Eng 315 Journal 4


Despite being intellectual human beings, with the power to rule, and the ability to reason, we are flawed by nature. Every person struggles with the vice of temptation, whether it is an adulterous temptation, temptation of food, power, or money; somehow or another it haunts us all. It is even seen in the Name of the Rose, the issue of desire and temptation is a lasting theme throughout the novel. Salvatore lusts for women, Berengar wants young men, the abbot desires jewels and power, and Benno craves knowledge. For many monks, knowledge was such a huge temptation, so big, that they were willing to do anything in order to gain knowledge, regardless of what it takes to achieve. This includes heretical acts.

Knowledge in The Name of the Rose, was so highly valued, some monks would do absolutely anything if it meant gaining knowledge, Eco even related knowledge to a monk as adultery for a laymen, “A monk should surely love his books with humility, wishing their good and not the glory of his own curiosity; but what the temptation of adultery is for laymen and the yearning of riches is for secular ecclesiastics, the seduction of knowledge is for monks” (pp 183.) This can be seen in many of the monks in Eco’s novel, one in particular was Benno. Despite his vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, Benno is willing to break them, and sin, in order to gain knowledge (pp 183). This, in my opinion is heretical; going against ones core beliefs in an attempt to gain intellectual pride, or other type of appeal.

I saw this in my own life during my high school years. I went to Central Catholic High School. Obviously because it is a Catholic school, we are required to take religion classes throughout our four years. Unfortunately, however, many of the theology teachers at Central taught ideas contrary to that of their, so called, Catholic faith. One teacher in particular, however, seemed to teach these ideas defying the Catholic religion for the sheer pleasure of seeing students, such as me, become angry and argue issues during class. I can remember getting into heated arguments with him, and the conceited look of arrogance he had smeared all over his face, it disgusted me. Regardless of his responsibility to accurately, and truthfully teach the Catholic faith, he chose to defy certain Catholic issues, in an attempt to gain personal satisfaction. I, of course, being the one unruly student, went to the principal of our school thinking he would surely do something to stop such nonsense. However, for reasons I will not go into, nothing happened to this heretical teacher of mine. Regardless of the indolence of my principal, I did all I could to make right, this wrong happening in my high school.

Just as the monks yearned for knowledge, my teacher yearned for self-assurance and achieved it even if it meant going against the teachings of the Catholic Church. Just as I said above, despite the notion that human beings are higher, more advanced and intellectual beings, we are all flawed by nature….some more than others.

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7 Responses to Eng 315 Journal 4

  1. Angela Dancik says:

    Your journal made me appreciate the free pursuit we have for knowledge so much more. The incredible amount of access we have to various sources of information, either for educational, religious, or purely self-gratification, the possibilities are endless. I really liked the quote you put from Eco in the beginning paragraph about how monks are seduced by knowledge. It’s like they understand their vows of chastity [well most of them do, at least] and to quench that yearning and desire they just fill their minds with knowledge. However, like we saw numerous times in The Name of the Rose, finding out too much knowledge can lead to problems. I think my favorite character who struggled with yearning to learn was Adso. He entered the story as such a young boy, with a fresh mind and so innocent. He strives to learn as much as he could, both from books and from Brother William. He could also be looked at as a heretic in the story, though, since he did go against the vow of chastity by having sexual relations with the village girl. But we see that so often in this story [both with female and male partners] you’re left wondering how they are able to persecute others for their beliefs, yet continue this behavior.

    I can’t believe how your teacher acted! I understand that ruffling student’s feathers gets them excited and also eager to learn, but when they’re supposed to be teaching a class that follows the Catholic faith and deliberately makes statements against it, that’s just arrogant (like you said). I commend your efforts for trying to talk to the principal to address your feelings, and I’m sure you weren’t the only one in your class that felt this way. I liked your ending quote, about some being more flawed than others. None of us are perfect, but the Catholic faith tells us we should try to lead our lives by Jesus’ example. Your teacher definitely didn’t do that, and I’m sure karma will come and get him at some point. We also see the imperfections of the characters in The Name of the Rose when they cave into their temptations, and certain ones (like Adso and Brother William) try their hardest to atone for their heretical behavior. Its characters like them that give the reader hope that the other monks will also see their behavior as heretical and will repent for their sins.

  2. sarahsliman says:

    Great journal entry Alyson. I particularly liked your quote, “A monk should surely love his books with humility, wishing their good and not the glory of his own curiosity; but what the temptation of adultery is for laymen and the yearning of riches is for secular ecclesiastics, the seduction of knowledge is for monks”. I think this fits perfectly into the topic of heresy. Benno had so many strict morals, but was willing to break those morals for the ability to gain knowledge. The temptation of further knowledge was so powerful he would go against everything he believed in to achieve it.

    The personal experience of our high school teacher was very clever. I would have to completely agree with you, since I experienced him first hand as well. The level of contradiction with the Catholic faith that he taught was appalling and ironic seeing as he was a religion teacher at a Catholic University. Talking against a specific faith to students who were strong in their faith was not the smartest move teaching wise. He was being a heretic to those who kept a strong Catholic faith by preaching out his very opinionated thoughts on the faults (in his words) of the Church.

    Great post!

  3. Alyson, this is a great example not only heresy, but of you “sticking up” for what you believe to be right. In this journal, you remind me of Brother William, and how he made many argumentative pursuits to allow everyone access to the library. He couldn’t understand why this knowledge would be denied to the Abbey’s own monks. In the end, I still believe it was done in accordance with the Abbot’s wishes so he could have people envy him, his knowledge and power, and also so he could gain pride at the same time. Just like your high school theology teacher went against the Catholic religion, although his class was meant to further explain and teach about Catholic doctrine, in order to gain satisfaction for himself, the Abbot does this as well with the library.

    I would also be very angry in this situation just like you were. Especially because parents of these students are paying their hard earned money to an establishment which they were told would be teaching their children about the Catholic faith, and promoting the religion as well. I cannot believe your principal did not even confront the teaching about his heretical actions. I am all for justice, and something should have been done, especially since his actions were purposefully being committed to anger the students. Teachers are supposed to help their students learn and nurture them with knowledge, not provoke them with anger for their own satisfaction. This was definitely heretical of him.

    I’m actually now a little angry after reading this, ha ha! Thanks for sharing Alyson, great post!

  4. dwiddler says:

    I have to say that I understand your position and believe that the teacher should have respected the beliefs of the institution and its students. The student body was paying his wage to teach Catholicity, but in all due respect to your beliefs and Central Catholic High, I do have to wonder if he was trying to accommodate to the entire class. Maybe a student had already confronted him about Catholic beliefs and wanted to know more of other types of Christianity or religions entirely. Of course I do not know all the details of the situation and as you said, he was directly attempting to annoy the students in class. On the other hand, I like how you stuck to your guns. You maturely handle the situation even if the result wasn’t what you desired and he should have respectfully obliged your concerns.

  5. I agree with you competely about your theology teacher. The entire reason you go to a Catholic school is to learn about the Catholic faith, not to hear it being criticized. It was completely heretical for that teacher to claim to be Catholic and to teach about it, and yet go against it.

  6. I’m really curious what this person said…

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