Tuesday, December 7, 2010

'Tolerance' isn't Always Tolerant

I discussed home schooling earlier today. My ideas may not seem 'tolerant.'

In a way, they aren't. It depends on what's meant by 'tolerance.'

Tolerance as Lockstep Conformity

There's a sort of 'tolerance' that insists on everybody agreeing with the latest politically correct pronouncement, and shouting down anybody who won't conform. For someone practicing this sort of 'tolerance,' Home schooling would be redundant. In my opinion. Kids will have ample opportunities for learning that sort of group-think in the government schools.

Lunatic liberals aren't the only folks who can demand lockstep conformity. I remember the trailing end of 'happy days' and the era of the Gray Flannel Suit. I'll get back to that.

Tolerance as Recognizing and Respecting Differences

There's a sort of 'tolerance' that insists on respecting the dignity of each person - whether or not that person agrees with me. I'm a practicing Catholic, so that's the sort of tolerance I have to practice. If that's not 'what you read in the papers,' I'm not surprised. I'll get back to that, too.

Oh, For the Wonderful Happy Days of the Fifties?

The fifties really were the semi-idyllic era of poodle skirts good times that folks see in the "Happy Days" sitcom. Provided you were somebody like Mr. Cunningham.

Then there was "The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit." Also a successful, prosperous man. Not quite as happy as Mr. Cunningham: and that's another story.

The fifties were boom times in America's economy. It was a good time to be around: particularly if you were a white, male WWII vet who didn't mind wearing the right clothes, getting the right job, going to the right church, and being as much like your neighbors as possible.

I doubt that America will ever be quite like that again. And for that, I'm thankful.

I don't conform well, you see. And I have issues with authority.

So I became a Catholic?!

I've discussed my conversion before.

Authority, Conformity, Differences, and Me

Briefly, about authority: I don't like following someone else's rules. When the other person is God, though: what I like and don't like isn't all that important. 'God's God, I'm not' is one way to put it.

About conformity: The Catholic Church is, literally, "universal." We have a set of beliefs that haven't changed in two millennia, and won't until God changes things.

That leaves a great deal of room for individual and cultural differences.

Despite what you may have heard from someone - including some Catholics - I don't, as a Catholic, have to like one particular style of music, smash all my rock and roll records, or feel that accordions are the work of the devil.

We've got rules - but those rules are like the Church: universal. It's a 'unity and diversity' thing. (August 26, 2010)

The Catholic Church's rules don't conform to the preferred reality of America's dominant culture. That shouldn't be a surprise. We were 'out of step' with Imperial Rome. Later, we were out of step with feudal - and then Renaissance - Europe. Today we're out of step with Information Age America.

We're not tied to one culture, or one era. The Catholic Church is rooted in eternity, moving through time under the guidance of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 232-260, for starters)

Love, Respect, and When to Listen

When somebody waving a Bible says that God agrees with him about music, candles, or wearing hats - I have to love and respect the person: but that doesn't mean I have to agree with him.

When the man who currently holds the authority that my Lord gave Peter says something - I have to love and respect that person too: and it's generally a good idea to listen.

Which gets into the idea of infallibility. Which is most emphatically not the same as thinking that the Pope can't make mistakes. (Catechism, 891, for starters)

I mean to say: some of our Popes have been - colorful would be a polite way to put it. Which doesn't shake my faith a bit. Actually, learning what sort of leadership the Church has had over the last 19 centuries - going on 20 - is one of the reasons I decided that God really was supporting the Catholic Church.

Somebody or something was holding the outfit up: and Occam's Razor1 suggested that I accept the explanation that the Church has been giving from day one.

And that's another topic.

Related posts:
1 Occam's razor: see Another War-on-Terror Blog (April 4, 2008)


Left-Footer said...

Can't disagree with any of this ;)

Great post!

Brigid said...

Missing a word: "smash all my rock roll records"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...


Dang! I missed that twice - then fixed it. Thanks!

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...



And - well, I wanted this post hard to disagree with. ;)

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.