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A nitpick of vocabulary

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A nitpick of vocabulary
Post by DaveB63   » Tue Dec 26, 2017 7:41 pm

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I just completed a binge-reread of both Honorverse and Safehold and something that has struck me before while reading them raised its head yet again. Unfortunately this time I was next to my keyboard when it did, so apologies in advance for my pedantry.

In both those series, particularly when addressing Grayson in the Honorverse or pretty much throughout Safehold the duality "lords secular and temporal" is used, in contexts that imply it is referring to both the ecclesiastical and civil authorities. Sadly, this usage is incorrect. "Secular" and "temporal" are as close to being synonyms as it is possible to get without actually being so, the "lords secular" and "lords temporal" of a particular realm are the same folks, the civil, non-religious authorities.

The antonym of "secular" would be "sacred" while the antonym of "temporal" in this one of its meanings would be "spiritual" (temporal in its meaning of "referring to the material world" is balanced by "spiritual" while in its other common meaning "referring to time" it would be balanced by "eternal")

The duality should be either "lords secular and sacred" (not a common usage, but arguably correct) or "lords spiritual and temporal" (more correct - cf the British House of Lords where the Lords Temporal are the peers of the realm, the Lords Spiritual the bishops of the Church of England)
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Re: A nitpick of vocabulary
Post by dscott8   » Wed Dec 27, 2017 11:20 am

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Might it not be a tenet of the Church of Humanity Unchanged that holding office in the Church does not convey superior position or "Lordship", but rather a responsibility to serve? I wish some preachers IRL could grasp this concept.
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Re: A nitpick of vocabulary
Post by DaveB63   » Fri Dec 29, 2017 8:46 pm

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dscott8 wrote:Might it not be a tenet of the Church of Humanity Unchanged that holding office in the Church does not convey superior position or "Lordship", but rather a responsibility to serve? I wish some preachers IRL could grasp this concept.


Indeed it may be, but in the societies I mentioned the church authorities do have a say in the business of administering government. Bishops and above are not in any sense "lords" of the secular realm, but they are "lords of the church" in terms of their authority within it. As such, they are considered the "Lords Spiritual" of the government,as distinct from the "Lords Temporal" who derive their authority from patents of nobility granted by the crown.

Which doesn't matter at all for the point raised in my OP since the philosophy underlying considering the lords of the church as lords in government is irrelevant to the terminology used to describe them. The fact remains that "temporal" refers to time, either that which is subject to time and therfore part of the material world - ie secular - or that which is not eternal. So "temporal and secular" remains a tautology. A tautology that is confirmed by the relevant definitions in both Websters and the OED.
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