Egalitarianism in the Hierarchy
“The nonchalantly polite but nevertheless free interclass manners in the Catholic world are the natural consequence of a conventional (nonideological) egalitarianism, based on the profound knowledge that our final status–on the other side of the grave–will be basically different from our present one. Furthermore, because of the human fact that we are all images of God and potential saints (not excluding sinners like the young Augustine or Maria Magdalena), it follows that Catholics, grown up in a Catholic culture, pay reverence to everybody regardless of his color, class, and publicly manifested morality.”
The summed-up Catholic lesson in this passage: Don’t dis’ the guy who might be in a position to lobby to keep you on the right side of the Styx.
I’m hardly in a position to question KL on the idea that people in a truly Catholic culture, which tends to be hierarchical, recognize their fundamental equality, but I can never forget reading about the atrocities that the Portuguese explorers (all Catholic) committed against native peoples. This passage from David Landes’ The Wealth and Poverty of Nations stands out in my memory: “Vicente Sodre flogged the chief Muslim merchant at Cannanore (Malabar coast) until he fainted, then stuffed his mouth with excrement and covered it with a slab of pork to make sure he ate the filth.”
I realize, of course, that the atrocities committed by a handful of sailors from Portugal don’t impugn the entire Catholic culture of Europe. It’s also safe to assume that the sailing life attracted the roguish element. Still, just Mel Gibson’s conduct is an embarrassment for the entire Church, the actions of these handful of Catholic sailors is a shameful pox on Catholic culture.
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