Mark Wutka raised a comment on my last post:
I understand that you don't want to think of yourself as bigoted, but I think you should take another look at the phrase "small-minded, homophobic, hate-filled, cling-to-guns-and-bibles, fire-and-brimstone Christians".I responded
About my snide comment about "small-minded, homophobic, hate-filled, cling-to-guns-and-bibles, fire-and-brimstone Christians." Guilty as charged. I am bigoted against the Rev Phelps' followers, and against people who teach Hell as a way to persuade [kids] to sign on with the church, or who believe that killing an infidel is the way to heaven. Yup. May they know peace and love, and please keep them out of my family's life as much as possible.To which Mark responded:
Does it not strike you as at least ironic that you can be so unabashedly bigoted against a particular religious group when you are so committed to theological diversity? At what point do theological differences outweigh the commitment to diversity?My answer is, Yep. I called it the Quaker Paradox in high school, though it isn't really a paradox, but a quandary: how do you live up to an ideal of tolerating, even embracing theological diversity, when some of those you are tolerating are, in fact explicitly out to get you. Snake handlers aside, how do we deal with Reverend Phelpses? Around the time I joined, Twin Cities Meeting asked someone not to return after she made some extremely heartfelt but (to many present) hurtful and even threatening statements in meeting about homosexuality. How do we feel about pre-Columbian Aztec theology? Are we bigoted if we oppose live human sacrifice. Obviously this is an extreme example, but it does bring practice right smack up against theory.
In theory, I like to think of myself as not bigoted, but, yes, there are degrees of spiritual familiarity. Liberal Methodists, sure, I can have an extremely civilized conversation with. Mel Gibson's brand of Catholic, a harder stretch. The Taliban? Honestly no, I would not try to stretch.
The point I think needs to be made is that theology has flesh and blood consequences. If we ask ourselves and each other to live out our theological understandings, then we should expect no less of those whose theology includes heavy doses of fear and loathing. And this can in fact threaten us. Probably not as quickly as we believe it will, and probably not as much as we fear it does, but that doesn't mean there is no threat. And so we need to ask ourselves if we are willing to invite in that sort of ideology (he says as if there is a good sort and a bad sort and the bad sort is easily identifiable by its green skin and habit of saying "I'll get you my pretty!"). Are each of us actually ready to be a Mary Dyer?
I'm not. Sorry.