Friday, July 08, 2005

A Busy Day

I spent a large part of today attending a funeral for my next door neighbour, who was staunchly Roman Catholic. I didn't feel comfortable in the service because 90% of it was read in Latin (as per his wishes). I know the odd word here and there, but not enough to follow properly. I was also made uncomfortable by the fact that the priest conducted large segments of the service facing away from the congregation. There was no sense of empathy, it all seemed quite cold to me. It was very different to my experiences of services during my time at Roman Catholic schools. I refused to sing some of the hymns, because I didn't agree with some of the theology in them. There was one weird hymn that had a verse about reclaiming England, it could just have been about revival but the context seemed a little too anti-protestant to me. The priest taking the service spoke a lot about purgatory, and I had to point out to my own parents (sigh), that Anglicans don't believe in that as it's not in scripture. I also had to point out that we don't subscribe to transubstantiation of the bread and wine.

Back to the use of Latin, it brought home to me the fact I have strong beliefs about language. I believe language should serve the people, not people serve the language. All these purists who seek to exclude new words from the dictionary because it corrupts "true English", I feel are quite snobbish. The dictionary was originally created to catalogue the words the British were using, to enable people to enhance their vocabulary. It's not like the Bible. It isn't heresy to add new bits to the English language.

The simple truth is that language evolves and modifies/improves our breadth of description for something we want to express. Take love for example. In the New Testament, there are three words for love... each with a different level of emphasis. We need to be aware of it went talking on the subject, otherwise we risk speaking inadequately through our lack of comprehension.

I disapprove of church services and public scripture readings where the common tongue of the congregation is not used. It hampers access to God's wisdom (which is of course exactly what it was intended to do in the middle ages, if you couldn't understand God's will through his word, you were at the mercy of clergy and rich people who were the only ones educated enough to understand it).

On another subject, my sister has developed yet another pulmonary embolism (blood clot). She's OK, I picked her up from diagnosis at the hospital and took her home. Her boyfriend is coming up from London tomorrow, so he can keep her in check. I'm now the only person in my immediate family who does not have some kind of problem with my circulatory system. My father has a heart condition, my mother has high blood pressure and my sister is a clot!

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