how do we dialogue with heresy hunters?

It’s happened again. Thanks to the detailed stats and comment links provided by WordPress, I discovered that my blog was being referenced by yet another self-professed gate-keeper of orthodoxy. I shared a similar experience recently. At the time, I refused to give the accusers more notoriety than they deserved. I stand by that now and will not share the name of the blogs that published the accusatory article. (The article was written by one and re-posted by another.)

The article accuses the Prairie Messenger of promoting heresy and dissent, and singles me out as a columnist who is “indicative of the open dissent”. It then lists some of the topics and articles I have written about on this catholic dialogue blog.

My first reaction was to perhaps post a polite response to the accusations. I decided to leave the accusations lying in mid-air with hopes that they will vaporize on their own.

Perhaps it is time to post a warning by-line on catholic dialogue… available in HD! Depending on your viewing area and theological leanings, the words you read may be deemed as Heresy and Dissent.

Sometimes, all you can do is try to have a wee bit of a chuckle. But, the spirit behind these accusations is no laughing matter. In our politically correct world, there are some words that are no longer acceptable because their history is just too horrific.

I would like to propose that the words ‘heretic’ and ‘dissenter’ be added to that list.

Aren’t these merely theological definitions for those whose religious belief or practice is contrary to orthodox doctrine, you ask?

Perhaps, but these words also have a historical association with vile and violent religious persecutions by those who self-righteously claimed sole possession of the truth. The call to wipe out heretics inspired armies of crusaders. Trotting to the authorities with false accusations of heresy or dissent became the ultimate revenge in a dispute with your neighbour. Sadistic inquisitors terrified, tortured, and killed their victims in the name of keeping religion pure.

Accusations of heresy or dissent are too often associated with a mean-spiritedness that has no place in a religious community. It saddens me, but it also challenges us to seek ways to bridge the current divides; for they must be bridged if we are to move forward together as a united people of God.

Have you ever been in a situation where dialogue seemed impossible?

What strategies can be used to promote dialogue in these situations?

4 thoughts on “how do we dialogue with heresy hunters?

  1. There is an illusion that many of us have and that is: “that I can finally get it right”. To be right means I can be justified and finished. “If I could only get it just right about God, the Church, doctrine, and orthodoxy, then I will be happy, if I get this correct and I have my beliefs really down, then I will be secure, happy and have the illusion that I am a finished product.

    Then all of my ethical questions and the ambivalences of my life, and my shadow side are all fixed. I don’t have to ask those questions anymore, or worry that I might find something in the closet later on; everything has already been cleaned out. Actually, the danger in this kind of spirituality leads me to inflate myself; somehow I am no longer like other human beings now that I have it right. If you become this kind of a Catholic fundamentalist there will be victims; yourself, but always there will be another victim, there always be someone else who is the victim too. It is important to recognize that just claiming orthodoxy in your beliefs does not mean personal spiritual transformation.

    So, I have no answer as to how to deal with the gate-keepers, but this might offer insight into what they are suffering from.

    1. Sadly, I don’t think we can have a dialogue with the heresy hunters. They are so very angry they seem not to be able to listen. Their way is the only right way so why would they want to talk about other views. Dialogue takes two .

      1. Hi Ann,
        And, sadly, I echo your feelings….but so don’t want to! The hopeful side of me keeps searching for ways; even if it’s simply to try and model the dialogue you wish could take place…though it’s not always easy….

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