America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance.from Old Labels and New Errors, written by Fulton Sheen, in 1931....
It is not. It is suffering from tolerance: tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos.
Our country is not nearly so much overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broad-minded.
The man who can make up his mind in an orderly way... is called a bigot; but a man who cannot make up his mind... is called tolerant and broad-minded.
A bigoted man is one who refuses to accept a reason for anything; a broad-minded man is one who will accept anything for a reason—providing it is not a good reason.
It is true that there is a demand for precision, exactness, and definiteness, but it is only for precision in scientific measurement, not in logic. The breakdown that has produced this natural broad-mindedness is mental, not moral.
The science of religion has a right to be heard scientifically through its qualified spokesmen, just as the science of physics or astronomy has a right to be heard through its qualified spokesmen...
Religion has its principles, natural and revealed, which are more exacting in their logic than mathematics. But the false notion of tolerance has obscured this fact from the eyes of many who are as intolerant about the smallest details of life as they are tolerant about their relations to God.
Another evidence of the breakdown of reason that has produced this weird fungus of broad-mindedness is the passion of novelty, as opposed to the love of truth.
Truth is sacrificed for an epigram; bending the knee to the mob rather than God would probably make them scruple at ever playing the role of John the Baptist before a modern Herod.
No accusing finger would be leveled at a divorce or one living in adultery; no voice would be thundered in the ears of the rich, saying with something of the intolerance of Divinity: “It is not lawful for thee to live with thy brother’s wife.” Rather would we hear: “Friends, times are changing!”
...The final argument for modern broad-mindedness is that truth is novelty and hence “truth” changes with the passing fancies of the moment.…
Like the chameleon that changes his colors to suit the vesture on which he is placed, so truth is supposed to change to fit the foibles and obliquities of the age.
The nature of certain things is fixed, and none more so than the nature of truth. Truth may be contradicted a thousand times, but that only proves that it is strong enough to survive a thousand assaults. ...
The giggling giddiness of novelty, the sentimental restlessness of a mind unhinged, and the unnatural fear of a good dose of hard thinking, all conjoin to produce a group of sophomoric latitudinarians who think there is no difference between God as Cause and God as a “mental projection”; who equate Christ and Buddha, and then enlarge their broad-mindedness into a sweeping synthesis that says not only that one Christian sect is as good as another, but even that one world-religion is just as good as another.
The great god “Progress” is then enthroned on the altars of fashion, and as the hectic worshippers are asked, “Progress toward what?” the tolerant comes back with “More progress.”
All the while sane men are wondering how there can be progress without direction and how there can be direction without a fixed point. And because they speak of a “fixed point”, they are said to be behind the times, when really they are beyond the times mentally and spiritually.
...In the face of this false broadmindedness, what the world needs is intolerance.
The world seems to have lost entirely the faculty of distinguishing between good and bad, the right and the wrong.
There are some minds that believe that intolerance is always wrong, because they make “intolerance” mean hate, narrow-mindedness, and bigotry.
These same minds believe that tolerance is always right because, for them, it means charity, broadmindedness, and American good nature.
What is (real) tolerance?
Tolerance is an attitude of reasoned patience toward evil and a forbearance that restrains us from showing anger or inflicting punishment.
But what is more important than the definition is the field of its application.
The important point here is this: Tolerance applies only to persons, but never to truth.
Intolerance applies only to truth, but never to persons.
Tolerance applies to the erring; intolerance to the error.
America is suffering not so much from intolerance, which is bigotry, as it is from tolerance, which is indifference to truth and error, and a philosophical nonchalance that has been interpreted as broad-mindedness.
headsup Father Z