Contra Spontaneity by Thomas Howard

Contra Spontaneity

Thomas Howard on Christian Ritual

That looks like a grumpy title. What misanthrope among us is against spontaneity, for heaven’s sake? Isn’t spontaneity the very avatar of freshness, joy, freedom, youth, and—well, spontaneity? Who’s the blackguard (pronounced blaggard, I’m sure you know; it’s like ribald, which everyone pronounces ribald and is really ribbled; just a spontaneous little pedagogical parenthesis here)—anyway, who’s the blackguard who is so dyspeptic that he will begrudge us all the very thing that blows like the spring breeze through the fetid miasma of conventionalism?

Yes. Fie. Or sometimes fie. The above paragraph would say what pops into our minds (spontaneously) upon encountering such an unpromising title. Who will quarrel with the sheer laughter that spontaneity brings in its wake? The whole idea behind Candid Camera has always been the glorious reactions of us mortals upon finding ourselves hailed with bizarre situations. For myself, I’d say that 90 percent of their programs have me apoplectic with laughter.

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Thomas Howard taught for many years at St. John's Seminary College, the Roman Catholic seminary of the archdiocese of Boston. Among his many works are the books Christ the Tiger, Evangelical Is Not Enough, Lead Kindly Light, On Being Catholic, and The Secret of New York Revealed, and a videotape series of 13 lectures on "The Treasures of Catholicism" (all from Ignatius Press).

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