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Michael Barber writes to ask:

Michael Barber writes to ask: March 20, 2013

“Am I too cranky? Or is this meme really seriously problematic?

I’d love to get your thoughts.”

In Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye routinely quotes (or invents) non-biblical proverbs and attributes them to the “the Good Book”. It’s bad scholarship, but very good piety as a general rule.

I look at memes like that as dubious theology, but very good piety. What this meme gets right–these are three holy men who express the theological virtues and who speak forth the Catholic faith in continuity and goodness and unity–is far more important that what it gets wrong (that each pope is only characterized by one of the virtues). My habit is to honor the well-meaning piety and only fret about the scholarship if it’s really getting in the way of something that matters. Here, it’s not. So I don’t mind and like the sentiment. That’s my take.


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