“Don’t mention the war!” is a wonderful catch phrase from “The Germans” episode of the British television series Fawlty Towers.
John Cleese, playing a concussed and bandaged Basil Fawlty, inadvertently insults a party of German tourists dining at his hotel. Even though he warns his assistant Polly, “don’t mention the War”, he proceeds to do so with each line taking on a sharper tone. The comedy reaches its zenith when Basil gives an impression of Adolf Hitler and goose-steps around the hotel.
The humor in this episode comes from the interplay between the slightly mad Basil Fawlty’s attempts at maintaining bourgeois respectability and his anti-German jokes. The audience knows the mad Basil is the real Basil. Basil’s respectable language is all very well, but reality has a knack of continuing to exist independently of his attempt to bind it through verbal gymnastics.
A recent article in the Oklahoman entitled “State leaders react to new Catholic rite for Anglicans” brought this language game to my mind. Read on one level, the Oklahoman article couples loose reporting with unexamined statements offered by the protagonists. On another level, one where language has precise meanings and history, it comes across as an equal opportunity hit piece — one that can offend Anglicans and Catholics.
Let me show you what I hear in this story.... To read more, click here.
Monday, January 09, 2012
Ordinariate Watch: Is the Catholic Church a denomination?
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 11:50 AM