tolerance and faith…

…in the mainstream media. In this instance, an interesting column by Michael Gerson, “Harry Potter’s Secret..” The thesis is that Potterworld is one of tolerance, where the “other” is treated with love and dignity.

Fair enough, given the recent outing of Headmaster Albus Dumbledore by author J.K. Rowling. Mr. Gerson notes that one of the principal themes of the Harry Potter series is tolerance, and he sees no conflict between tolerance and faith, and, in fact, sees a direct connection between faith as a cause of tolerance:

How can a book series about tolerance also be a book series about religion? This represents a misunderstanding of both tolerance and faith. For many, tolerance does not result from the absence of moral convictions but from a positive religious teaching about human dignity. Many believe — not in spite of their faith but because of it — that half-bloods, werewolves and others should be treated with kindness and fairness. Above all, believers are called to love, even at the highest cost.

Mr. Gerson doesn’t address sin, which is expected behavior from a Washington Post columnist. Tolerance seems to be among the great pantheon of liberal virtues, along with such nebulous concepts as “diversity” and “inclusiveness.” I’d be willing to bet large that folks like Michael Gerson, and J.K. Rowling, for that matter, would frown upon rebuking a sinner for his sins.

Do not misunderstand. I’m a great fan of Potterworld; love the books, and the movies. And I see in both a strong Christian undercurrent, which Mr. Gerson does as well. Most especially the notion that there is something that can, or has already, defeated death: Jesus Christ in our case. Since one might argue that Jesus Christ is pure love, then J.K. Rowling is on board with the notion that love conquers all. Including death.

I would be much more impressed with Gerson, Rowling, et.al. if they did not appear to be overly tolerant of all sorts of sinful behavior. If they could, as Christians must, in order to be faithful to Scripture, distinguish between the sinner, whom we are called to love as our brother, and the sin: which we are called on by God to hate and not allow in our presence.

Unfortunately, liberals, regardless of their claims to religious beliefs, tend to see sins through a strong filter of political bias. As opposed to all of the sins enumerated in both the Old and New Testaments; sins which believers should acknowledge are all things that God wishes us not to do. You’ve heard the term “cafeteria Catholics?” It means Catholics who cheerfully ignore inconvenient parts of their church’s dogmas.

The term cafeteria Christian could also apply to any Christians who find some verses of Scripture “inconvenient.” Sin can’t be defeated by defining it away. And, make no mistake, we are all sinners. Some of us attempt to repent, to reconcile ourselves with God. While we (mostly) fail and need to keep on trying, we should never, ever, expect anyone to be tolerant of our sin.

Just tolerant of us, and our struggle to conquer sin.

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One comment

  1. Hmmm. But then again, if you go into the cafeteria and eat the trays, you haven’t exactly shown much discernment. It isn’t that some verses are inconvenient. Some just aren’t relevant or need to be interpreted so that they are in keeping with higher principles. Liberal Christians…such as myself…see sins not through a political lens but through the lens of the Royal Law. If an action does not manifest classical Augustinian concupiscience, well…it ain’t sin.

    Interesting thoughts. I blogged on the same thing myself today.

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