The Schiavo case has come and not quite gone, because there is a feeling out there, largely unexamined, that we were engaged in putting somebody to death...
Then Buckley goes on to cite someone who wrote that a bishop once told him that that the pope ["who ... classified suffering as a gift"], "used to refuse medication precisely because it interfered with his suffering. He has a mystical relationship with his suffering, offering it up for us and the whole world."
I like Mr. Buckley and usually agree with him, but when he writes that the above is "a sophisticated, as sharply distinguished from sophistical, reading of pain," it grates on me. Maybe Buckley's meaning is hidden in his sophisticated use of words, but if he's using popular meanings for these words, then bullshit.
While looking up the words (which Buckley frequently makes me do and which is part of the reason I like to read his stuff), I thought it was interesting that the verb "sophisticate" means to alter deceptively. "Sophistical" means such as plausible but intended to deceive.
If anything, the reading of pain that Buckley seems to consider worldly and refined is actually the one apparently sound but fallacious.
Of the sophisticated reading of pain Buckley writes, "Its sacred origin is the pain of Christ: Why did he linger three hours on the cross?" I've always wondered, if suffering is so great, why did Christ linger for only three hours when most victims of crucifixion took a day or days to die? Why did God command that soldier to perform his mercy killing?
I had to look up "afflatus" because of its resonance with "flatus." At least in this case, they seem like the same damned thing!