A great quote

To tell the priest to throw away theology and impress us with his personality, is exactly like telling the doctor to throw away physiology and merely hypnotize us with his glittering eye.

G.K. Chesterton

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Imrahil says:


  2. The Cobbler says:

    An interesting comment given the image of the Church as a field hospital.

    I’ve been thinking about that image a lot since the synod, frankly. Augustine famously pointed out that a surgeon doesn’t stop cutting when the patient screams at him to stop. Of course, these days we have significantly more advanced anesthetics. But then again, we also have TV shows that show you the consequences of sloppy doctors — take Firefly, for instance.

    For those who haven’t seen Firefly, there’s an episode where Simon and River — both wanted fugitives since Simon, the gifted doctor, has broken out his even more genius little sister, River, from a government “school” where scientists were experimenting on River’s brain — break into a hospital to get a sci-fi scan of River’s brain. As they’re walking through one of the hospital rooms River starts to act nervous — “I don’t want to die,” she insists.
    “No one’s going to die here,” Simon reassures her.
    Without missing a beat River points at a man lying on an operating table and says, “He is.”
    Simon looks over at the patient and then back at River. “See that man with him? That’s his doctor. He’s helping him get better.”
    River grows adamant: “But he’s helping him the wrong way.”
    Before Simon can reply the monitor beeps and there’s the usual TV-show emergency-room panic with nurses rushing in and out and everyone shouting questions and instructions. Simon hesitates for a moment, but whether to prove a point to his sister or whether because his doctorly habits are hard to break he runs over into the fray. He asks what the patient was given — turns out it was medicine X (not really, but let’s call it that because I don’t remember the sci-fi medical jargon). Simon calls for so many milliliters of medicine Y, administers it to the patient (all the while ignoring profanity and demands to identify himself from the doctor on duty), defibrillates the patient, and the patient goes back to normal. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief.
    Simon demands to know how the doctor on duty justified putting the patient on Z type of medicine. “Medicine X isn’t a Z type of medicine,” the doctor starts to say, but Simon butts in — “Unless you combine it with medicine W, which any first year should have known your patient was taking before his operation.”
    Silence… for just a fleeting moment.
    “Your patient should be dead,” Simon announces finally, and walks off with River; the staff are too shocked to even try to stop them.

    So… if the Church is a field hospital… isn’t that all the more reason why we need doctors with sharp minds who know what they’re doing? I dunno about anyone else, but I can see the little spat at the synod through the lens of “your patient should be dead.”

  3. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    I happened to have spent a lot of time learning physiology and I hope I’m a better doctor than a hypnotist…

  4. Legisperitus says:

    No hypnotists in field hospitals.

  5. Gerard Plourde says:

    Chesterton as always is spot on. I consider myself blessed to have known many Post Vatican II priests who would agree with his observation.

  6. SaintsSQPNcom says:

    a minister impressing with his personality is the reason for the endless schism-ing of the protestant and non-demoninational churches i grew up in and around.

  7. gramma10 says:

    “All that glitters is not gold!”

  8. JonPatrick says:

    To follow this analogy further, I think that the biggest problem today is too many people who don’t know they are sick because the “doctors” (some in the Church) is telling them the cancer inside of them (sin) is nothing to worry about and that they won’t die, instead the state of having cancer (living in sin) is normal and healthy and they should celebrate it.

  9. Matt Robare says:

    Now I know why I was getting sleepy duiring so many homilies.

  10. Sonshine135 says:

    The Cobbler,
    Indeed! A field hospital with Doctors that fail to help bandage and heal the wounds and prescribe appropriate medicine make the hospital pretty much worthless. More than Doctors, I would consider them charlatans or snake-oil salesmen.

  11. Someone please be the Garrigue says:

    What a fine glass eye indeed. Beautifully cut. Swarovski?

  12. THREEHEARTS says:

    “The glittering eye” the rhyme of the ancient mariner I believe

  13. mburn16 says:

    Personality, certainly not. But there is a desperate need for improved preaching capabilities within the church. One of the reasons I beleieve we have seen a decline of the RCC relative to her Protestant sisters is the perception that many megapreachers are far more capable of providing direct instruction to the faithful on how to conduct their lives.

  14. Gaetano says:

    On a related note, I am shocked when people complain about “professionalism” in the clergy.

    When I go the the doctor, I want my doctor to be a professional.
    When I need a lawyer, I want my attorney to be a professional.
    When I plan my retirement, I want my financial planner to be a professional.
    When I fly in an airplane, I want the pilot to be a professional.

    Why wouldn’t I want the same with my priest .

  15. michael says:

    I am now reading Chesterton ‘s book “Heretics” . Just about everything he writes is quotable !

  16. I have to be honest – the trendy priests I meet seem to have almost no personality at all; or a not-very-pleasant one. Plenty of bonhomie on the surface, but if you scratch below that, they turn into bitches really fast.

    The orthodox ones, on the other hand, have personality plus. It might be because they’ve had to fight for what they believe in, of course.

  17. The Cobbler says:

    Philippa Martyr, I suppose using the personality as a sort of stage prop would make the personality itself shallow pretty fast… As Chesterton also said, “Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth thrown in; aim at Earth and you will get niether.”

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