Calling It Hate

David Gibson picks up on Fr Jim Martin’s misadventures with being insufficiently congruent to the Catholic culturewarriors here. Quoting Fr Martin:

No issue brings out so much hatred from so many Catholics as homosexuality. (This) is nearly unbelievable to me, especially when I think of all the wonderful LGBT friends I have.

I want to carefully unpack this. I’ve been pondering it much of the morning while doing gardening and ripping up carpet.

I myself was accused of being angry a few months ago. Someone interpreted comments I made on this site as indicative of “hate” toward priests and bishops. I also found it unbelievable. But I do think there’s an acceptable veneer of conversation in some quarters of American and even internet society.

Do I “hate” clergy? Certainly not. Am I critical of things they do as individuals and as conferences? Sure I am. Should a priest or bishop be cautious in communicating with me? I don’t know why they would. If I were in their shoes, I’d be a lot more concerned about people who only bring me “nice.” Sometimes you have to wonder what’s really going on behind the scenes.

An African friend of mine thinks Americans are a little too “nice” when it comes to honesty. I had a recent conversation with a professional who had to give me bad news. He delayed about four hours on a very important day when I was attempting to gather key information to make a decision. When I called him, he was sheepish. But his real offense was not communicating a “no.” He actually came close to causing harm by delaying that vital phone call.

Did he hate me? Certainly not. Was he inexperienced in his profession? Possibly. Most likely, he is a product of his polite American Midwestern culture.

I’m a skeptic on calling something “hate.” Jim Martin doesn’t know most of the people behind the insulting posts on his facebook page. Are some of these people hateful? Possibly. But there is no way to tell for sure. It is possible people are angry and frustrated. It is possible Fr Martin is a convenient scapegoat.

Phil Lawler weighed in:

In my own surfing through the internet, reading scores of posts on the Obergefell decision, I can honestly say that I did not see a single message, a single comment, that struck me as hate-filled. Perhaps Father Martin’s email traffic is qualitatively different from mine. Or perhaps—far more likely, I’m afraid—he sees ‘hatred’ where I see only vehement disagreement.

My sense is that many conservative Catholics do not venture far from their comfortable sites. I suspect Mr Lawler’s surfing was in the kiddie pool of trusty, reliable, orthodox sites. Likely not at places like facebook where people on all sides of an issue might intermingle.

Mr Lawler’s blinders filter vehemence. But if he were to disagree with the status quo, I have no doubt he would be the target of insults. Would it be hate? Probably not. Anger? Possibly. He would be getting a message, that’s for sure.

There are also people who have an attraction, fascination, or possibly even an addiction to “vehement” feelings. Some internet people go looking for trouble. And they are satisfied when they find other people–even Catholics–who are insufficiently congruent to themselves.

Another illustrative quote from Mr Lawler:

(I)f we’re going into battle—and we are—we need to know who’s on our side, and who’s working against us.

Sometimes the key campaign is not on the outside–them against us. Sometimes the joker of lies works from within. Sometimes a campaigner will sneak in the walls, past the watch. Sometimes the psalmist is wiser than the culturewar general:

Set a guard, LORD, before my mouth,
keep watch over the door of my lips.

Some people are likely not hate-filled. But they may well have been coopted by the enemy they so vehemently oppose.

To sum up: let’s be prudent about calling out hate. Maybe we don’t mention it at all. Unless we confess it ourselves. And let’s not get deceived that we and our allies are totally virtuous. We all make mistakes and commit sin, and we all fall short and damage those causes which we would hold most dear. My sense is to stick with the virtues. Prudence. Hope. Love. Better weapons and more true than fists and provocations and inaccurate diagnoses.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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