Sunday, February 07, 2010

Where Everybody is Somebody . . .


I was in Worcester, Massachusetts the other day, and I drove by a store-front Christian church of an apparently Pentecostal sort. The sign announced it to be a place "where Jesus makes everybody somebody." I have to say, I liked the sign and a little involuntary prayer of gratitude arose on behalf of the people who, in their own way, serve Christ in that place.

For a more sophisticated version of that same sentiment, here is what the young Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote in the year of his entry into the Catholic Church to his friend Ernest Coleridge, Samuel Taylor Coleridge's grandson: "I think that the trivialness of life is, and personally to each one, ought to be seen to be, done away with by the Incarnation."

For what it's worth, Hopkins wrote to that same friend:
Beware of doing what I once thought I could do, adopt an enlightened Christianity ... This fatal state of mind leads to infidelity, if consistently and logically developed. The great aid to belief and object of belief is the doctrine of the Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. Religion without that is sombre, dangerous, illogical, with what it is -- not to speak of its grand consistency and certainty -- loveable. Hold that and you will gain all Catholic truth.
Quoted: Lucy Beckett, "In the Light of Christ"


Athos said...

The trouble with this, as you have echoed Girard with such regularity is that the Gospel breaks down the distinctions raised up to fend off sacred violence, Gil.

Or, as W. S. Gilbert says it in The Gondoliers,, "When everyone is somebody then no one's anybody."

Then the hard work begins: love, forgive, love, rinse, repeat...

Robert Mooney said...

I don't think Gilbert is saying some must not be afforded human dignity or we all will not have it. So, his quote must be taken out of the context of basic human dignity. What the sign undoubtedly meant is that they wish and strive for is for everyone to be afforded human dignity. And to those of us reasonably humble, that is as much, and as little, of somebody we should hope to be.

Athos said...

Hi Robert. I was speaking of William S. Gilbert, librettist of the team Gilbert and Sullivan, who meant exactly what this quotation says; namely, when social equality occurs, then "no one is anybody" as in possessing more prestige than anyone else.

In mimetic theory view of traditional societies with their basis in founding violence, perfect equality is a recipe for disaster in the form of what Girard calls the "crisis of distinctions." Best