The Snarkster from Carthage
Thursday October 26th 2006, 3:11 am
Filed under: Patristics

Just as baseball’s post-season wraps up and the NFL heads to midseason … Maria Lectrix scores big with audio files of Tertullian’s De Spectaculis (Of Shows). Almost as entertaining as Tertullian himself is Maria L. (aka Maureen) on Tertullian. Here’s her introductory text:

We don’t know if he’s a saint, ’cause he apparently died a member in good standing of those weird, self-righteous, and possibly semi-pagan, Montanists. We don’t know if he counts as a Father of the Church, though he would clearly deserve to be called one if he hadn’t stalked off to join a heretical sect. But before his little head-on with the Church, this North African Christian said some very cool, useful, and sarcastic things.

Yes! You asked for it! It’s our special Fathers guest star, Tertullian! And we begin with Tertullian at his nicest and his snarky best, asking new Christians why the Church is all mean about taking their favorite pastimes away. I mean, how could anyone think that attending gladiator games is inconsistent with Christian faith?…

“De Spectaculis” concludes with a brief stop at Tertullian’s typically philosopher-ish issues with fiction, acting and stage makeup as equivalent to falsehood. Then we get more thoughts about the games and the proper place of pleasure, many of which are useful, and a big showy finish with The End of the World.

Unfortunately, Tertullian’s amazingly big finish gets derailed by his anger issues. Anybody who can portray his eternal joy as catcalling and watching the damned get destroyed in happy Roman-type “games” is… well… the kind of guy who’d run off and join the Montanists out of pique that repentant lapsed Christians weren’t being punished enough. Sigh.

But don’t stop with reading. Go, download, and listen to our man from North Africa.


2 Comments so far
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Silly Tertullian! Gladiator games are for kids….I mean pagans.

Comment by Danny Garland Jr. 10.26.06 @ 7:20 am

You know, for somebody who likes to talk about how Athens has nothing to do with Jerusalem, Tertullian is awfully heavily influenced by Greek and Roman attitudes and values. I can’t really see the Jewish patriarchs thinking that God didn’t want them to get worked up with joy or sorrow about anything. (Well, maybe the Proverbs guy.) Certainly Jesus and his immediate followers weren’t known for their cool Spockishness. :)

Comment by Maureen 10.27.06 @ 4:42 pm



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