Perhaps I’m getting too big for my intellectual britches here, but everywhere I look I see all sorts of poor habits abounding in the realm of scholarly discourse. I mean, I know I’m not really an “anybody” as far as the study of history goes, but I’ve focused on how historians can go wrong, virtually from the beginning of the program. We’ve looked at the pitfalls, we’ve examined the bad habits, and we’ve definitely spent lots of time discovering just how awful amateur history can really be.
So, the historian is easy prey for a whole litany of dangerous errors. How much more so is the casual scholar (God forbid, one with an “education”) who doesn’t have a flaming clue as to how dumb they make themselves sound by utterly failing to properly contextualize their arguments. For example, saying “The Church Killed People in the Inquisition for Religious Reasons” and “Hitler Killed People in the Holocaust for Religious Reasons” are both sloppy statements. Both are a tiny bit true. Both are easily misused. And BOTH could be used properly and without error if you just took the time to drag a little bit of context out of the historical closet and use it alongside the original statement.
But alas. This takes time. This requires effort. And (worst of all!) this might actually unearth information that makes your point invalid. Dreadful.
Anyway, the latest mild irritant is all the fuss about the Royal Wedding, and (more to the point) all the fuss about the fuss about the Royal Wedding. Myriad Catholics on the web, all a-twit at our disgusting preoccupation with (a) the Monarch of another realm, and (b) anything that doesn’t have to do with the economy, planned parenthood, vaccinations, or Ron Paul.
“Hey, didn’t we fight a war to get rid of a King?” “Stupid Americans. So easily distracted by shiny things.” Well, yes, doofus. If it’s that simple to you, sure. We did fight a war for that one single solitary reason. [Cue above discourse on the need for context, and the dangers of anachronism.] But did we fight a war to get rid of pageantry, of decorum, of tradition, of nods to heritage? Um, no. If we did, then it’s time to wage a fantastic war against the Papal Tiara, vestments, incense, polyphony, lingua latina, and all sorts of other traditions, ceremony, and pageantry.
For goodness’ sake, people. Lighten up. Let America enjoy her TV time, enjoy the inspirational spectacle of “two young people standing up at the altar” (thanks, Cait) for what it’s worth. Stop naysaying the poor things on their wedding day! That’s tacky! And stop naysaying the simple Americans whose hearts are drawn to the glamorous and dignified.
Silly Catholics. Cranky as always.