S GUIDE TO COVENANTAL THEOLOGY
a thousand years ago. The first point is the sheer number of 'small
words' you would need to do that. This means that you are still going
to have to work in order to read this book, even if I have been
successful and you can understand my 'translation' of Fr. Keefe's
This relatively minor problem is then really a major practical
difficulty. The simple truth is that 'normal people' don't read books like
this one. If you have read even this far in this book, your status as a
'normal person' is seriously in jeopardy.
But the second and major point is, using small words might make it
possible for those people a thousand years ago to 'understand' you
when you explained television to them -- but the effect would be, that
they would move from suspecting that you were nuts, to being certain
Just for example, one implication of what you would have to say to
explain television to those people is that the table you were all sitting
around is almost entirely 'empty' space. Another implication is that,
even if they put their own hands on that table and pressed as hard as
they could, nothing 'material' would ever come into contact. And so
So, you could 'explain' television to people a thousand years ago --
but in the process, you would convince nearly all of them that the
'explanation' contained far too many things that they simply couldn't
swallow. The more they understood exactly what you were saying, the
crazier they would think you were.
This is why to do what Einstein did, to think like a child, is so
difficult for grown-ups. To think like a child, grown-ups have to give
up too much of what they already 'know.' On the other hand, giving up
what you know is definitely no formula for arriving at truth. There are
very good reasons, usually, to hold very tight to what you know.
Einstein thought like a child, but not childishly.
It is this distinction, between thinking like a child and thinking
childishly, that the world no longer makes with regards to Catholic
worship. To take Catholic sacramental realism really seriously has
become childish, by definition.
The sad fact is that a very large majority of American Catholics
whose current job is ideas, who get paid to think, also consider the
matter obvious -- it is childish ('fundamentalist,' 'obscurantist,'
'unprogressive,' 'unenlightened,' 'paternalistic,' 'sexist,' and
'authoritarian' are bigger but similar words that are also used) to take
the Eucharist seriously, the way your grandmother did.
The late comedian Allan Sherman (who was not Catholic and
actually did not seem to think all that highly of Catholics) once wrote
N.B. This is an html-ized copy of a page from the pdf file, The Knucklehead's Guide to Covenantal Theology.