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Agreed about the wacky passage of time, Mac. And at 51 I am apparently young. But 9/11 seems like yesterday, now coming on 17 years ago.

I've lived down here for 15 years and do not recall more than 2-3 days in a row that the temps would be in the 20s. I think we might have had six! It was sort of startling. And those of you up north that laugh at our travails should know that most houses down here are simply not built to keep out air that cold. :)

When I got a British Library reader's pass in the mid-1990s it had "Expires Sept. 2001" stamped on it. That was the first time I'd seen a 21st-century date used in a (relatively) mundane context. It seemed quite surreal. I kept getting it out again to check.

Of course, I grew up with 2000 AD. It's strange that they didn't change the name of that, really.

You're confusing transitive/intransitive with active/passive.

Transitive means that the action moves from the subject to the object, which receives the action of the verb. "The boy throws the ball," as opposed to the intransitive, "The boy is." The intransitive is a state of being.

Those things that worry you are used in the active rather than the passive voice.


Thanks, I had a feeling that wasn't the right term.

Paul, I gather from Wikipedia that it's *still* called 2000AD. That is strange. I suppose sci-fi writers have learned by now not to set a dramatically different future closer than a century or two to the lifetimes of those likely to read it.

For that matter there was a lot of use of "2000" as part of brand names and the like, which look extremely dated now. Perhaps nostalgic for young people.

"I never was very good at learning the rules of grammar, and am only bothered by the mistakes which I don't usually make. One such has been bothering me lately. Isn't it the distinction between "transitive" and "intransitive" verbs that describes whether the subject is doing something or having something done to it? Whatever the correct terminology is, the distinction seems to be breaking down."

I find it ugly and grotesque.

"Feeling great after confession is probably the most widespread experience in Catholicism, a religion not founded on religious experience as such."

I certainly do! I should go tonight, in fact.

"I have a clear memory of sitting in Mrs. Bruce's 6th grade class, which means it was 1959 or '60 and I was eleven or twelve years old, and wondering for the first time (as far as I remember) how old I would be in the year 2000."

I was ten, in 1979 when I decided to calculate how old I would be in 2000. "31! I will never be that old," I thought.

Having been born in 1950, it wasn't too hard of a math problem for me.

Mrs. Bruce taught 5th grade at my children's school--when they went to school.


"Feeling great after confession" - perhaps the one thing before all others that Protestantism was a revolt against.

I grew up with use of singular "they" - everyone used it as an equivalent of "he/she" for an unspecified person, even teachers spoke like that. In some places people even use it for a specified person of quite definite sex, which is confusing. ("I talked to Bob last week, they say hi.") I've yet to hear anyone use it in its politicised gender-bending sense, I've only seen it online; but then I don't hang around social-justice types.

A lot of English verbs have this weird feature that they can be transitive or intransitive, with the object of the former being the subject of the latter: I smell/move/drop/shatter/change a thing, the thing smells/moves/drops/shatters/changes. I'd put "transform" on that list (Optimus Prime transforms into a truck!) but not "display" and "release", which do sound odd; also, Americans use "present" intransitively, which bugs me.

I've grudgingly accepted "they" etc for an unknown individual. It does arise from an actual deficiency in the language. And it has more precedent than I thought when I first heard it. I think someone found an instance in C.S. Lewis. I've used it myself in situations where defaulting to the masculine might have ruffled feathers. So I guess my complaint about the example I gave is as much social as grammatical. But it still *sounds* very wrong to me.

What do you mean about "present"? "The patient presents with high fever"? If that's what you mean I agree, though I've only heard that in a medical context as far as I remember.

Paul, I would have thought the Mass and the Real Presence a little higher on that list. "The blasphemous fable" and all that.

Re: "presents", I've come across it in sex/gender contexts - so-and-so presents as a woman, or a man.

Re: Protestant objections, in Britain and Ireland the Protestants suppressed the Mass quite harshly, but never (that I know of) tried much to suppress Confession. John Knox is reported to have complained about Mary, Queen of Scots, having a Mass in her private chapel, saying he feared a Mass more than ten thousand soldiers. But then, Mary, Queen of Scots, is quoted - by Knox's fans - as fearing Knox's prayers more than ten thousand soldiers. I strongly suspect that one of those quotes is a partisan rewording of the other by people who didn't like their hero(ine) admitting the other side as having spiritual power, but I don't know which one.

I think that use of "present" must have escaped from the clinical world. From the medical to the psychological to the gender-fashionable, maybe. I've never heard it in an everyday context.

For what it's worth, I've more than once heard the "ten thousand soldiers" remark attributed to Knox, but not to Mary.

I'm wondering if the use of "present" in the medical sense isn't derived from a foreign language.

In "The Power and the Glory" there is a very powerful scene where the priest wants desperately to go confession before he is captured, but he is the only faithful priest left. He goes to the home of a man who has renounced his priesthood and is married, and begs him to hear his confession. Things like this make me want to pray for Greene a lot.



I find it disconcerting when Facebook tells me that Paul Arblaster has changed their status.

Robert Gotcher used to change thiers, too, but now he doesn't anymore.


"disconcerting" at minimum. Always makes me cringe a bit. I can't really blame them for doing it, and I suppose in time this kind of thing will become the standard for third-person pronouns. But in the meantime...ouch.

I don't remember that from Power & Glory. The book didn't make all that big an impression on me, I regret to say. Maybe I'll give it another chance sometime.

I don't change our status any more because they aren't on FB.

I need to reread Power & Glory too. Read it many years ago and it made little impression. A friend of mine cites it as a very influential book to him and recently taught it in a class.

The first time I read it didn't make much of an impression on me either, but the second time it was very powerful. I was much younger the first time--probably in my 30s, and I think I re-read it about the time I wrote about Greene for 52 Authors.


Well in defence of Paul, my father used to say that Catholics could commit any crime they liked because they would just go to confession and be absolved. English people used to say that Irish maids would steal because they'd just confess it. But I think this is part of a later, Anglican, social-morality objection to Catholicism. The criticisms that Catholicism makes for bad social morality is not part of the original, volcanic Protestant objections to Catholicism. Even this objection, though, is about the (im)moral effects of Confession, not about 'feeling great' after confession. Luther seemed to object to the sale of indulgences and generally to Catholicism as a system that buys one's way into God's good graces. He believed in the real presence but few of his followers followed him on that. Calvin and the Presbyterians objected to the Mass alright - I think that was their central symbol of the evils of Catholicism. Then I think later as Protestantism degenerated into more of a social morality the objections to Confession started emerging.

I don't know about its presence in the early days of the Reformation ("it" being the objection to confession), but I've heard that bit about confession allowing Catholics to do whatever they want *many* times. I doubt that today's theologically casual Protestant or post-Protestant thinks much about the Real Presence, but he'll still bandy that "fact" around with great confidence.

Catholics and no doubt some Protestants see "once saved always saved" similarly.

My first and only reading of P&G btw was relatively recent, btw. Within the past ten years, maybe the past five. But I read Heart of the Matter forty years ago and remember it pretty well. Not sure whether those observations are more a result of my age or the books themselves.

The Heart of the Matter really got to me. It was painful. I was thinking the other day that it reminded me of Descent into Hell, except that Scobie wasn't self-absorbed like the guy in DiH--just weak.


But End of the Affair was best.


I haven't read it. Yet.

You haven't read Descent into Hell?


End of the Affair

Oh, I know, but sometimes if I tell you something is extremely good, like one of my top ten novels, over and over again for 10 years or so, you will finally read it.


And really like it.


No, if you look at the 95 theses they start off with confession but don't even mention the eucharist.

And the later objection to the Mass was to eucharistic theology, rather than to the eucharist as such – all Protestant churches kept having some sort of eucharist, albeit with a different understanding of it, but almost all abolished confession.

Actually, I did just check, and thesis 83 mentions masses for the dead. But confession still comes before all else.

Ok, I did not know that. That is interesting. Its the whole Catholic 'satisfaction' theory that is under attack by Luther, as symbolized by the practice of confession. Of course everyone knows that Luther kept going to confession and it didn't 'work' for him. But I had no idea he took it out in the 95 Theses.

A woman I know on facebook wrote something about having gone to confession just before Christmas, and as it happened I couldn't go because I'd had foot surgery. So I did a piece on confession. I didn't have any intention of having a go at the Protestants or tweaking their bells or whatever.

I was thinking the "blasphemous fable" remark was from one of Luther's diatribes, but it's not, it's from the 39 Articles, so much later than Luther. I thought I remembered him railing against the Catholic understanding of the Mass but it's been many years since I read him, so I'm probably wrong.

I was referring to eucharistic theology, not to the retaining of some form of the Lord's Supper. Even the anti-sacramental Baptists kept it, though with a very different (to say the least) understanding. I think it was the sacrificial aspect of the Mass that really enraged some of the reformers--that's what the "blasphemous fable" is directed at. If Luther did denounce some aspect of the Mass, that would have been it. It contradicts some fundamentals in his theology.

Some things mattered more to some of the "reformers" than to others, but it is interesting that confession did not survive at all. It would have been easy to get rid of, since there's little direct scriptural justification for it. And its theological challenge (or offense, from their point of view) would have been very much related to the notion of the eucharist as sacrifice.

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