Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Non-Explicit Cues

I was making my routine excursion to the office by way of the train station this morning when I arrived at the station’s entrance. The auto entrance has three ticket gates. The gate in the middle had an orange pylon in front of it, indicating it was out of service (explicit cue). The gate on the left had no pylon, but no cars were lined up to use it (non-explicit cue). The gate on the right, meanwhile, had a line of cars waiting their turn. The scene looked like this:

Why would everyone line up on the single gate when there was an open gate with no pylon in front of it just a few feet away? Because the drivers noticed the non-explicit cue and arrived at the conclusion that the left gate was also out of order.

All but one driver, that is: the chap in the photo at the left gate broke ranks and tried his luck at the left entrance. Predictably, the gate didn’t open, and the driver had to back his car up and wait his turn to get into the long line.

Perhaps almost as predictably, no one would let him back in.

Anyway, this reading of non-explicit cues serves as an illustration for how the Catholic Church’s traditions work. A tradition is a handing down of what has been received, be it a teaching or a practice. Catholics don’t simply have an attachment for old things; they keep the traditions because they are a reliable guide for how to reach Heaven. Traditional Catholics are not infrequently ribbed and jabbed and abused for insisting on Mass in Latin even though we aren’t Latin scholars (e.g. the reader comments for the news article
here). The fact that the Latin Mass has produced countless saints since time immemorial is sufficient evidence for us to stay with it – like the drivers in the long line, we’ve read the non-explicit cues and made our decision. Sure you can laugh at us standing in a long line of traditions and rush to the other gate; just don’t expect it to open for you.

1 comment:

Kindred Spirit said...

"All we, like sheep, have gone astray." Or if you prefer, when the blind follow the blind they can get into the wrong line. :-)