When you're trying to focus your attention, there's nothing worse than silly, needless distractions. Today at Mass, during the recitation of the Creed I could hear, amidst the unison of worshippers in attendance the dissenting voice of a lone woman who decided to replace every masculine pronoun in the Creed that referred to God with the word, "God." So, for instance, instead of "Through Him all things were made." She would say, "Through God all things were made." And instead of "And with the Father and the Son He is worshiped and glorified", in reference to the Holy Spirit, she said, "And with the Father and the Son God is worshipped and glorified". And so on. It was so distracting.
The rise in inclusive language is not really new in the Church. Many Catholics have grown inured to the omission in the creed of "men" in the part that reads, "For us men and for our salvation…" After all, women might feel excluded, so we should just use the more inclusive "us". And instead of the simple and ancient term of affection, "Brethren," used repeatedly in the Epistles of Saint Paul, we now have to listen to "Sisters and brothers," to assuage the exclusion felt by a sister worshipper. And then there's the Sanctus prayer, that reads in part, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." Not long ago, I heard a guy behind me say, "Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord."
Where does this end? It's all so absurd. But as bad as it's been in the past, my experience today raised things to a new level of inanity. I've never heard such a stubborn and methodic insistence to surgically remove every masculine pronoun in a prayer or profession as I encountered today with this woman. I couldn't help glancing over my shoulder to get a look at the offender, and in the process probably providing her with the attention she sought. I expected to see a 1960's type (you know what I mean), but much to my surprise, there sat an elderly woman, with a cute handkerchief wrapped neatly over her white hair. How on earth, I wondered, did this nice old lady become so smitten with the insanity that is the political correctness movement in America? This pronoun game she was playing was nonsensical. It was vexing but also somewhat risible. I could only think, "Doesn't she know how ridiculous she sounds?"
Several years back, Jacques Barzun wrote, From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, 1500 to the Present. It's a hefty book that traces over the last 500 years of Western Civilization. In it, Barzun takes a crisp swipe at the petulant advocates of political correctness in contemporary academia. The all-to-familiar preoccupation, for instance, to drop the use of the noun "man" or "mankind" when referring to, well, mankind, and replace it instead with the innocuous term, "humankind" is particularly maddening, according to Bazun, who writes strictly as an academic and historian, not as a conservative or liberal. For centuries, he argues, whenever "man" was used in writing to refer to everyone, whether academic or theological in nature, it was automatically understood to refer to all humanity. It was something so obvious that it didn't require a patronizing explanation or quick-fix cosmetics to make it more acceptable. The trend today, to include a "he or she", or "humankind", is not only patronizing but it's deeply distracting, even from a literary point of view because it is superfluous. Can't it be assumed that I am intelligent enough to discern certain things, like when "man" is being used to refer to everyone or "he" to refer to both boys and girls? I guess not. But to have to endure this silliness during the Liturgy is simply too much. It's yet another reason why we should welcome the Latin revival underway in the Church.