It is inevitable that list members' contemporary religious, political etc. opinions will enter into their comments. I would be willing to affirm their knuckles being rapped _if_ such scoldings were applied across the board. However, I have noted that such is not the case. I tilt at windmills, I know, because any culture, including academic culture, has it's consensus prejudices and those who write from and thus express the consensus prejudices are not even aware of their own prejudices. I do however, recall snide and negative comments about particular political candidates (from the US political party to which studies show that about 8 % of all college and university professors belong) being aired on this list and seconded by several other listmembers without any dissent from listowners or others. I know from past experience that it was worthless for me to demur, so I wrote nothing. But now, one last time, I ask, why is it that it is always presentist beliefs expressed by someone like Br.Alexis that get criticized for being "unrelated" to the purpose of the list whereas clear commitments to one side of feminist or gay or egalitarian/populist or other politically-culturally controversial issues, always, of course (as was the case with Brother Alexis) expressed in passing, go unscolded and even unnoticed? When I have raised this in the past, I have been received surprised responses--what problem? What do you mean unacknowledged presuppositions and prejudices? I suppose it is futile to raise it once more.
The same applies to religious beliefs. George has in the past reminded us that we are not to express "confessional commitments" on the list. But "confessional" seems to be a code word for adherence to traditional Catholic or, very occasionally, traditional Lutheran or Evangelical Protestant views, never a strident commitment to a more liberal religious position or to agnostic or to extreme "hermeneutic of suspicion" presuppositions.
Obviously no easy solution and perhaps no solution at all is possible. I do not doubt that the most fruitfful course is to keep reminding people to stick to the medieval period and to try to avoid as much as possible letting their presentist concerns intrude. But this is fair only so long as it is applied across the board to homosexual, feminist, socialist, conservative, traditionalist, radical, etc. present concerns rather than selectively to those who find themselves swimming against the mainstream of academic culture these days. And let us beware of disguising our presentist prejudices and viewpoints under a "medieval" inqiuriy, e.g., asking when a certain "horrible" position on women or gays or dissent is first noticed in medieval documents. The solution here is quite simple: ask when a certain development began but spare us the throwaway lines, adjectives and adverbs etc. that reveal your presentist positions.
Unless the knuckle-rapping can be applied across the board, then it should be omitted. I have taken this up with one of the list-owners in the past but since it has been raised publicly, I thought I'd make one last tilt at the windmill.
>>> [log in to unmask] 12/28/00 11:10AM >>>
I'm sorry to have to write this to the list, but I feel it is appropriate
given what has been sent recently.
Br Alexis, perhaps you meant to say that in the medieval period it was held
that atheists often came from broken homes, and that belief in God was
somehow primarily linked with a notion of chaste love? If so, please do
share your sources with us. If not, perhaps you would want to reconsider
I beseech all members to recall the simple fact that we are meant to be
discussing medieval religion and culture.
Best wishes from my fellow list owners and me,
From: Br. Alexis Bugnolo
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: 12/28/2000 3:44 PM
Subject: Re: atheism (was: chili peppers)
At 08:06 AM 12/28/00 -0000, you wrote:
In many cases, atheists come from broken or disfunctional homes, where
there were no proper role models for father and mother; and in such
the way out of atheism beings with having truly charitable friends,
they can learn what chaste love is all about.