Over on my Roman blog, I did an essay on Pietas today. Pietas is a slightly different concept than piety, but as I said over there, both involve duty. When people describe someone as pious, following the dictionary definition of:

Reverence for god or devout fulfillment of religious obligations

they often speak of church attendance, holy book reading,  special garment wearing (Yarmulke, scapular, Mormon underwear), dietary requirements fulfilled (kosher, halal, lenten obligations). These are, for the most part, public acts. Piety is something we do for other people (or our gods) to see.  If we’re speaking of how religious a person is, versus how they are religious, religiosity is a better term.

Piety is more about right living and the public theater of that than it is about religious sentiment. One could, in fact, behave in a perfectly pious manner with no actual belief at all. I’d wonder why anyone would bother, but I suppose it’s that matter of appearances.  It’s important for certain people, such as politicians, to put on the public show of pious behavior no matter what goes on in their minds or private lives. It’s important both to support the status quo and to garner support from people who are motivated to be pious out of their religiosity.

This is a little messy and I have some work to do with it before it’s incorporated into my final essay on the 9 Virtues for my Dedicant Path work, but it’s good to get some of my thoughts in writing.


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