A Response to Mr. Shea


It is with some trepidation that I consider venturing into this nearly sacred area. I know how well Mr. Shea is liked, and indeed, I find his work enlightening and amusing, but occasionally a trifle harsh. This post is one that disturbed me.

Here's a bogus factoid from the article: "Sexual abstinence is nothing new, of course: it is prescribed for Muslims from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan, Roman Catholics during Lent and Orthodox Jews during a woman's menstrual period."

"Of course"? I missed the memo from the Vatican instructing all Catholics to abstain from sex during Lent. Or might it just be that the reporter is yet another ignoramus from the NY Times who heard something once in a college bull session and now repeats it as gospel. Maybe she mistook the movie "40 Days" for the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Now, I do not claim to be an expert on Church history, nor on all the practices of the Church; however, it seems from all the medieval history I've read that abstinence during lent included abstinence from sex. It is a key theme in the Kristinlavransdatter series. Yes, I know it is medieval times, but I do not know whether the practice continued until the present day in remote areas or what Catholic teaching pre- and post-Vatican II may have been. However, I do wish to acknowledge that at one time this may have been common practice even it not church teaching.

The reporter certainly needs to update her records if she is reporting medieval cultural practice as modern church teaching, but I shy away from the language used to describe the reporter. Even if true, it is hardly charitable unless said directly to her face with the hope of correcting the dismaying trend observed by Mr. Shea. Didn't Jesus say something about calling thy Brother "Racha! Thou fool." I tend to take that admonition very seriously as I spend a goodly portion of each of my days being a fool, I don't know that I'd like to have it identified every time it happened. I haven't achieved that pinnacle of humility yet.

[Later note: The ever-courteous Mr. Shea stopped by and helped me to significantly improve the post above. He truly is an apologist and a gentleman. I mean that seriously, thank you, Mr. Shea.

Please visit and read Mr. Shea's very funny and very gracious revision of aforementioned post.]

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on August 20, 2002 5:32 PM.

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