Saturday, December 29, 2007

On Parochial Provincialism

Parochial: adj. 1) of or pertaining to a parish or parishes. 2) of or pertaining to parochial schools or the education they provide. 3) of very limited or narrow scope; provincial. [Random House College Dictionary]
Parochial: Relating or belonging to a Parish. [Black's Law Dictionary]
Parish: In English ecclesiastical law a circuit of ground, committed to the charge of one person or vicar, or other minister having cure of souls therein (1 Bl.Comm. 111). The precinct of a parish church, and the particular charge of a secular priest. An ecclesiastical division of a town, city or district, subject to the ministry of one pastor. 2. In Louisiana, a territorial governmental division of a state corresponding to what is elsewhere called a county. [Black's Law Dictionary]

I find it particularly amusing that, in these cosmopolitan times of political-correctness, people should equate provincialism with being narrow-minded, or presume that either is necessarily a bad thing. The words themselves are more often used as pejoratives, the kind of insult that one hurls at an opponent upon being bested at argumentation. And why is it that narrow-minded rural folk often lead the happiest lives, have stable relationships, and appear to be least in need of government intervention? Is there, perhaps, something that our social engineers (our overlords) have overlooked in their haste, some undefined virtue to be found in provincialism — something that may yet teach us a little more about what it is to be civilized?

I think there is, and so I emphasize the word parochial because it addresses a social concern that is often underemphasized, if not altogether overlooked: the dynamic equilibrium, or dialectic, that has always existed between church and state, or religion and politics, and which is crucial to maintaining that social harmony which is fundamental to a healthy community. I suggest that this subject is infinitely sublime, and that there is no one, single, perfect moral and social governing system that has all of the answers, or which can be — or ought to be — enforced upon everybody, everywhere.

And yet this is exactly what is happening.

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