. But for someone like Donahue to complain about anti-Catholicism when his own abusiveness seems to know no reasonable limit is to fall at the first fence.