Friday, November 14, 2008

Unofficial holiday boycott

Today most people are away from the department as it's a holiday. However, the holiday is for the USC science departments in the university because today is their Saint's day. The idea of having a Saint's day for a physics department just feels kinda weird to me, so I'm in work, unofficially not on holiday! Of course this still being a predominantly Catholic country such holidays are pretty common and I'll happily take a day or two off at Easter, but simply for the sciences it seems somewhat paradoxical.

On which note I shall get back to work...


toomanytribbles said...

here, almost everything has a saint. and this is considered monotheism?

easter and christmas are, first and foremost, secular holidays. i consider them to be astronomical holidays -- solstices and equinoxes.

Luca said...

Jon, it actually makes sense. Every job or profession has a protector saint, the custom started during the Middle Ages (I believe) when Guilds and such were powerful.
In Italy, for every city there's a holiday on the day of the Patron Saint. In Milan, for instance, is December 7th, Saint Ambrose. But I never heard of holidays related to specific arts (at least still in use today).

By the way. Difference should be made between what is religion -- hence the existence of one God, that is monotheism -- and religious customs -- saints and martyrs. One of the (many) reasons I never liked Pope John Paul II was his popularization of Catholicism, with the plethora of saints and martyrs made under his pontificate: as it was during the Middle Ages, saints and martyrs were foremost considered as a way to bring the abstract of religion to the people.

Honestly, if the interference of Religion were only at this level, I'd be rather happy. Unfortunately it's deeper than that.

toomanytribbles said...

there are patron saints for activities, ailments and places. people pray to them, offer them gifts, and if one just misses getting hurt, his favorite saint was protecting him.

saints have supernatural powers. for instance, they can cure illness. they are not simply bearers of a message.

add to all this the trinity, and you get a very nice polytheism.

btw, orthodox christians believe in a vast number of saints just like catholics do.

i always thought that these beliefs evolved from the roman and greek systems.

Luca said...

Technically people don't pray the saint, but pray the saint for intercession to God. And technically trinity is not the presence of three Gods, but one manifesting in three distinct entities.

That's not polytheism, that is the belief in more than one God, but the belief of the existence of supernatural beings. I don't think it develop from Greek and Roman systems, rather from Egyptian and Hebrew believes. In the former is the presence of a well-structured trinity and one powerful God (Ra), in the latter angels.

toomanytribbles said...

of course people pray to saints -- directly and not as intercessory agents. i've heard people around me say so repeatedly and with no regard to technicalities. i am well aware what people are taught -- but somehow, the faithful don't seem to follow the rules.

the trinity is one of the most unexplainable and contradictory aspects of christianity, leading to great confusion and reeking of polytheism. i have heard no satisfactory explanation for the differences in behavior and properties of jesus and god and differences in what people's duties are to each the three -- er the one -- er the three.

oh, never mind.

i have very little knowledge as to the lines of descent of supernatural entities to say for sure if christian saints are evolved from egyptian or greek traditions. i might look into it sometime soon.

Luca said...

As I said earlier, one should not confuse religion and religious/popular believes, when talking about religion. Again reason of my dislike for Pope John Paul II was that in trying to bring back Catholicism to the people he too often mixed religion and popular believes.
About the trinity. The institution of the dogma is something of the early ages of Christianity, and later became one of the reasons for the East-West Schism.

By the way, just to make myself clear. I think the institution of the saints is close (in scope) to the tzadik of Judaism.
About the Egyptian religion, I was only referring to (their own) trinity.

Greek (and Roman) religions have in my opinion almost no impact on Western philosophy. Greek and Roman philosophers were not affected by their religions.

toomanytribbles said...

'one should not confuse religion and religious/popular believes'

why not?

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