[Milton-L] Re: orthodoxy

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Fri Jan 22 22:39:27 EST 2010

Katarzyna M Rutkowski wrote:
> It is important to remember that the notion of what constitutes the orthodox is itself radically relative, both in the seventeenth century and now. People often assert their orthodoxy in contrast to specific views that they consider suspect, so orthodoxy is contingent and historical. Yes, there is a doctrine set down by the official representatives of an organized religion; but then as now many who consider themselves to be "orthodox" have not devoted themselves to the intense study of those doctrines. For instance, my relative claims that she is a devout Catholic; but she has never read the Bible, and when I explained the concept of transubstantiation to her (a principle fundamental to Roman Catholic orthodoxy) she argued that no Catholic in his or her right mind would believe such nonsense. In short, for most orthodoxy is defined locally and situationally, and can even vary greatly from one church, temple, synagogue, etc. to another. Furthermore, the claim to orthodoxy is
  a common
> rhetorical device that discredits another particular view as heterodox. Although I would never say that Milton was unstudied in Christian doctrine, I will point out that his claims to orthodoxy are embedded in texts that are reacting directly to the specific religio-political (with emphasis on the term "political") controversies of his day. Therefore, the pertinent question is not: was Milton orthodox? but rather: when and why does he assert his orthodoxy?
Kenneth Burke reports a conversation in which one person said, "I'm a
Christian," and the other replied, "Yes, but what are you a Christian


More information about the Milton-L mailing list