On Intolerance

A short time ago, five young soldiers from Ft. Bliss were killed by an IED blast in Afghanistan. A memorial service has been scheduled for later this month. The Westboro Baptist Church plans to come to El Paso to put on one of their demonstrations wherein they celebrate the deaths of soldiers as evidence of God’s punishing our country for tolerating homosexuality.

If you look at this church’s Website, you will see an impressive amount of hatred. It is not limited to gays. We Catholics, for example, are in their sights and Catholic churches are a frequent target for demonstrations. Mind you, there is plenty to criticize about my Church. But I have to admit that I find the reference to Catholic churches as “whorehouses” more than a little offensive.

Offensive, too, is the invasion of a ceremony for those who are grieving, that invasion motivated by a political agenda.

Mind you, I have had enought contacts with the Baptist faith to know that these people do not even reflect the hearts and minds of persons walking a Baptist path.

In any case, I found myself ranting the other day, fuming “How can these people call themselves Christians? What happened to ‘Love your enemy’? And then the Voice whispered to me: “Indeed, Patterson, what about loving your enemy? Do these people not qualify?” I didn’t like hearing that.

Jung talks about facing one’s Shadow — that within me that I refuse to acknowledge. In my case, my Shadow has a strong dose of intolerance.

So it would seem that, if I am to call myself Christian, I must love the people of Westboro Baptist Church. Will I be out there on Ft. Bliss to welcome them? Absolutely not! For now, I must sit with myself and see if I can face my own Inner Bigot.

Maybe Fr. Richard Rohr was right when he wrote “Jesus is too much for us.” (Simplicity: The Art of Living, Crossroad: New York, 1992, p. 158)

Reflection: 1. In what ways are you intolerant?

2. Which of your enemies do you find most difficult to love?

About richp45198

I am a clinical psychologist and have an abiding interest in matters spiritual.
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9 Responses to On Intolerance

  1. Right on target, my friend. Thanks for the reminder!

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  2. jeglatter says:

    Yes, if it is not inside myself it would be impossible for me to see it. The more I love myself, the more I erase hatred from my environment. Be the change.:)
    -Jennifer

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  3. For me this isn’t about hating the Westboro folks, but I am a lesbian, and their behavior feels abusive and violent to be. I can refuse to hate them, but I do not want to interact with them anymore than I would want to interact with the man who kept the three girls captive in his home for ten years. I believe that the best way to hold these folks in my psyche is to pray for them and meanwhile, educate and support others who are struggling with inner conflicts regarding spirituality and sexual orientation.

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  4. Susan says:

    I don’t know who these Westboro people are but I don’t hate them. Their accusations are just too ludicrous to take seriously. I don’t think that evey they believe what they are saying. They are probably statements made for shock value and newspaper space. Dr. Patterson knows I struggle with the “loving my enemy” part of Christianity. After 15 years of struggling, I have gained back almost everything my enemies caused me to lose, plus I gained a miracle or two along the way and I still don’t love my enemies. But, as one nurse told me, “With awareness, one can cope with many problems”. I am becoming increasingly aware of my need to “forgive them because they know not what they do”.

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  5. susan r beehler says:

    as always, richard, you manage to just be in the midst of and speak to our humanness …. thank you for that and for your words. ……and for the comments that your words bring forth….thank you all for your continued reflections…….

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  6. Jamie says:

    Right now, I struggle with the little things. The lack of acknowledgement of my existence just in daily living. At the grocery store. The lack of courtesy on the street. It feels like everyone is saying, “I don’t love you. I don’t have any regard for you. I don’t even acknowledge that you exist.” I’m working on this. I know that I do the same to others. I know that when I go out into the world bright eyed and bushy tailed and I receive that treatment, I can let it have the power to deflate me for the day or I can sustain myself. I know that human beings are fallible and absorbed in their own worlds; I am too. That brings me to your second question. I am most intolerant of myself. And so I expect to get some kind of love and validation outside of me, from other people since I don’t seem to want to give it to myself. Working on learning that god is the only one who will always be there and that I can be the one who gives myself love.

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  7. Hello there! This article couldn’t be written much better! Looking at this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept talking about this. I am going to send this article to him. Pretty sure he’s going to have a great read. I appreciate you for sharing!

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  8. Roxanne says:

    Well not too long ago I was confronted with a situation regarding an aging parent that abandoned me emotionally many many years ago. I stepped up to the plate for my own peace of mind and for her safety although I swore I wouldn’t. My intolerance is toward a sibling who has caused her a great deal of grief but has taken to attack my relationship or rather my lack of relationship with her. My truth is that there is a history between us that he knows nothing about yet he behaves as though he was a model son. Today I’m having a hard time seeing him and his significant other as anything but enemies….thank you for sharing.

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  9. blog says:

    I havenˇ¦t checked in here for some time as I thought it was getting boring, but the last several posts are great quality so I guess Iˇ¦ll add you back to my daily bloglist. You deserve it my friend 🙂

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