Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Quadragesimo Anno - Fast!

Someone has conducted a poll trying to discover what characteristics convince viewers that a pundit or other public figure is credible. The elevating result? Those who speak fastest are viewed as really knowing their stuff. We got to analyzing this momentous discovery. For starters, there are two ways of imbibing television fare. One is by listening to the content of the message, thus its intelligible meaning. The other is to scan the image for its emotional message. And in the second case, the energized fast-speaker will, of course, look more authentic and certain, never mind what he or she is actually saying.

We went on from there. Used to be, we said. Used to be that with much thought and labor the Pope would prepare a letter to the people, an encyclical, written in Latin, translated into many languages, and passed out. First bishops would read and study it, then priests in even greater numbers, finally some summaries would be presented at Sunday sermons to countless congregations. To pick an example, how about the 1931 Quadragesimo Anno, a letter to the public on “the reconstruction of the public order.”

We got to imagining how vastly improved our lives would be if Pope Pius XI would have memorized what he had written and then, having been trained in passionate fast-speaking, would have speed-orated, dare we say rapped, the whole thing to masses assembled to hear the message in St. Peter’s Square. Ah, the opportunities missed for failing to embrace the latest innovation back in the long ago.

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