Thursday, December 01, 2005


Recent societies increasingly teach that tolerance is good.

But it depends. If the Big Enders crack their eggs at the big end and the Little Enders crack their eggs at the little end, what difference does it make? The part of the egg that we’re interested in plops into the bowl or into the pan either way.
If one nanny warms the baby by wrapping it in a blanket, by holding in her arms, by patting and cooing to it, fine. If the other nanny warms the baby up by setting it on fire, should both practices receive equal preference? Should the cooing nanny be fired to make room for the fire setter?

Well, there are no fire-setting nannies. If there ever were, we got rid of them. We also got rid of Jesus, and Reich, and Leary, but who ever said we were a rose garden?

Specifically, the United States was founded with an emphasis on religious tolerance: meaning, the pilgrims crossed the Atlantic in order to dissent. They had already proved the lengths they’d go to to protect their dissents. That did not mean that they wanted to tolerate new dissent; but if they had to, in order to dissent, the Puritans, the Baptists, would tolerate the Quakers, and maybe even the Methodists. If the Founding Fathers had suspected that someday their words might come to apply to atheists, or to anarchists, or the Catholics, or to Jews, they would have had a cow.

Let me try to focus on just one thing for one moment: Catholics. The Church had proved the very bastion of intolerance. If you wanted to practice religious tolerance, obviously you couldn’t tolerate Catholics.
Now a group that the Catholics had conspicuously not tolerated was the Jews. Many a European country had no Jewish problem because they had no Jews. Any Jew who showed up was swiftly introduced to some cousin of the fire-setting nanny.

What knee-jerk thing can we expect a Catholic to say about a Jew? What’s the first thing that will pop out? The Jews murdered Christ.
Translate that: "The Jews murdered God."
Should any God-lover tolerate God’s murderers?

I don’t see how. I don’t see why.

But first shouldn’t the God-lovers prove that the Jews in fact murdered God?
Shouldn’t they first prove that God is a synonym for Christ? and that Christ is a synonym for Jesus?

And where do Catholics get the idea that the Jews murdered Jesus? My reading of the gospels suggests to me that the Roman governors did it, prodded a bit not by the Jews but by the Jewish priests of the Temple of Solomon.
Do Catholics want to burn the Roman governors? The Catholics are the governors of Rome.
Was the poor Jew who showed up in Lisbon, maybe in the Fourteenth Century -- maybe trying to sell some pig’s bone as a relic, maybe offering cheaper, better crucifixes -- a priest in the Temple of Solomon? at the time Jesus came to Jerusalem? I’d like to see that explanation.

But first, even before that, shouldn’t the God-lovers prove that they actually love God? (And I don’t mean by shouting it louder and louder.)
And whether or not they prove that they love God, shouldn’t they prove that the object of their love isn’t merely some imaginary artifact of their own semantics?

I am for tolerating Big Enders and Little Enders. As well, I am for tolerating the nanny who coos. And I am for tolerating any religion that can objectively demonstrate any couple of their basic tenets to be more real than hypnotizing themselves in the mirror.

Get your god to manifest to the un-hypnotized. Then: also get your god to demonstrate that his tenets are more sane than un-sane.

Then: the idea of religious tolerance might have some basis.

PS SW's comment is good and welcome. Take a look.

1 comment:

Old SAW - S. A. Wilson said...

just blogging by... my thoughts on your subject...


tolerance implies disagreement. if we didn't think each other wrong, we wouldn't need to tolerate each other.

intolerance is the act of threatening to force or forcing others to change. it's about force and change, not disagreement.

so tolerance can say, go live over there and don't bother me. i hate you, you are absolutely wrong but that is your right and your problem.

i may choose to invite you to join me, but not to change me. you may do the same.

i agree to tolerate your existence out of my own self interest. i know from history that anyone with the power to force change will eventually turn it on me. so i accept that all, including me, will be denied this power.

some things we may agree not to tolerate. i will join with others to use force to stop these things with in the framework of law. murder would be one example. a limited democratic constitutional government is the best tool to define & prevent the intolerable will preserving tolerance.

good subject for discussion. thanks SW