I like to think I'm a tolerant person. I also like to think I'm a long legged, blue eyed, thirty five year old stunner, yet only one of those is true. I'm not what you would call oblivious exactly, but I can have an air of unawareness about myself that occasionally requires a double round robin in my mind before I figure things out.
I'm a Bible belt baby, born right into the buckle you could say. My grandmothers were church ladies, my dad was a pillar everyone leaned on, and my brother is a Southern Baptist minister. It can make things prickly around here because I challenge him in ways that make him want to check his christianity at the door. It happens, but only when I'm the lone witness, and the target. Aaand there it is... my point.
Don is the same stiff-necked angry kid he always was, working very hard to disappear into the persona of someone he can admire. He carries a club of absolute certainty, put to use on his Christian mission to 'save' people from something -- themselves? the devil? a fate worse than death? hellfire? eternal damnation? I don't know for sure and I'm pretty certain no one alive on the planet knows either, but in his black and white world, he knows that if you don't believe what he tells you about it, then you, my friend, are doomed. The friendly reference is pejorative.
He and his fellow salvation experts have recently returned from the Philippines where they carried the torch of righteousness to the natives, who needed The Good Word dumped all over them like so much leftover baptismal water. When he announced the trip, I asked if it was still 1845. (ding)
After a 30 hour trek to the mission field, he realized the Philippines is the 3rd largest English speaking nation in the world, they've already heard it all, and that the kids are in it for the free popcorn, having long ago perfected speedy grab-and-runs at the start of the nightly evangelization-of-the world film.
In the later telling of his adventure, he played down a case of the Tagalog Two-Step (which his wife had reported as incapacitating and I still don't know why I thought that was funny), and talked about the good that had been accomplished through bible studies, local pastors, and general schmoozing with the heathen. Meanwhile, I'm inquiring 'but what did you DO?', thinking rehabing a school, providing supplies to a medical clinic, or building a street kitchen might have been a good way to share the spirit of Christ. 'We're Christians, this is what we do. We help people'. (ding)
I was reassured that 'based on this experience we are absolutely convinced the Filipinos have awesome opportunities in reaching Asia for Christ. They not only have the looks of Asians and blend in to other Asian countries; they have everything needed to be effective missionaries.'
Ding!Ding!Ding! My opponent is in the ring!
Girl, you bein' intolerant / Nooo, I'm fighting intolerance / No you ain't / Am too / You better shut up 'for you get him lathered up / Too late. (Wanda Sykes lives in my head).
The righteous stance of bible thumping Christians who feel their way is not just the best way, but the only way to 'salvation' (they seem to have staked out a corner on that word) strikes the highest and shrillest note there is on my intolerance meter if those things can be measured on a universal scale. Likewise, there are radical Muslims who believe an eternal reward for wiping out infidels are 72 houri (virgin super-models), 144,000 Mormons who believe they are the chosen who will rise up to heaven, and adherents to the theories of L. Ron Hubbard's Scientology faith who are looking to Xenu, Dictator of The Galactic Confederacy, to come back and get them.
At the end of the day, Wanda asks, what's the difference between tolerating this one, the same as you tolerate all the rest?
If I get worked up over the judgement my brother regularly serves up to non-believers and different-believers, why don't I get anguished by any of the others? It would seem I am being, um, a little...intolerant.
I had to thank Wanda for pointing out it's not directed so much at the preaching going on 'out there' as it is toward my brother, who is right up in my bizness. It's the personal aspect of feeling reviewed and dismissed by someone I care about because he delivers his low regard for me on a cross shaped platter. Don is no respecter of differences.
I'm taking my own medicine to cure my intolerance. From The Four Agreements --> be centered in yourself, don't make it personal.
In the best of all possible afterworlds, perhaps it is what we believe that we receive. In that case, there'll be a happy ending for every single one of us. We will all finally get to be right about something.
Namaste my little brother.