Sunday, September 18, 2005

What next? Set the Nicene Creed to hip hop music?

Sunday, and off I go to a Roman Catholic mass. Totally new experience for me, having been brought up as an Anglican/Evangelical. The only time I had been in a RC church was to attend a funeral mass over ten years ago. Anyway, I was invited to church today by a dear friend, so off I went.

What was I expecting? For starters, I was looking forward to the Latin, but not a bit of it. I shrugged that off. I suppose the Church has to be inclusive, moreso nowadays when it is possible to undergo formal education without learning a single Latin phrase.

Nor was that all. Time came for the Nicene creed. I had learnt it about 20 years ago in my boarding school days, and I had no problem recalling it. I was however brought up short when I discovered that this most poetic of creeds had been 'simplified'.

Some examples: 'very God of very God' has become 'true God of true God'.
'... begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father' has become 'begotten, not made, of one being with the Father'.

No, I am not just making a fuss over nothing. The new wording has not removed anything from the meaning, but I am not happy about the fact that as a society, we feel the need to revise, or 'modernise', everything. I am sure that the modern version of the Creed is being explained as a way to make religion 'accessible' to all. I have no quarrel with that. My response is simply this: instead of simplifying the language and upsetting the beauty of these ancient writings, why not teach people to read and appreciate them for what they are?

As for the Latin, I will rejoice when once again every schoolchild in the land is compelled to learn it. Learn even the most rudimentary Latin, and the building blocks for English grammar fall easily into place. I don't expect this to happen, though. I hear the Latin uptake from school pupils has dropped, even in the independent schools. Will the Government do anything about it for pupils educated by the State? No. And why should it? New Labour is about 'equality', and most of the time, this means levelling down.

That notwithstanding, the mass was great. Short, and to the point. Scripted, but with enough spontaneity to keep one awake. Contrary to what I had heard about RC masses, the Virgin Mary was mentioned only once. I would have liked to take part in the Communion, but unsure of the rules regarding Anglicans etc, I declined.

I learnt something else. The Catholic Missionary Society (CMS) has been 'rebranded'. It is now known as the Catholic Agency to Support Evangelisation (CASE). One wonders what it was about the word 'Missionary' that someone must have found objectionable. Is this a rewriting of that good society's aims, or is it that the word is simply too hard for our nation's children to spell?
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