John and everyone,
"Self-proclaimed Messiah," since it is not the same as "Pseudo-Messiah," as John and Richard pointed out, seems to be a kind of "folksonomy" term. I would say that usually when we call someone a "self-proclaimed Messiah," we are implying that he really isn't one, but they are not strictly to be equated. A real Messiah could proclaim himself.
However, it's not the job of catalogers to decide who real and unreal Messiahs are. I think that is one principle we should observe: as catalogers we help scholars find resources, but the scholars are the ones who go through the resources and draw conclusions from them. Loaded terms should be avoided in cataloging and authority records unless they are well established by scholarship, which requires quite a bit of time.
I'm glad to see that someone removed "Self-proclaimed Messiah" from Moon's authority.
Perhaps this is an argument for using controlled vocabulary as much as possible in fields like the 374 and 368. It's unwise to cut and paste terms from sources when they might be offensive to someone. But I still doubt that the "skinny, lovable nerd" description in a 670 is offensive. Information in a 670 isn't really categorizing someone as a 368 or 374 does.
As for Moon as a self-proclaimed Messiah, this page, sponsored by Moon's church, says he considered himself to have "completed" the work of the Messiah. But I don't think it exactly says he was a Messiah. I think it's risky to use the term for him without that precise claim.
From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of john g marr
Sent: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 5:16 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] subjective opinions buried in the new fields on NARs - open season?
On Wed, 27 Nov 2013, Ted P Gemberling wrote:
> I think the "subjective information" on Knotts isn't as bad as that for Moon.
Perhaps we could hinge consideration of such 670 information on how necessary it is to identify the person being described.
> But to call Moon a "self-proclaimed [or pseudo-] messiah" is openly
> contemptuous of the church he founded.
I wouldn't equate "self-proclaimed" with "pseudo- ."
Actually it's quite accurate. Moon wrote a book called The Divine Principle in which he (the author, Moon) states that he (Moon) was sent from the East to be the Messiah and finish Jesus' mission. He was not declared as a messiah by anyone before that time, or before his time.
> Though "pseudo-messiahs" is an established LCSH heading, it strikes
> me that it would only be safe to use it after a period of decades, at
> least, after the death of the person.
I would expect that LC would only apply the term to persons generally and BEST known as such.
Interesting point: I noticed that a key part of a common definition of "messiah" is that such a person be "anticipated" or "expected." That would not apply to Moon, but it might apply to Hernan Cortez. :)
> In a shorter time frame, the description would be controversial.
The term "messiah" itself is, as is any religious doctrine, by its very nature "controversial", as discussion of who would kill Jesus if he returned indicates.
> I think it might be impossible to make hard and fast rules about this
> sort of thing.
Again, I'd suggest including in 670s only information that aids in identifying the person involved. Rather than considering "subjective" data "controversial", judge it as to whether it is useful for the purpose of an authority record.
> It's a matter of "cataloger judgment", as we've long been told. But
> catalogers do need to have good judgment!
What is more subjective than determining whether a person possesses "good judgment"?
How about rephrasing that to suggest that a "good" cataloger be objective, and then discuss "goodness" with regard to the nature of objectivity?
Ahem. If only we took the effort to set identifiable parameters for objectivity and required the same in politics and of the media... or is it counter to "human nature" to do so?
John G. Marr
Univ. of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131
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