"For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself for battle?" 1 Corinthians 14:8.
A Botched Trumpet Call Could Defeat a Whole Army
St. Paul was borrowing a military image from the Old Testament and the Roman legion. In the days before radio, musical instruments were essential to alerting and passing instructions among military formations. Their use faded with the fall of the Roman Empire, but from the 16th century on, drums, fifes and horns were everywhere on the battlefield.
American forces traditionally preferred the fife and drum, but the official U.S. Army Music site lists 25 separate calls in the daily routine. "Retreat" and "To the Colors" ought to bring back memories to U.S. military types.
Of course, the haunting "Taps," used at military funerals, is the best known bugle call of them all. It is impossible to mistake. Military calls were so distinctive that even horses out to pasture learned what call meant to head back.
No matter how they were used, from the simple blast of the shofar (ram's horn) to the varied drumrolls and bugle calls of the 19th century army, they had to be short, clear and well-known to the troops. A botched trumpet call could paralyze an army and lead to defeat.
A Lack of Clarity is Worse than Heresy
The context of the quote from St. Paul was the Corinthians' enthusiasm for speaking in tongues, but it is an excellent illustration of the importance of clarity in general.
The Bear believes a lack of clarity is even worse than heresy.
The first step in effective cross-examination of a witness is committing them to their testimony beyond any hope of weaseling out. Only then can a lawyer go in for the kill. All possible escape routes must be sealed off.
A heresy at least allows one to know what the heretic believes. A heresy can be fought with logic and precedent.
Among the novelties of Vatican II was the idea that it would be a "pastoral" council. It is only today that we are learning how much TNT is packed into that nice little word, "pastoral." Instead of laying a bum trip on people by condemning things, it would wax poetical in groovy love letters to the world. And the world was expected to ignore the poorly-taped-together compromises apparent in the documents.
"What Must We Do to Be Saved?" Hell if Bear Knows.
As a reasonably educated Catholic, the Bear could not begin to tell you what is required for salvation. It is clear that one need not be Catholic, or Christian, or believe in one God, or any God at all. It is also clear that things might be vaguely iffy outside the Catholic Church.
On the other hand, maybe the Church is bigger than we had imagined. Martin Luther is praised and the Pope goes to Sweden for Halloween revels with a female Lutheran bishop. Meaningless phrases like "the Three Great Abrahamic Religions" are words to conjure with and if the magisterium of the photo-op can be believed Jews are now saved without regard to Jesus.
The Church's selective butchering of proof texts would make a Seventh Day Adventist blush.
Imagine There's No Magisterium. It's Easy if You Try.
The lack of clarity has obscured the very concept of the magisterium. Everything gets blended together in a trippy Peter Max vision of dancing microphones to the accompaniment of backward masking "Adultery is A-OK with the Big J."
It is also clear that most of us don't need to worry about Hell. Unless we do. It doesn't depend on what you do, but what you read.
Merciful "pastoral considerations" trump any actual teaching. The truth seems to be tailored to each individual, i.e. doesn't matter any more. It's all "pastoral." (Again, that word.) Clericalism is more in style than ever, since clerics have misplaced the "binding key" in the sofa cushions and shrug as the "loosing key" unlocks every problem. Pastorally.
On the other hand, most Catholics hear "it all depends" and assume the right to make up their own minds on everything anyway. So maybe nobody takes clerics seriously after all.
Who knew it was all so simple, all along? What a waste all that tedious theology was. It's all mercy, man.
Ah, old St. Paul and his goofy military analogies. There is no trumpet because there is no army, no Church Militant. Every person marches to his own drummer, and it isn't hard to find a congenial beat somewhere in the Church today.