Petty — or Just Very Observant?

October 2001

One who’s observant and attentive to detail — and vocal about it — is liable to be accused of being “petty,” especially by the presbyopic. Yes, the NOR has been indicted for being petty, and, believe it or not, we take the charge seriously. That’s why we pay close attention when someone else is upbraided for being petty.

One of our very favorite magazines is Crisis, and in its April issue Mary Jo Anderson reviews New Catholics for a New Century by the liberal Catholic Arthur Jones, and charges the author with being, yes, petty. Noting how Jones pits the liberal Bishop Thomas Gumbleton against the conservative Archbishop Charles Chaput, she says that “While Jones concedes that both clerics admirably observe vows of poverty, he can’t resist the petty observation that while Archbishop Chaput’s possessions ‘fit in one suitcase,’ Bishop Gumbleton’s ‘fit in a very small suitcase.’”

Is Jones being petty — or acutely observant? We’re stumped, though we acknowledge that if poverty is extremely important to you, you’d probably say the latter.

“More pettiness follows…,” Anderson adds.

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New Oxford Notes: October 2001

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