EG 230: Harmonizing Every Diversity

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdalenePope Francis makes his final point on unity:

230. The message of peace is not about a negotiated settlement but rather the conviction that the unity brought by the Spirit can harmonize every diversity. It overcomes every conflict by creating a new and promising synthesis. Diversity is a beautiful thing when it can constantly enter into a process of reconciliation and seal a sort of cultural covenant resulting in a “reconciled diversity.” As the bishops of the Congo have put it: “Our ethnic diversity is our wealth… It is only in unity, through conversion of hearts and reconciliation, that we will be able to help our country to develop on all levels”.[Comite Permanent de la Conference Épiscopale Nationale du Congo, Message sur la situation sécuritaire dans le pays (5 December 2012), 11.]

What I think the pope is getting at holds true for relationships as well. Coupling people, or hiring people, we too often think about compatibility in the sense of minds thinking alike. It’s a lazy approach to relationships. Two co-workers, for example, (call it two colleagues or boss-employee) thinking differently are far more effective far more often for being able to approach problems and challenges from two different points of view. Problem is, too many people, especially bosses and some spouses get all threatened when somebody has a different approach. We could start thinking of different opinions as a form of wealth.

Evangelii Gaudium is available online.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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24 Responses to EG 230: Harmonizing Every Diversity

  1. Atheist Max says:

    “It is only in unity, through conversion of hearts and
    reconciliation, that we will be able to help our country to develop on all levels” – Francis

    ‘ONLY’?
    This is absolutist. This is not inclusive.
    This is a declaration not of peace but of war against humanity.

    And naturally this would be so.
    “I have come to burn the world…not to bring peace, but trauma” – Jesus

    It is destructive nonsense.

  2. Todd says:

    Max! You came for a visit. Good to see you here, man. You’ve also misquoted Jesus, not to mention taken your attempted quote out of context. You’re going to have to bring your A-game if you want to be taken seriously here.

    • Atheist Max says:

      Todd,
      I always bring my A-game. You have claimed in your blog post that there is value to diversity according to the teachings of Jesus.
      I argue forcefully that this claim is not true.

      Consider all the meanings of these words:
      “I have come to bring DIVISION.”
      (Luke 12:49-51)

      Or…
      “Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth?
      No, I have come TO DIVIDE PEOPLE AGAINST EACH OTHER!” (New Living Translation)
      “….I have come to bring SEPARATION” (Douay-Rheims bible)
      “…I have come to bring DISSENSION” (Weymouth New Testament)
      SEPARATION, DISSENSION, DIVISION and indistinguishable from WAR

      This is Jesus calling on humanity to divide itself
      between the good and the bad, the righteous from the sinners,
      the holy from the unholy, the IN-CROWD from the OUT-CROWD.

      You said,
      “We could start thinking of different opinions as a form of wealth.”
      ALAS! Jesus has nothing CLOSE to that sort of wisdom.

      Jesus is a self-inflicted disease the world must abandon.

      • Todd says:

        Conservative Catholics make the same mistakes my friend: you might try a bit better reading comprehension. The post, and series, is about Pope Francis looking at the teachings of Christ, not me.

        As for Luke 12:49-53, Jesus is speaking of a practical reality. When people change in any way–not just in religious practice–they encounter opposition from loved ones. Alcoholics Anonymous would say the same thing. If an addict in a circle of addicts decides to go to rehab, some people are going to get left behind. Jesus was a student of human nature. In this context, he’s hardly the vengeance of a cruel God.

        My suggestion: bring something from the atheist creed. You’re not doing so well misinterpreting a tradition you don’t embrace. The actions of Jesus, in his life, seemed to suggest that he cast a pretty wide net. A little rabbinical exaggeration in a list of parables isn’t conviction material. Objection noted, but overruled.

      • Atheist Max says:

        Todd,

        You said, “The post, and series, is about Pope Francis looking at the teachings of Christ, not me.”
        So you don’t agree with these assertions of this Pope – that the seeds of human unity are somehow deceptively buried in this divisive language?

        “..Luke 12:49-53, Jesus is speaking of a practical reality. When people change in any way–not just in religious practice–they encounter opposition from loved ones….he’s hardly the vengeance of a cruel God.”

        Tell me more about Jesus as a student of human nature.
        What evidence do you have of this claim?
        If it is so obvious, what is the value of this often recklessly ‘misinterpreted’ insight? Was Jesus not all-knowing? Did Jesus not understand how difficult it would be for humans to interpret this?
        Did he not see how centuries dictators would use his words to validate all sorts of crimes?

        “I have come to bring fire to the world…to bring not peace..but division.”

        Where is your evidence that Jesus was a ‘student of human nature’ ?
        Is Jesus such a poor student that he did not understand that people would have enormous difficulty interpreting his texts?

        FYI – Atheism is non-belief in gods. That is all it is.
        There is no ‘creed’ to ‘bring to this discussion’.
        If there were, I would like to see your ‘creed’ for non-belief in the hummingbird wizard.

        “You’re not doing so well misinterpreting a tradition you don’t embrace.”
        I was a Catholic for 44 years and taught some Sunday School
        so you are not talking to someone who arrives at these observations without having once embraced them fully.

        It remains my opinion that Jesus was not a god. The ancient stories surrounding him are contradictory and wildly divisive and a threat to humanity.

        I would not be posting anything if I felt this divisive stuff was merely benign.

  3. Todd says:

    You have a lot of questions, Max. They aren’t necessarily bothersome to me, but they do tend to bog down a thread. Nevertheless, happy to reply today. The responses, in order are:
    – It’s not about my disagreement or agreement. I present a church document in this series. It’s about discussion. I give a lot of people a platform for things I might agree or disagree with. Popes and atheists are no exception.
    – If you’re looking for scientific evidence, I think we both know there is none. But I observe the way Jesus encounters people and I draw conclusions, just as I observe people in the real world. My conclusions may well be wrong. But this is blogging, not science.
    – God is not responsible for how people willfully or ignorantly misinterpret his words. Foreknowledge is not a tool to hinder human freedom. And that a human being might believe in divine foreknowledge is not a free pass for any sort of behavior.
    – Of course there are contradictions in the Biblical accounts. The Bible was written by several hands based on different eyewitness or second-hand accounts. If people are looking for a rational approach, it is not the book for them.

    • Atheist Max says:

      “If people are looking for a rational approach, it is not the book for them.”

      I appreciate you are admitting that the book doesn’t make sense.
      The puzzle is why anyone would believe it.

      • Todd says:

        Ah! You are reading something into my words that isn’t there. I said the rational approach doesn’t work. I didn’t say it doesn’t make sense. Even atheists perceive there is more to a human being than our minds.

      • Atheist Max says:

        I struggle to understand what you could mean.
        ‘Rational’ means: reasoned, thought out.

        If a ‘rational approach’ is not relevant, are you not calling for an irrational approach?
        I am therefore guessing that what you are trying to say
        is these are suggesting an ‘emotional approach’ to understanding the bible.

        But this would be even worse. I hope you see why.

      • Todd says:

        “I struggle to understand what you could mean.”

        You’ll have to ponder the conversation a bit more. My intention is not to be obtuse, but accurate.

        “If a ‘rational approach’ is not relevant, are you not calling for an irrational approach?”

        No. And you’ve guessed wrong. I’m suggesting that the mind alone does not capture the human essence. Biology finds us also as beings of instinct, of affect, of intuition to name three things that are not “opposites” of reason, but complements to it.

        I’m not afraid of the emotional side of humanity. It’s what sparks something deeper than our reason when we see starving children, a burned forest, or inhumane working conditions. Reason tells us why. But affect motivates us in a deeper way to take effective action.

      • Atheist Max says:

        I’m not against emotion.

        When a child is running into a street it doesn’t matter whether the bystander is an Atheist, a Muslim, a Christian or a Hindu. We will all run into the street – instinctively – to save the child from getting hit by a car.

        Morality comes from emotional instincts. We see the same behavior in animals. Which should not surprise anyone since we are just animals also.

        But if your emotions tell you that black people are scary and you give in to that fear you will be a victim of your ignorance.

        If your emotions tell you that vaccines are bad despite the evidence against it your child could die of measles from your irrational decision to avoid vaccines.

        Emotions are part of life but how is one to determine truth by giving emotion the upper hand? A suicide bomber isn’t thinking at all – but is responding to an emotional need to fulfill his promise to a god and to a community.

        If we rely on emotion or elevate it too much it leads only to dangerous behavior.

      • Todd says:

        It’s not an all-or-nothing thing, this dealing with emotions. We are multivalent beings. We have minds, hearts, and guts. We can think, feel, and rely on instinct. As you point out, it’s how we are made as animals. The key is to balance these aspects, and not to rely on any single piece of ourselves.

        But atheists and non-atheists alike have suffered from over-emphasis on any of those qualities.

  4. Jim McCrea says:

    Max: good-bye, good luck and may the Good Lord take a likin’ to ya.

    (Saints Roy and Dale)

  5. Atheist Max says:

    I merely point out that the Bible is profoundly contradictory.
    It is an unreliable source and its claims and assertions violate each other.

    “Blessed are the peacemakers” – Jesus
    “I come not to bring peace, but division” – Jesus

    Jesus contradicted every statement he ever made with an alternative statement.
    This is no different than flipping a coin. And it always comes up heads or tails.
    Unfortunately, Christianity is more of a parlor trick than a philosophy.

    • Todd says:

      Like many people, even many Christians, you seem to assume the Bible is a single book. It is not. While published as a single volume, it is really a library.

      “Jesus contradicted every statement he ever made with an alternative statement.”

      This is hyperbole. You seem to be intentionally disengaging from the context of such statements. Your methodology works in the modern world of media and politics, but it is untenable as a rational approach to understanding most anything complex, let alone religion. I think you can reject Christianity for any reason you wish. But in this instance, I don’t think you can claim the rational high ground. Excessive exaggeration is less sourced in reason, and more in the affect.

      • Atheist Max says:

        Yes. The Bible is indeed a group of many books. I know this.
        But in its entirety it is claimed to be ‘The Word of God’ and is anointed as ‘Scripture’.
        So far, so good?

        Understand that without faith, the whole thing is just a book like any other; scribblings from long ago full of claims, assertions and speculations often about things unknowable even to those who scribbled them. There is no eyewitness testimony about Jesus in its pages. Paul says at one point that he met the brother of Jesus which tells us some such figure named Jesus probably existed.

        The Context of any quote or portion of the Bible is certainly relevant. But there is no integrity or consistency to the figure of Jesus in its chapters.
        To a non-believer the claims within the Bible are already groundless. Matthew, Mark Luke and John are so contradictory that they fall flat.

        How can a non-believer make sense of something so contradictory
        when the only argument in the Bible’s favor is that it works perfectly if the contradictions are ignored?

        How can one examine these contradictions without referring to the salient excerpts?
        Saying that something is ‘taken out of context’ is pointless if the final answer is ‘well, you have to accept it true anyway’.

        Jesus says in John (I’m paraphrasing because you won’t let me use the quote out of context):

        “Do not trust anyone who speaks for himself”
        Then jesus says,
        “I’m here to speak for myself”

        If your son said this to you, would you give him a pass?

      • Todd says:

        Another long comment, Max. And I still note you’re engaging in hyperbole. Cite Scripture or any other source as you wish. Just give a reference, as any scholar of repute would do.

        As for the rest, you are applying the rational standards of the modern West to a culture that operated under a totally different system of thought. It reminds me of an observation I often make: it is like criticizing 1920 football players for not wearing fiberglass helmets, not utilizing the West Coast offense, and not getting paid enough.

      • Atheist Max says:

        “a totally different system of thought.”

        Then why is it relevant to us.

      • Todd says:

        Because it’s the underlying viewpoint of the Bible, the document some might claim you are misinterpreting. Indeed, if your primary arguments are based on an approach you don’t understand or see as relevant, it would be hard to take your stance seriously. Hence my previous suggestion of making your case from your own hill, rather than from mine.

      • Atheist Max says:

        My ‘hill’ as you say, is a quiet, peaceful place. For the most part.
        Atheism is just a non-belief in god. There isn’t much more to add. Unless you have a specific question.

        But your ‘hill’ (Christian activism) keeps coming at me through a variety of laws and court decisions
        which threaten church/state separation.

        Since I don’t have any money to lobby for church/state separation
        And churches with lots of money are bent on projecting Jesus into my life
        along with the creationist agenda against science, in favor of Faith over Reason, attacking women’s rights and other things, I have decided my only remaining course of action
        is to engage religious people such as yourself in the questions.

        Why it is not enough to believe in Jesus and an afterlife for yourself – why must your institutions relentlessly force these things on others? If loving your neighbor means anything, mustn’t it necessarily mean accepting your neighbors as they are?

        Do you not see unfairness going on with religious notions being projected onto people who would rather not have them?

      • Todd says:

        As for politics, I’m in agreement with you on the infusion of Christianity into the public sphere. Most often it surfaces as an evangelical brand of Protestantism I don’t agree with. In many cases, these actions will have unpleasant consequences for creationists (ridicule) or Christmas warriors (atheist displays).

        If you thought I was some sort of adversary because I believe in God, I’m afraid you have totally missed the boat in measuring me against your political boogeyfolk. I gently suggest more reading here and less commentary until you know where we stand. Let’s pick it up again on Monday, unless you want to email me and ask something specific rather than telling me what you think I think. About right now, my friends who read regularly here are chuckling at you.

      • Atheist Max says:

        “my friends who read regularly here are chuckling at you.”

        You swing from saying “I’m not afraid of emotion” to “You are being to emotional”
        Then you say creationists get ridiculed for their position. But, then I’m somehow being ridiculed in the meantime for my questions.

        People can laugh at me all they want. I’m good with that.

        But I’m relieved to not be the one defending talking snakes, talking donkeys, survival inside a fish for three days and the banality of resurrection which according to Matthew was so routine it didn’t even bear listing all the names of those who popped out of their graves.
        These holy men hung around in Jerusalem for an entire week – but somehow this did not impress Thomas who was in Jerusalem at the time.
        Thomas destroys all the resurrection accounts all by himself.

        But all this can wait for another time. I’ll just imagine the chuckling.

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