Where Do We Go Wrong?


Laurence Ticehurst

A few Sundays ago I was seated at mass just behind an attractive married women wearing extremely tight jeans; and in front of child the wheels of whose toy car had apparently never been oiled. As a result my devotions were much interrupted. I saw too much and heard too little.

This Sunday was different. It was the first occasion on which the newly revised translation of the mass was used in the diocese in which I live. The words had been changed in a more formal direction- and apparently there are to be further similar changes over the next few weeks.

The Edmund Burke Institute is a secular organisation. It welcomes the contributions of all regardless of their creed or lack of creed. But this is not to say that it cannot learn from the Church- learn certainly from its deposit of wisdom about human nature, and learn too- as in this instance- from its mistakes.

The key to the recent changes to the mass is that they shift its language to a higher and more formal register. The deeper point being that the Church can best say what it wants to say about in its central act of worship in graver and more sombre language than that which is used in everyday life.

This is the point that the critics of the new mass have been saying ever since it was introduced in the seventies. It has taken thirty odd years – in which the influence of the church has waned- for the penny to drop that language is important.

But can those of us who support market mechanisms be too critical of the church in this respect. In some ways we may have gained influence. But despite the collapse of The Soviet Union and its satellite regimes the case for the market is still not widely understood.

The alleged- and sometimes real- failures of the market are exaggerated, while its successes are ignored. The scurry for government jobs and pensions is accepted as a natural part of life…but were a bank to fail the artillery of the left is mightily concentrated.

Whose fault is this? The left- of course- their insight is limited, their indignation selective, their diagnosis inaccurate, and their prescriptions preposterous.

But if this is so why is it not more generally recognised? What are we doing wrong? Why have we failed to make our case? Is it our arguments or our language? The case is urgent. Unlike the church we cannot think in centuries. We need to know now why our audience is so distracted? Why need to know why they trust the government too much, and trust themselves too little

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