Dangerous Times

pharisees-n-scribesA popular line of anti-Catholic apologetics centers on our gospel reading. The argument is this: “you Catholics have lost your way. You rely on human traditions and ignore the commandments of God.” Their usual list of Catholic errors includes the veneration of Mary, her Immaculate Conception, and her bodily Assumption into Heaven. There is also transubstantiation, praying to saints, the confessional, penance, purgatory, and more. We might take great offense at their assertions – but it is a reminder that we should always be mindful about losing our way on the journey to God. We do in fact have our Traditions and our traditions.  Lots of Catholics confuse the two. One can easily lose one’s way. Continue reading

Changing language

linguisticsI appreciate the good turn of a phrase, expressions of speech local to a region of the country, knowing the etymological origin of words, and many other things about language and dialogue. And if one lives long enough, one becomes witness to the changes that are ever ongoing. Lexicographers document our changing use of words even as the take on the exact opposite meanings over time – for example, the word “peruse.” Linguists study the domains  of phonology, morphology, and syntax, often complemented by phonetics, semantics, and pragmatics. Grammarians study the structural constraints of  clauses, phrases and words to describe the the ways we use natural language to communication. They helps us recognize the importance of commas – after all there is a difference between “Let’s eat, Grandma” and “Let’s eat Grandma.” Commas save lives. Continue reading