You know what it's like: no sooner do you see one odd thing but something just as odd pops up as if to confirm that the first wasn't something by itself.
Looking for something else in the third volume of George Orwell's Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters, I came across something really odd in an As I Please dated 3 March 1944. A reviewer had made some disparaging comments about St Teresa of Ávila and St Joseph Cupertino; a Catholic reader complained. Orwell defended the reviewer, and his Catholic correspondent responded even more indignantly. What is odd for the time, and what Orwell notes as odd, though I will draw different conclusions from his, is that the correspondent says that the fact that the two saints were reputed to have flown is irrelevant: what mattered, in the case of St Teresa, was that
"her vision of the world changed the course of history".
"The figure of Christ (myth, man, or god, it does not matter) so transcends all the rest that I only wish that everyone would look, before rejecting that vision of life".
Orwell cites Fathers Woodlock and Knox to point out the unorthodoxy of his correspondent's view, but goes on to say that
"what my correspondent says would be echoed by many Catholic intellectuals. If you talk to a thoughtful Christian, catholic or Anglican, you often find yourself laughed at for being so ignorant as to suppose that anyone took the doctrines of the Church literally".
Orwell goes off in his own direction at this point, but I want simply to register surprise, not at the fact that this nonsense was being spouted by somebody calling herself a Catholic, but by the fact that she, and the others Orwell knew, were talking like this in 1944. I had thought that this level of cynical heterodoxy—I want everybody to think I'm Catholic but you and I are far too intelligent to accept all the stuff that has to be peddled to the masses—is of much more recent appearance.
Two straws in the wind. Two worms in the apple?