Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Quid novi in campo
Upon taking my leave from my Traditional China course this afternoon, I happened to walk by the College Green, and saw two people holding aloft large placards, bearing a message regarding the need of homosexuals to be saved by Jesus Christ. Some sort of website was included which would, evidently further this goal. Now I was unaware that Jesus Christ had a website, but I suppose I shouldn't underestimate the considerable talents of St. Isidore of Seville, the (proposed) Patron Saint of the Internet, and also the implied patron of all things awesome, interesting, really cool (read: nerdy). That's him on the left.
I didn't stay to see what the fellow's platform would entail (I was eager to pick up my package at the post office, containing Dom Alcuin Reid's The Organic Development of the Liturgy and Neuner and Dupuis' The Christian Faith in the Documents of the Catholic Church). Needless to say, I agree with his position, so far as it goes. We are, after all, sinners in need of God's grace, and should He mark our guilt, none could stand. The Church has very good, very wise teachings on this point. Singling out one group for chastisement isn't something we should be condoning, though. It also is the sort of thing that necessitates a rapid departure, followed by an unruly crowd of people possibly intending to do you grievous bodily harm. Moreover, the point is that, if this is to be seen as an evangelistic attempt, it was a poor one.
The distressing thing, though, is the talk that surrounded the episode afterward. Evidently, the fellow came off much the worse for wear after a failed debate with a science major and a philosophy major. It is something he should've prepared for, even if it wasn't particularly sporting of those gentlemen to engage him so. It also harms any sort of reasonable case that a Christian can make in the public sphere. It becomes that much harder for a Christian to speak about what is written in Holy Scripture, and what the Church or churches teach, and be listened to.
And then every grievance is pulled out from its closet with respect to Christianity (of which one man is now apparently an acceptably large sample): the usual gauntlet of "They actually believe this stuff [the Bible]?" and "They're just afraid of Hell." and "It's a lot smarter to believe we evolved from monkeys than that some Jewish guy rose from the dead two thousand years ago." and things of that nature. Tolerance, of course, is a very empty word these days. And I think such statements are the unguarded speech of a group of people who clearly feel secure in numbers, and have gotten careless about keeping up the façade.
As of this afternoon, an e-mail was sent out regarding the incident, strongly condemning it and reiterating the campus' philosophy of tolerance, &c. Not entirely unpredictable; but is it necessary? I think it was reasonably clear that this wasn't a campus-sanctioned event, and that the admins and faculty had no particular interest in the fellow. Why try to diffuse something like this? And while I think such an e-mail is largely unnecessary, if it is felt that it should be sent out, why isn't there a reminder that not everyone thinks like this man, and that there can be legitimate disagreement over such an issue? Or is the campus indeed endorsing the notion that to call homosexual acts a sin is 'hateful'? That sort of token tolerance is something that needs to be curtailed, as it is generally only monodirectionally tolerant.