Term Paper: Bad Experience With a Priest

Pages: 25 (8554 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion  ·  Buy This Paper

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] Apparently, the rules that the common people have to follow regarding sins such as gluttony, do not apply to priests. Nothing about the Prior appears to be spiritual, and his zest and zeal for life apparently revolves around the things that a spiritual man should not concern himself with. The Knight Templar is not any better of a person, but Scott does not complain about him as bitterly, possibly because he is not as strongly associated with the church as the Prior is.

Being a Knight Templar, he does have some duties to the Church, as this sacred order of nights chooses to remain celibate as part of their duty. This is one of these restrictions placed upon them by the Church. It seems that, upon initial examination of these two characters, Scott is trying to convey a strong message about how controlling and domineering the Church was during that time. While it is true that the Church was more controlling of society in Scott's time that it is in the present day, it was not as excessively controlling as he made it out to be in Ivanhoe.

Ivanhoe is not the only one of Sir Walter Scott's works where he makes sure that the reader understands the dislike he has for the Church. Anytime characters feel that strongly about a particular entity, it is thought to be a reasonably safe bet that the author feels that way as well. While Sir Walter Scott never really comes out and says that he, personally, has a problem with the Church, he conveys it better in the thoughts, words, and actions of his characters that he ever could by saying it himself.

Saying it himself could have likely caused him many problems, as well, and one could speculate for some time as to whether or not this affected his opinion of the Church further. For example, if Scott already had a strong dislike for the Church, and knew that if he said so he would be persecuted by that same Church, this might have served only to make him dislike the Church that much more, since it was controlling what he was able to say and do about it. Quite possibly, this frustrated him a great deal.

If his characters had only made one or two references to the Church, it would be the assumption that the dislike of the Church was only from the specific characters point-of-view, and was meant to be a specific part of the story. However, because more than one character in Ivanhoe shows the extreme dislike of the Church, and because that theme permeates Scott's book so strongly, it seems unlikely that Sir Walter Scott made up the dislike of the Church simply for the characters in his book.

Ivanhoe is not the only one of Sir Walter Scott's writings that expresses distaste for the Church, but for the moment let us delve a little deeper into it. As has been mentioned, the Prior is allegedly a man of the cloth, but yet he dresses in extravagant clothes and his face and body portray him as someone who would likely eat and drink excessively. Priests of that day apparently did not see excessive eating and drinking as a sin, unless it was being done by the common people.

He is also traveling in the company of the Knight Templar, who is thought to have extremely loose morals despite his alleged vow of celibacy. Rumors are that these Knights only claim to be excessively religious, but they often engage in behavior that would be extremely inappropriate for a man who has taken vows to the Church. While many readers may not pick up on the significance of these two men spending time together, closer examination of the reading shows that Sir Walter Scott was trying to make a specific point by pairing these two people together.

Namely, he was trying to show that regardless of what the Church says, and how holy it insists that it is, there is greed and corruption in it as well, just as there is agreed and corruption in everything else. It has often been said that the line between good and evil is not a line that divides some people from other people, but rather is a line that runs down the middle of each one of us. With this philosophy is extended to entities and institutions, as well as people, it becomes clearer and how this corruption and evil could easily be involved with the Church, even though the Church is expected to be a holy and moral institution.

This is often true today, as well, but Sir Walter Scott strives to point it out in a time when many people put their entire faith and trust into the Church. That is different from putting their faith and trust in God. Sir Walter Scott is not in any way attacking God, rather he is attacking the institution that is the Church. His chief point is that people put their trust, and their whole lives, into the Church and then blindly do whatever the Church tells them to do. The people who are told by the Church to do specific things do them, sometimes because they fear the Church, and sometimes because they revere it. Either way, for whatever misguided reasons the people may carry out Church orders, they are not really doing anything for the glory of God, and neither is the Church.

Because Sir Walter Scott chose to criticize the Church so strongly, he is often attacked by critics (Halsall, 1998). They complain that he should have had more respect towards the Church, and basically make him out to be somewhat discourteous and anti-Christian. Scott, however, was not anti-Christian, he was simply anti-Church. The distinction is one that many people have trouble making, but once it has been seen it cannot be unseen. Sir Walter Scott had no real complaints with God Himself, only with what many misguided people on earth were doing in His name.

Scott was trying to show to the people of his day that the Church itself is only a group of men living and working in a building. Priests may be men of the church, but they are still ultimately just men, and because of that they are not necessarily any better at making wise and moral decisions as the average man would be. What God wants for people's lives, and what the Church wants for people's lives, was often very different. Back in the time of Sir Walter Scott many of the people were still somewhat uneducated, and since some of his works, such as Ivanhoe, were set even farther back in history, many of the people in the book were assumed to be illiterate and ignorant.

These people had grown up listening to what the Church said their entire lives, and could not pick up a Bible or other document and read it for themselves to see if the Church was right. Because they had been raised to behave as certain way towards the Church, that behavior was ingrained and no amount of saying that a priest was dressed inappropriately, or a Knight did not have the morals he should, would cause these people to turn away from their Church. For the common people in the time of books such as Ivanhoe, the Church itself basically was God. It seems that that is the message Sir Walter Scott is trying to convey in his work, that people worshiped the Church as if it were God, instead of trying to figure out what God himself would have wanted them to do.

Scott laments the human condition in this respect, when he talks about how the Church has convinced everybody to do things only a certain way. That type of law should be up to a king, or a government, but yet the Church seems to permeate everything. No matter what the common people wish to do, there is likely a Church rule about it, and those people know that the Church rules cannot be broken.

They are very afraid of Hellfire and Brimstone, because the priests make sure that the common people are taught about the dangers of sin, and the wrath of God, instead of the love and understanding that comes through Jesus. The God of the 12th century people is definitely an Old Testament God, full of wrath and anger. This is the type of God that the Church people want to play up to the common people of the town, because it will keep them lawful and doing what the Church wants them to do.

By attacking the Church, Scott was attempting to show how far his generation had come since the 12th century, but also trying to show that there were many things that still needed improvement (Halsall,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Bad Experience With a Priest.  (2003, March 11).  Retrieved April 18, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/bad-experience-priest/5709971

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