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C'mon JPS... we're supposed to bury our talents. Hide our lights under a bushel. Says so in the good book right?

The interesting thing about tomorrow's Gospel, to me, is the fact that the devil employs a scriptural quotation, and from a Psalm even. So it turns out, as Shakespeare said, and as we often see in life, that the devil himself can cite scripture for his purpose.

Christ, who has just fasted for 40 days and 40 nights (which we honor and emulate in Lent), is far from baffled by the tempter citing scripture, even though he's hungry he just sees through it and throws another passage right back. One key message I derive from this exchange is that we should read scripture critically, and are invited, by Christ himself, to study, to interpret, and to parse. In fundamentalism, conversely, all scriptures are literal (except, of course, the ones about Christ being Bread of Life), there is not much room or call for interpretation or parsing, and the person from who all the parsing knowledge comes is not the churchgoer, or the "church", or even a long tradition of academic wisdom, it is simply the guy who gets to talk into the microphone every Sunday: the presider. No wonder so many are megalomaniacs!

[The first part of tomorrow's reading, however, is even more "Catholic", to my mind. The tempter first asks Christ to turn rocks into bread. Christ says that "man does not live by" know. That "rocks to bread" and then the "not by bread but by Word" just foreshadows the Eucharist so splendidly to me. The devil demands that Christ change the attributes of rocks, make it something else. But Christ talks of Word--he won't change mere attributes, he will change substance--ergo our mystical transubstantiation of "bread" into "Bread". Later Christ, as the Word, is revealed as the Bread of Life, nothing less.]

The fundamentalist "faith" is dependent on prying people loose from their various churches by mocking their wisdom with unparsed and uninterpreted scripture, and, like the tempter in the above passage, seeks to upend reason and spirit with slippery scriptural citations. The fact that Catholics are occasionally vulnerable to this kind of temptation indicates that many Catholics have received inadequate spiritual preparation for being Catholics, and we should wish them well when they are being fed elsewhere. But it is also Christ-like to call fundamentalists on their slippery scriptural citations, and to send them away, dismissively and quickly, whenever they present themselves.

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