The estimable translator and teacher Anthony Esolen has a wickedly biting commentary piece at Crisis today. Read it in the context of controversy over the upcoming Synod on the Family in October, namely, there are those who suggest that Christ didn’t really mean what Scripture says he said about adultery.
A Modern Translation
The Church, I’ve been hearing, has to change, if she is going to have any leverage with men and women of our time. What that means, of course, is that they would like a sexual permission slip. It’s the only thing they care about. What’s it to them, after all, if the Church does not change her teachings, even if she could? They don’t obey them anyway.
But perhaps they are setting their revisionary sights too low. Why change the Bride of Christ, when you might as well go for Christ Himself? Why trick out the bride in lingerie from Astarte’s Secret, you can put new words on the lips of the bridegroom, or give him a new interest?
The Lord says that He comes not to abolish the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them. He is the true and only agent of moral evolution. He reveals the truth that had lain hidden in the shadows, or encrusted with local or tribal customs. He is the refining fire, making ore into gold. So His teachings stretch our dust to infinity.
So we need a Jesus who will fit; a god we can put in the cave to stay. I translate His words accordingly:
“You have heard me say, let your yes be yes and your no be no. What’s the use? Consider the clods of the earth, how they crumble. Are not your words worth less than they? Be content with maybe. Say what you will, to make your days comfortable, because they are few, and they will pass.”
“You have heard me say, he who will not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. What’s the use? I accomplished nothing on the cross. I have no baptism of fire for refining the earth. Don’t bother. Be not too eager to cause other people to suffer, but at the same time be not too eager to expose yourself to suffering.”
“Blessed are the modestly well off, for theirs are the good schools and the suburbs.”
“Blessed are they who chuckle, for they need not give a damn.”
“Blessed are they who believe in themselves, for they shall cover the earth.”
“Blessed are they who scoff at righteousness, for they shall be less than hypocrites.”
“Blessed are the indifferent, for they shall be left alone.”
“Blessed are the sly of heart, for they shall see porn.”
“Blessed are the compromisers, for they shall win elections.”
“Blessed are they who persecute the righteous, for they shall be called the children of God.”
There’s more of this amusing but mind-chewing stuff which you can read over there.
Fr. Z kudos.
You might recall that he wrote the piece How to kill vocations – Feminize everything! with which he scored a direct hit.
Also, check out his translation of the Divine Comedy, one of the most important things every penned by man. If you have read Dante then… well…. pffffft.
You could start with Esolen (Part 1, Inferno HERE) or perhaps with Dorothy Sayer’s fine version (Part 1, Inferno, HERE). There are many renderings to choose from. I would very much like to teach on Dante someday. Maybe it’ll happen.
When you make the excellent choice to read the Divine Comedy, here are a couple tips. First and foremost, make the decision that you will read the whole thing. Don’t read just the Inferno. The really great stuff comes in Purgatorio and Paradiso. Also, read through a canto to get the line of thought and story and then go back over it looking at the notes in your edition. Sayers has good notes. Dante was, I think, the last guy who knew everything. Each Canto is dense with references. You will need notes to help with the history, philosophy, cosmology, poetic theory, politics, theology, etc.
In any event, Esolen did a good job.