November 26, 2008

Act of Toleration

One of the most common charges leveled at “progressives” or “liberals” when they make any criticism of, or raise any objection against, a “conservative” or “reactionary” is that they are being hypocritically intolerant or exclusive. This happened here in a comment left on one of my earlier posts. This accusation of viciousness gives me the opportunity to make a number of observations on the matter of vice and virtue.

First, tolerance is, properly speaking, not a virtue but a political strategy or policy. Tolerance, in this political sense, is the willingness to allow others to express opinions or hold beliefs with which one (or the majority) disagrees. Thus the Church of England eventually came to tolerate the practice of Roman Catholicism, without in any way affirming it.

Second, there is a difference between toleration of the right to hold an opinion or belief, and any suggestion that this need extend to action. Thus, I am perfectly tolerant of the opinions of Bishop Duncan, Iker, &c., but I do not approve of those of their actions which I believe to be illegal under Canon law.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, tolerance is not a religious virtue, though it may call upon the exercise of some of those virtues, such as patience and fortitude, as well as charity. But I do not expect the Roman Catholic Church or The Episcopal Church to be tolerant of those who wish to remain members while teaching things at variance with their corporate beliefs. Thus, while it may be intolerant of the Pope to discipline a Jesuit for teaching something at odds with the official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, he is well within his rights to do so. The same goes for The Episcopal Church, though this authority is very rarely exercised. I would thus say that TEC is relatively more “tolerant” of the expression of contrary opinions than is the RCC; that is, we rarely discipline clergy merely for holding or even teaching a contrary opinion, at least if it stops short of action such as attempting to lead a parish or diocese into secession.

Fourth, the fact that one tolerates an opinion need not mean that one agrees with it, nor, on the contrary, does disagreeing with an opinion — even strongly — mean that one is intolerant. Toleration has to do with people’s rights to have opinions, not to be right.

Thus I can strongly disagree with Duncan and Iker without being intolerant of them; but at the same time I do not have to tolerate actions I believe to be illegal.

Which brings me to the whole idea of inclusivity. Someone once said that anything can be tolerated but intolerance — but I’m not sure that is true. As I note, the English eventually came to tolerate the existence of a relatively intolerant body, the Roman Catholic Church, as long as its intolerance was directed towards the discipline of its own members — a thing they have every right to do; that is, the Roman Catholic Church does not have to put up with (i.e., tolerate) its clergy teaching doctrines at odds with the magisterium.

The same can be said of inclusivity — which I also do not see as a virtue in and of itself, though, like toleration it may call upon the exercise of real virtues. Obviously it is difficult to include within any body a person set upon the overthrow of that body — this is why the political freedoms granted to Americans stop short of any right to foment revolution or insurrection.

It is quite true that many speak of inclusiveness as if it were a virtue in and of itself. I do not accept that theory. The same goes for tolerance. Neither of these things requires or implies agreement with what the one being tolerated or included thinks or says. It is neither intolerant nor exclusive sharply to critique any notion advanced or position argued. And if a state, or a church, is required to exercise discipline when an opinion or a teaching goes beyond the pale into insurrection or disobedience, well, the state or church has the right no longer to tolerate the behavior, and to exclude the member.

So, I do not disagree with the Roman Catholic Church, or the Mormons, or the more conservative segment of TEC, for example, for being “intolerant” or “exclusive” — they have every right to be so! However, I think they are wrong — and I have every right to critique them in the strongest language — though, I think, I am really rather forbearing in my tone. Of course, I could be wrong on this as well.

Tobias Haller BSG


22 comments:

IT said...

Well put.

But when does it become unjustifiable to be tolerant? I'm not a cultural relativist; for example, I don't have to (and will not) tolerate things that are clearly wrong such as female "circumcision" no matter their cultural meaning to those who support it.

I am also reminded about the problem they now have in The Netherlands, where they have tried very hard to be tolerant of traditional Islam, with the potential problem being that the very tolerant Dutch may now be out-voted on some issues--including their own tolerance.

Never black and white, any of it!

IT

Tobias Haller said...

Good points and questions, IT. This is where the recognition of human rights comes in, I think, as a protection against someone claiming immunity from action against them on the basis of their religious or cultural beliefs. There is a delicate balance between the various rights -- so while I think people are free to think what they like, that actions taken against others, as in the case of female circumcision (and some would say male circumcision as well!), can be subject to legislation. So, for example, I think it right to allow certain native peoples to make use of mushrooms in their personal exercise of religion, but wrong to allow (realizing this is an extreme case) to permit child marriage or suttee just because it is someone's religious belief, precisely because it affects someone other than the believer him or herself.

For the Netherlands, the surest safeguard, then, would be to give to rights the highest possible protection, while limiting the extent to which a person's beliefs can govern the freedom of others.

And you are right, it is never quite black and white...

JCF said...

I am also reminded about the problem they now have in The Netherlands, where they have tried very hard to be tolerant of traditional Islam

I don't think we even need to look across The Pond, IT.

The United States was founded (particularly through colonies like Pennsylvania) to be a haven of tolerance of religious minorities (and where that failed, as w/ the Mormons in Illinois, even stretched its national boundaries---along w/ its mind---to include the Mormons now in Utah. After they got rid of polygamy, that is. Tolerance has its limits!)

Now, however, we see these welcomed/included/ tolerated groups (such as RCs who'd had problems in the UK, before the Act of Toleration), now exercising political power to discriminate against another group in the Republic (LGBTs)

Why, it's almost enough to make one reconsider the welcome given to Charles Calvert, "Lord Baltimore", for his RC co-religionists! [Or that those "Gentile" rioters in Nauvoo may have had a point]

Jesus saves . . . but a Constitution guarantees (the rights of minorities). Don't try to have a democracy w/o one! [And don't let fickle bare-majority electoral masses NEAR it! >:-0]

Tobias Haller said...

Good points, JCF. Although it was the Episcanglican Woes that led to the discussion, the Prop 8ate is looming in the background, and I think the RCC and Mormons crossed the line from governing the behavior of their own members to attempting to change civil society to their liking, and in doing so, restricting rights guaranteed to others, which pace their claims to the contrary, in no way limit their own freedom to believe and teach what they wish. This is why the amendment of the Constitution by majority or mob rule is so outrageous. (To allow amendment of a constitution by anything other than a supermajority -- especially portions protecting rights -- is folly at least, and an invitation to chaos at worst).

Note, though, that history showed the Puritans in New England -- who fled the intolerance of the Anglicans, turned around and were just as intolerant to the Baptists here in the US! Having been persecuted, or tolerated, does not necessarily make anyone any more tolerant.

I think the RCC and LDS folks have every right to believe and teach what they want for their own members, even though I think they are dead wrong, and will continue to say so, even while I defend their right to govern themselves and their members. But once they start to edge beyond the bounds of law, and enforce their religious beliefs on others -- that is another story altogether.

Anonymous said...

John 2007 writes

A really interesting aspect of discussions about tolerance can be introduced by asking, "How influential is the view of personhood in this matter, especially the view of persons as radically autonomous, whether in a Sartrean or Millsian sense?" It's easy to see, in the state of liberal democracy and post-modern exaltation of the self and the particular, how tolerance is the correlative of freedom. If the good, and the common good, are not shared, and the individual is, fundamentally, a freedom, not ordered to anything, then, of course, tolerance is the essential response. This doesn't bear on the ECUSA topics under discussion. But I think often the assumption among the college students that I work with the driving philosophical/theoretical conviction is that nothing shall inhibit the freedom of a self either by force or by commending an end, or ends, to which freedom should be ordered.

Tobias Haller said...

John 2007 -- good observations. I think there are, as you suggest, two sides to the coin: toleration and freedom; and individuality certainly plays into the dynamic in terms of people wanting to have almost complete self-determination. But the classical philosophers of democracy saw no essential conflict between the individual and the common good except what had to be governed by the very balance of rights and responsibilities that I've been discussing. Thus one has rights, but also responsibilities to the social order, and the two exist in balance. I think what has been lost or minimized, as you suggest, is the concept that individual freedom is ordered towards the general good; and the replacement of what I would call "responsible freedom" with a kind of self-centered egotism that seeks only its own advantage.

It is as if the Cat were become the model of the human ideal! (And I say that as a cat-lover, but even as such I admit that the Cat is in general a most self-centered creature. As someone once said, "To the cat, all things are cat's."

Anonymous said...

Very good topic and discussion, Thanks.
First, no where in our founding documents is democracy mentioned. The idea that we are a democracy is a fallacy, we have a democratically elected govt. but that govt is to be a representative system with checks and balances to assure that there is indeed no mob rule that will eliminate rights.
In the philosophies that give us the concept of freedoms in a civilized setting (community, state) personal responsibility is a virtue that is most highly sought. Codes of conduct for the individual are much higher than for the population in general or indeed the state. In these schools of thought the individual has a responsibility to think beyond personal freedoms.

Chris H. said...

Two points if I may:
1. Very few people these days have this kind of understanding of tolerance because it is uncomfortable and seems untenable in the long term. If I say that Uncle "X" came to dinner and we "tolerated" him, everyone knows he was unwelcome or that we wish he would change something so he can be welcome. Both liberals and conservatives "tolerate" the opposition in the hopes of converting them in the future, it's a state that is hoped or expected to be temporary. If something doesn't change, one side or the other will stop coming. Assuming he doesn't want to change,either the hostess will stop inviting Uncle or he will realize he's unwelcome and not come.

2.If the RC's and Mormon's aren't allowed to give money to support their beliefs, does that mean that TEC isn't going to give money to theirs either? Considering all the statements in the news by Episcopalian bishops and priests concerning Prop 8, I have a hard time believing that no money from TEC went into the campaign to stop it, so what's the difference?

Paul Stanley said...

I have a minor quibble.

It seems to me that you make too much of the distinction between "belief" and "action".

Toleration which will extend only to belief (and not at least some sorts of action) is hardly worthy of the name. "We do not punish them because they are Christians / Sikhs / Quakers but because they will not sacrifice to the Emperor / insist on wearing turbans / will not take oaths ...". Most intolerance is clever enough to dress itself up as an attack on action rather than directly on belief. And any system of toleration will need to find a way of drawing a line somewhere WITHIN the realm of "actions" to explain why some conscience-motivated actions will be accepted, but others will not be.

Whether there is any general formula which suffices to do this seems to me to be doubtful.

Conversely, I am not sure that tolerance will always extend to every belief, even if the belief is not acted upon in any way. In the civil sphere it may, perhaps--if only because in practical terms the pure "thought crime" is hard to prove.

But religions specialize in thought crime, and perhaps Christianity in particular. Christianity has often seen special virtue, and sometimes ultimate virtue, precisely in exact and wholehearted mental acceptance of orthodoxy, and has developed a rather exquisite jurisprudence of mental criminality, frequently deployed rather repressively. This is a milieu in which, quite literally, eternal damnation is believed by some to await the thought-criminal, and in which the identification and condemnation of such error is seen as an important good.

What matters for present purposes is that, in some sense at least, a conviction that this is so seems to me to be quite widely shared. Even most liberals think that there are at least SOME "heresies" which the institutional church should condemn. Even liberals would probably think, for instance, that a priest who believed that the Jews were a people condemned by God for the blood-guilt of the murder of Christ should be excluded from office and perhaps even the church, even if he kept his antisemitism strictly private.

So the question again becomes, What beliefs are intolerable, in the sense of it being intolerable for the church community to recognize as one of its own a person who holds those beliefs?

So the line doesn't fall between action and belief. There is a line within the sphere of actions, and within the sphere of belief, which even the tolerant cannot reasonably tolerate. Your essential point (that toleration ALWAYS has limits) is valid.

One further brief comment. Whether or not tolerance is a virtue, or exhibits or is linked to other virtues, it does seem to be an area where Christianity has a pretty dismal history. We have a well-developed tradition of intolerance, sometimes bloody, and some of it recent or current (think Northern Ireland). In so far as the view may be abroad that Christianity can preen itself for its pacific live-and-let-live attitude, while Islam (for instance) should be condemned for its unbending inability to live alongside others, that shows very blurred historical vision. I wonder sometimes whether our self-image, ideals, and reverence for tradition and history really engage with the truth.

Tobias Haller said...

Thanks for the additional thoughts.

Chris H., I think you are correct about many, if not most, people, being desirous of change in those whom they tolerate. But I don't think that desire need necessarily cross over to exclusion, though it may lead to self-exclusion by the one who does not wish to be "tolerated" but who wishes to be "accepted." This is a very rich dynamic, and works across any number of different dynamics. I think we need look no further than the concept of "separate but equal" to see one essentially failed model of toleration -- it may work for a time, but eventually the whatever it is that separates will seen to be "intolerable" by one side or the other.

I think you are mistaken about TEC opposition to Prop 8. The difference is that the LDS and the Knights of Columbus -- as organizations -- apparently gave significant financial support, and engaged in efforts to influence the vote (producing resources and materials and distributing them). That is a violation of the 501(c)3 code. Giving by individual Mormons or Roman Catholics -- even clergy -- is protected, but the organization as such is not supposed to engage in such activities. The K of C, for instance, proudly proclaimed their sponsorship on the fliers that were distributed. On the other hand, I don't believe there was (and have no knowledge of) TEC financial support of the anti-8 effort. I do recall the bishops of the California diocese issued a joint statement on the underlying issue, in opposition to Prop 8. I think that falls under the area of protected speech, and know of no move to prosecute on that ground. And I'm sure many individual Episcopalians were among those protesting P8, but that is their right.

Paul, I didn't mean to draw to strong a distinction between belief and action, beyond what you observe as the distinction between mental acts and open speech. To take your example, there may well be priests (RC or EC) who inwardly believe in the "blood-guilt" notion -- but until they express it, how am I to know. That is, of course, a subject on which the church has changed its position -- the RCC, officially, within living memory.

So take a clearer example: say Fr. X has come to a point in his life at which he no longer believes in the existence of God. Yet he continues to preach sermons "from the can" and never utters a word to suggest his inner thoughts. Clearly he is not being "tolerated" -- and as I pointed out, a Church has no requirement to tolerate beliefs at odds with its teaching. BTW, I checked out the article on toleration in the OxDotCC, and it says quite plainly that the RCC is, by nature, intolerant!

So, yes, if a church has some way of knowing that a person harbors heretical thoughts, that church has every right to discipline them. The problem is how one makes windows into men's souls --- as Elizabeth I famously said, which, I think, goes to demonstrate my point that the Anglican tradition tends towards somewhat greater toleration than otherwise -- until, of course, the Puritans came along!

At the same time, your observation is quote correct that Christians are nowhere near as tolerant as they might like to believe. In fact, I think some of the worst crimes of all have been draped in robes of a self-perceived toleration --- apartheid being but one example. And you are also spot on concerning general ignorance of history, especially the unattractive bits we would like to forget.

Priscilla said...

Chirs H., you are attempting to equate apples with oranges here and it doesn't work on any but the simplest level.

"If the RC's and Mormon's aren't allowed to give money to support their beliefs, does that mean that TEC isn't going to give money to theirs either?"

Firstly, the RC's and Mormons didn't just give money. They spearheaded a coalition to repeal an existing right that had been recognized and codified by the Supreme Court of the state of California. That is very, very different from supporting beliefs.

Brother Haller very eloquently repeats, again and again, that all are free to their own beliefs and actions within their own religious communities. When the attempt is made to radically extend personal religious beliefs into compelling laws that effect all who don't share one's beliefs then a line has been crossed.

Secondly, you rely on an old trope that simply isn't true, no matter how you parse it. TEC has never attempted to subjugate others within or without the organization to a particular set of beliefs outside of the creed and the canons.

The very fact the Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, San Joaquin, Quincy, and the many others were still in TEC when they voted to leave bears that. These bishops were allowed to exclude women from the priesthood, no one was ever forced to ordain a gay or lesbian priest or bishop against their own will, and no one has ever been forced to marry a gay or lesbian couple within the church.

These may indeed be your fears but they are just that; they are not facts and never have been.

Anglocat said...

Thanks, Fr. Tobias, for this thought-provoking analysis, and even more so for the spirited back-and-forth in the commentary. I just wanted to add that the negative aspect of "toleration", its connotation, does carry real emotional weight, but is not inherent in the concept, and does not detract from the notion that we can all live well together.

As Christians, toleration seems to me to be implicit in the acting out of Jesus's strong command "Judge not, that ye be not judged."

And of course all things are the cat's. Silly to raise the question, no?

Warmest regards,

Chris H. said...

Actually Priscilla, it's more like guilt by association. "Oh, you're Episcopalian, those are the ones who apologized for converting Hindus, marry gays, and have the Muslim priest, right?" I don't know of any UU churches around here, the Episcopal church is the closest thing around here. Whether or not the church "forces" anyone to go along with 815's view of things, the people around assume that since you're a member you believe it. And of course, if you don't believe whatever point they're making, why are you a member? As for "force", the resolution mandating women's ordination does seem like force to those who disagree and also seems likely to be enlarged to include gays and lesbians. No doubt to those who approve of it, it seems weak, but to those who don't, it implies that they are bigots and fools and officially shows there is no tolerance for them or their ideas in TEC. Sometimes things aren't both/and, even in Anglican fudgeland. Just think of the howl of outrage if TEC passed a resolution to stop blessing SSU's etc and make bishops give reports on how they've obeyed the resolution. That is why I still say that for most people "tolerance" is temporary.

David |Dah • veed| said...

Tobias, as I understand the tax-exempt regulations of your IRS, tax-exempt Churches in the USA are not allowed to campaign for individual political candidates, or even parties, but they may on social issues, as long as it does not cross a line in the regulations which would make it more than a minor part of the work that they do or consist of more than 5% of their budget. To do that they would need to become, or create a PAC.

The KoC could proudly & legally sponsor a pamphlet extolling passage of Proposition 8, but not one endorsing the election of John McCain.

Tobias Haller said...

Chris H., you are engaging in some fudging of clarity yourself here. If people said to me, "Oh, you're the one with the Muslim priest," I would say, "No, we're the one with the priest who became a Muslim and was removed from her office as a priest." We don't "marry gays" (at this point, anyway) and I believe the Hindu thing was actually an apology for past forced conversions, though I'm not sure what exactly your imaginary interlocutor referred to. In any case, none of these things are official church policy, certainly not "815's" view of things. Yes, people who feed on the rubbish from folks like David Virtue may come away with very false impressions about TEC. One should do one's best to correct them at every opportunity.

The issue of WO is similarly nuanced. No individual bishop is "forced" to ordain anyone contrary to his belief. The requirement, which has been in place in the canons for years, is that there is to be no discrimination on the basis of sex in the ordination process. A bishop who objects is free to have a woman go through the process and be ordained by another bishop, in a neighboring diocese. Again, his personal right to think and believe something contrary to the teaching of the church (i.e., that women cannot be ordained) is tolerated. What is not tolerated is an action that interposes itself in opposition to the canons of the church. So this is precisely an example of Episcopal tolerance.

Dahveed -- this is a gray area in the law, which uses the word "substantial" to describe the extent to which a church may do something that influences legislation. As with much of the tax code, what that means can shift with the individual cases; 5% is likely the current working figure, but I don't think that figure appears in the tax code itself in relation to his issue. Also, the text of the law does not make a distinction between influencing an election and influencing legislation -- they appear in the same paragraph. I know that to date the IRS has taken a light hand on policy advocacy, as opposed to candidate advocacy, but a court could interpret differently in the future. Moreover, it is one thing to speak on a social issue (for instance, to say "Gay marriage is evil.") -- this is protected speech; but quite another to campaign for the passage of specific legislation against it, as in the case of Prop 8. Again, the crucial word for the courts may be "substantial" -- but it appears that any entanglement with a specific action or candidate before the voters is technically problematical. Usually clergy learn how to make it clear what they think without telling people how to vote. Again, I am not a tax lawyer, but I do try to keep up on these regulations in my own self-interest and for my own self-protection! And, as always, I could be quite mistaken on this; but that is my impression. I had rather be safe than sorry.

Paul Stanley said...

Tobias,

I suspect that you and Chris H are using the word "force" differently.

Some gaps are unbridgeable. If you want to snootle and I want to tootle, we can get along tolerating each other's snootling and tootling. But if you want to snootle and I want that you don't snootle, there's a problem. The very essence of my desire is that you shouldn't snootle, and I can satisfy that desire only by YOU not snootling.

At this point, "tolerance" becomes troublesome. Tolerating your snootling is the very thing I most want not to do. And you may say that you tolerate my anti-snootlism, but if you only mean that you are willing for me to think nasty thoughts about your snootling and keep my distance, so long as you are still allowed to snootle, I'll still be unhappy. If I actually take steps to satisfy my desire, by stopping you snootling, you will reasonably object (belief, not action, again).

Which leaves me rather unimpressed with your tolerance, which is in effect simply tolerance of my desire on the condition that it remains perpetually unfulfilled.

WO is such an issue. YOU feel you "tolerate" and "don't force" opponents of WO, because you will allow them not to do some of the things they object to doing. But what they really object to is a church in which women are in any way accepted as priests, and THIS has been forced on them. (Rightly, I think, but that's not the point.)

Gay sex is another such issue, where the point cuts both ways.

The conservatives will "tolerate" gays so long as we only think about being gay, i.e. remain in a state of perpetually unfulfilled desire. We, understandably enough, think little of this tolerance: We are tolerated only if we will be something we do not desire to be.

The liberals will "tolerate" conservatives only as long as the conservatives are willing to accept institutionally, at least for many purposes, that gay people can have sexual relationships without going to jail or hell. The conservatives, understandably enough, think little of this tolerance: they are tolerated only if they will participate in a community which they regard as beyond the pale (and after all membership, mere membership, is itself a sort of action).

I think conservatives may well feel that liberals are "forcing" them to be in a church where they can't feel comfortable calling me a sodomite and the Presiding Bishop a lay person. I'm inclined to think that this instinct is probably right--which is to say that these are issues where the limits of tolerance have in fact been reached.

Tobias Haller said...

Paul, it seems to me that you are describing intolerance, not tolerance. Whether thought or action, the moment you can no longer "put up with" someone or something is the moment you become intolerant. Thus I think it right to say, that many of our "conservatives" will not tolerate being merely tolerated -- that is, they want everyone to agree with them. But that, I think, is the definition of intolerance, isn't it? Otherwise, I think we are in a second level kind of "meta-toleration" -- where it is the very act of toleration that one finds intolerable. And perhaps that's where we are; I know it is a source of rankling to some in the "conservative" movement, on the issues of gays and women. But to some extent it reminds me of the parable of the generous employer: "Are you angry because I am generous?" Those who think of SSMs and WO as terrible abominations cannot bear to see them tolerated, and want nothing to do with a church that does so -- that is the nub of the problem, I think, not the fact that they are "tolerated" in having that opinion, even in expressing that opinion.

Perhaps, after all, the reason one can tolerate anything but intolerance lies with the intolerant: the intolerant cannot tolerate being tolerated; and so they bolt or revolt.

Isn't this, in part, the substance of the Puritan problem in the Stuart era? They wanted everyone to agree with them -- being allowed to practice their religion without undue interference (and of course Laud unduly interfered, which didn't help matters!) wasn't enough; and their intolerance of toleration (and Laud's intolerance of their constant pressure) eventually led to a civil war.

Today, schism seems more likely.

Paul Stanley said...

Tobias, absolutely. But I think it goes to the heart of the particular canard your post was designed to deal with.

"If you say you are so tolerant, why can you not tolerate my desire for a pure church free from the taint of secular modern values?"

What I am not sure about is whether this complaint is genuinely felt, or advanced mala fide. Perhaps a bit of both.

At any rate, I think you are right to point out the significance of emotion and psychology in all this, as well as logic. I'd only add that this may well be true on both/many sides, though we tend to notice it more in those with whom we disagree.

(And of course, one should be careful about generalizing even about puritans: Milton was Cromwell's Latin Secretary, but Areopagitica hardly speaks the language of intolerance--except of course of Papists, condemned for their ... intolerance! And Paradise Lost might be a great Conservative work, were it not for the whiff of unitarianism.)

Anglocat said...

And that is the rub, isn't it? I mean that the desire for dominance, and the arrogation to oneself of the privilege of judging (and even defining) the other is the hallmark of intolerance. It's not enough for the intolerant to follow the inner light as they conceive it; they must compel others to follow their version of that light, with no allowance for the varying needs of the individual soul.

Or, as Mencken more pithily put it, "Puritanism: the haunting fear that someone, somewhere is having a good time."

MarkBrunson said...

I'm seeing some very odd ideas of both "tolerance" and "inclusivity" here.

The Episcopal Church has nothing to apologize for. The simple fact is that - in terms of TEC - the cries of "intolerance" from Reasserters is rather like pleading intolerance for someone taking medicine to end the life of a potentially fatal bacterium. We are protecting what we see as our purpose as this part of Christ's Church.

In fact, the bacterium receives far worse treatment. The bacterium isn't told that there are plenty of other places for it to exist outside of this body. We do tolerate, if for no other reason than a law in this country that requires a degree of tolerance.

Intolerance is found in places in which one religion decides its the only religion and colludes with the secular arm to wipe out all other religions and practitioners.

The navel-gazing view of inclusivity - that it can only occur if we are in the same ecclesial body - is also spurious. The Church is part of the larger body of society, and, in this country, all are included in the direction and governance of that society, in its decision-making and formation, by its individual members in an electorate. Again, one is not excluded from voting on the basis of religious belief.

Enough with the charges of hypocrisy. Yes, we would like the Reasserters to change, but we are not in Reasserter conclaves and churches demanding that they become what we are.

Again, TEC has nothing to apologize for.

Tobias Haller said...

Thanks again for the stimulating disucussion.

Paul, this is what I was getting at. In a way, I am shielding the "reasserters" from the charge of hypocrisy -- even though I think them wrong -- in that they are actually interested in being intolerant, both of being tolerated, and desirous of holding to their intolerance of behavior they see as sinful. Again, I think they are wrong on the latter, and misguided on the former -- but they are not hypocritical.

Mark, I also don't think the reappraisers are being hypocritical -- the charge leveled at them by the reasserters that engendered this discussion. The problem is that the inwardly consistent intolerant are looking for the same kind of consistency in those who tolerate -- and the whole point is that there are limits to toleration; there are rules, canons, and contracts and, yes, covenants by which we agree to act. This is why Iker's recent statement that +KJS "has no authority over me and she never did" is so offensive, outrageous, and revelatory of an essentially poisoned world-view (or church-view). The intolerant essentially believe in the world of "No fair hitting back." As I've often said, many in the reasserter crowd seem fixated in the mental stages of early adolescence -- testing boundaries, full of insecurities masked with bluster, resentful of limitations but creating rigid systems of rules and hierarchies to stabilize their world, etc. Doesn't that sound familiar?

And yes, Anglocat, the libido dominandi is in part at the root of it all.

JCF said...

If you want to snootle and I want to tootle, we can get along tolerating each other's snootling and tootling. But if you want to snootle and I want that you don't snootle, there's a problem.

Yup: the problem is that "I want that you don't snootle" person is sinning. [And/or, suffers from a psycho-pathology]

I just don't understand why among "TEC the Tolerant", there's a reluctance to call a spade, "a spade".

It's not like we're trying to deny those who commit this sin, to keep on doing it (if they want to). Or IF it's a mental illness, then of course we should have compassion (w/o entering the delusion).

I sometimes think we've ceded the language of "sin" or "sickness" to our opponents . . . when it's the only language they understand.

[JCF waits for charges of "irony" or, more harshly, "hypocrisy". Yup: that's possible too---cuz as always, OCICBW! ;-/]