This will be my last comment on my F-bomb post from last week.
Over 4000 hits in 3 days (my usual daily count is 60), over a hundred emails, and even a mention on a national Catholic radio show. Unexpected and wild, and mostly due to newadvent.org kindly posting it on their home page.
The responses were mostly either highly supportive and mildly critical, with a few filled with, ironically, profusions of profanities! In some e-exchanges, we wrangled over important nuances like blasphemy (abuse of holy words) vs. profanity; we conversed about the fact that most profanity draws its shock-value from the profanation of the sacred, the verbally violent stripping bare of private parts of the body, the ir-revering of reverence, the degrading-trivialization of sexuality, doing violence to the distinction made within a culture between the sacred and the profane while seeking to slaughter the sacred cows for the sake of an emphatic effect; we argued over what constitutes sin and what does not; we shared insights over how one might sanitize the habitually vulgar tongue; we exchanged interesting facts about the cultural history of vulgar language; and once I was even taken to task for not highlighting the very relevant James chapter 3!
Though I was unable to respond to the vast majority of comments, I found them very interesting and informative.
As I was praying over this menagerie of responses, one phrase came to me, seemingly from the Lord, and in this case was specifically addressed to men: ‘What I desire are Christian gentlemen.’
A Christian gentleman. Blessed John Henry Newman, in his Idea of a University, described the Christian gentleman as possessing ‘a cultivated intellect, a delicate taste, a candid, equitable, dispassionate mind, with a noble and courteous bearing in the conduct of life.’
I might add that as a father, I have striven with my wife to raise Christian gentlemen whose manner of life, thought and speech could be described by Newman as noble. By Christ as noble. The same goes for our daughters, to be Christian ladies.
So, my next step will be (God willing!) in the next year to write, and seek to publish, an article on the question of profanity as it relates to Christian formation and education, especially in Catholic schools. My special passion for this topic grew out of my love for my children, my desire to hand on to them what is best, most noble, most susceptible to Christ.
Okay, I’m done now.