the fine line between religious passion and hate-filled judgments

Behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Luke 10:3

I don’t want any wolf encounters! I hate confrontation. I lack courage. I have no desire to stand firmly and stare down a vicious, teeth-baring opponent.

It seems that I was being attacked by a pack of wolves on the Catholic blogosphere several months ago. I didn’t know about it then. And I wish I didn’t know about it now.

It all started with a blog post that I wrote for the National Catholic Reporter. A section of that post was taken out of context and viciously attacked by a blogger. Based on the tone of this blog, it seems that the author and the followers are passionate Catholics. They are also passionate in “spotting the heresy”. They don’t like the independent, more liberal NCR so I was an easy prey. I don’t want to share the links (yes, the article was shared among several blogs of this nature), because I don’t want to give them more notoriety than they deserve.

I learned a few things about myself through the eyes of these concerned Catholics. Apparently, I am spreading calumny and false witness. I am claiming that we are all irrational animals. Oh, and I’m a militant atheist. The biggest chuckle was the assumption that I received a raise in salary for this article.

I went back to re-read the offending article that I wrote. Perhaps I wasn’t clear in my message, and left too much room for misinterpretation? No. The point of my article, if you read it in its entirety, was to encourage more compassion, understanding and inclusivity in our church, and less judgment towards those who cannot accept all her teachings. Apparently the message was lost on these good folks, but I still stand by it and will continue to promote it.

Perhaps I should be proud that my writing was considered worthy enough for such detailed analysis and heated discussion. But, I’m not. I’m saddened by the tone of men and women who call themselves Catholic and yet reflect such a lack of Christian charity. There is no desire for dialogue or mutual understanding. There is only the desire to wave high the banner of orthodoxy in order to beat others with it.

There is a lesson to be learned. I may not always agree with something someone has said or written, but I must strive to be fair in my own commentaries. After all, the purpose of a commentary is to ponder and continue the dialogue begun by the other. Whenever we put our words out there, we allow them to be judged. But, we can disagree in a respectful way. Disagreeing with an idea should not morph into vindictive hatred of the person or be used to merely feed the already simmering angers in others – regardless of where you are on the trad-lib scale.

No, I don’t want to be a meek and mild lamb. I will continue writing, with a renewed conviction to keep my writing fair and balanced. But, I won’t be expending my energy fighting wolves.