Fake open-mindedness, diversity, tolerance, otherness

I like this from The Catholic Thing:

The Anti-Catholic Catholic

By Randall Smith [who teaches theology at the University of St. Thomas, Houston.]

Several weeks back, I published a column in this space suggesting that in our current pluralistic, multi-cultural worship of the alienated, victimized “other,” some are more “other” than others. Some “otherness” gets you respect and a kind of special veneration, while other sorts of “otherness” – uncool “otherness” – earns you contempt.

It’s simply not true that our culture embraces all diversity; no, people usually embrace the sorts of diversity they like or that make them feel especially “open-minded.” And to be especially “open-minded” and “accepting” of “otherness,” one has to embrace things distinctly different from oneself, which tends to make us look too kindly on some groups just because they’re different, while looking with contempt on others closer to us for no other reason than they’re not different enough.


He goes on to apply this to Catholic colleges, but we can apply it nearly anywhere.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Gus Barbarigo says:

    Tattered Christendom is experiencing a period of great doubt. When the Apostles doubted, even after the resurrection, Jesus offered His parting words, which were essentially commandments to teach and pray. Matt. 28:16-20. More and better prayer, catechesis, and liturgical practice, will lead to greater fear of the Lord, which will lead to more prevalent wisdom among more people; there will be a greater abundance of other graces like fortitude.

    A Church Militant needs spiritual armor to be discerning and confident.

    But we have to want to pray; we have to actively pray for graces and strength. I fear we might need a chastisement to get enough of us to want to sufficiently pray and catechize again.

  2. Imrahil says:

    I allow myself to disagree with one thing.

    I admit to being a bit confused by such people: not so much by their dislike of Catholicism. Catholicism is hard. It’s different. It’s counter-cultural. But I’m puzzled by their propensity to seek out and accept jobs at Catholic universities.

    By that I’m not confused. To begin with it’s a matter of heavy dispute whether Catholicism is either hard or in reality opposed to a country’s culture; but I’ll leave that away and just say that Catholicism does indeed sometimes appear so.

    But even so – the Catholic knows and feels with all his heart and every bone that Catholic Christianity is the one truths and that all the rest are deviations to the least.

    There is this attitude around that says “if you don’t like it with us, go elsewhere” and – if I may humbly speculate so – it seems to be a specifically American attitude, which gets widespread today because America is a cultural hegemon and also a example in orthodox faith to Europe (and I’m not able to take Asia and Africa into account). For America is, for better or worse, the country of Christian denominational pluralism.
    But this attitude, despite it’s natural enough that we’re ennerved by the dissenters and just want them to go away [“just go to the other side of the Berlin Wall”, as young (supposed) Communists were mocked some decades ago in Germany], this attitude is not really correct. The dissident Catholic knows that uncatholic means incorrect (although he might not say so because it is not en vogue to say so, etc.); and that’s why he’ll present within Catholicism what he perceives as correct. Indeed he is even right in that anything correct is Catholic too.

    They must be shown that their mother is not an unloving parent; and that their different ideas are objectively incorrect. Or, for the sake of the common good, they must be punished according to canon law for failing to see and/or accept it.

    But let’s not punish them for the one thing at least that is good about their attitude, viz. that despite not saying so, they do indeed feel what St. Peter put into the words: “Where else shall we go? For thou hast words of eternal life.”

  3. teomatteo says:

    “And to be especially “open-minded” and “accepting” of “otherness,” one has to embrace things distinctly different from oneself, …”
    This falling over oneself to respect the ‘other’ as a proof of one’s openmindedness is taken to a rather odd level when… A liberal minded family member does the ‘eye roll’ and mock twang voice thing when i discuss a latin mass i attended. She shows no respect for the (her) Catholic tradition but will fall over herself if a jewish friend of hers tells her that she has discovered her heritage and is attending a synagogue and actually learning hebrew. Or if a friend of hers were to take a long extended vacation to Italy with the intention of learning italian. My liberal minded family member would be SOOOoooo supportive of her. She’d fall over herself praising up the desire to learn such a romantic and beautiful language. (never a snide comment that her friend is not even italian or that she’ll just lose the language once she’s back in the States.) Or if a coworker started wearing a hajib (sp?) because she discovered her arabic/islamic roots. My liberal family member would say: ‘cool’. But for a catholic to be drawn to the latin mass because of the beauty, the language because its the language of our faith, the chapel veil because of the tradition? She is closed minded. nothe’n but mockery for the catholic.

  4. dominic1955 says:

    The “tolerance and diversity” type liberal is the most pathetic fascist of all. At least Mussolini and Hitler were open about their totalitarianism and knew what they were doing.

    It is a wholly incoherent position-I am supposedly about tolerance and diversity of all persons, ideas, religions, genders, etc. but in reality I am the most intransigent dogmatist when it comes to my rejection of those persons who aren’t also as loopily empty headed about holding self-contradictory positions as one right choice among right choices. It is like the other silly liberal dogma that you cannot push your values on others. What does it do? Push that one value on all others. Elementary logic fail. Next…

    Especially in today’s world, it is wholly asinine to let yourself be held awestruck with parchment. What are all these advanced degrees worth (in learning) when you have the blind leading the blind?

  5. ndmom says:

    There is an easy answer to the question why Catholic-hating academics accept positions at Catholic colleges — because it was the best available offer. Or, in many cases, the only available offer.

    A nominal Catholic with a PhD in a unmarketable field, such as philosophy or religious studies, doesn’t have many employment options. Most secular universities have very small departments in such fields (especially in theology/religious studies/comparative religion) because of very low demand for those courses. They can go years without hiring any new junior faculty. But many Catholic colleges, even in these benighted times, still require a nominal course or two in theology or philosophy, which means that they will need a few more bodies in the department than at Secular U. And if you are a nominal Catholic willing to check off the “Catholic” box, you might even get a hiring preference at some of those schools. And because you don’t really want to be a high school teacher, or work at Starbucks, or as an adjunct at community colleges, you seek out tenure-track positions at Catholic schools and, if you are lucky enough to get an offer, you hold your nose and take it. Even if it’s in a place like South Bend, which offers few other attractions beyond low housing prices. Once on campus, you establish yourself as one of the “edgy” or “questioning” or “progressive” Catholic faculty members. You pander to undergrads with undemanding but “relevant” courses that will also happen to satisfy those dreary university requirements. You envy your colleagues at more “open-minded” secular schools, and cringe every time you have to reveal your university affiliation at a conference.

    If you had a better option elsewhere, you would have taken it in a heartbeat. But you didn’t, and you don’t.

  6. JKnott says:

    Several years ago I was strongly criticized, by a religious , of not being “open-minded” because I didn’t read “America” magazine. The “counsel” was that I should at least read the book reviews in order to show good will. I took that to a good priest, who made a comment that I can’t help but recollect with a smile. “Too open-minded, flat headed!!!”
    Tolerance, by today’s standards, is not a virtue in our Church.
    Actually, it has been said that there is an element of Freemasonry that has had, as a deliberate aim , to work in Catholic universities There are probably several ‘ isms ‘ that could be added to the list.

  7. Gail F says:

    I thought the piece was great but ndmom also has a great point. University teaching positions are few and far between, and people don’t tend to move around much once they get one. That explains A LOT.

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