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Commonplaces

Piquant excerpts lifted from Touchstone editors' own reading & listening.



If you know what you are saying and believe it to be true, make it clear—and not just to dons, but to everyone. . . . Descent into jargon to give the impression that obscurity is profundity is a temptation indulged not only by ecclesiastics, for it luxuriates in the ivied halls of academia and the labyrinthine corridors of government. But it parades with colorful panache in the Church, and it can bewitch even in English translation. If you make a list of jargonish adjectives and another of jargonish nouns, you are on your way to writing your own neoplastic academic speech, papal audience address, Apostolic Exhortation, or even your own Encyclical. . . .

By switching back and forth, or by occult inspiration, you can construct prophetic sounding platitudes such as: "integrally ecological field hospitals," "planetary coprophagists," "dialectical nominalists," "epochal soap bubbles," "nuanced rigidities," "ontological peripheries," "clericalist paradigms," and "pickle pepper-faced ecological debts." Then you can start crisscrossing: "issue-oriented coprophagists," "paradigmatic consequentialists," "sloth-diseased nominalists," and so forth. You can even describe "planetary field hospitals," "osteoporotic nominalists," "epochal peripheries," and "schizophrenic clericalists." It's fun, and might have been the sort of pastime the late imperial senators in moth-eaten togas engaged in while the Ostrogoths menaced the crumbling Roman walls in the sixth century.

Fr. George W. Rutler
Crisis Magazine, (September 23, 2019)


Education Commonplaces #6 July/August 2020

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