"Where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be proscribed."

I’ll presume to call it Neuhaus’ Law, or at least one of his several
laws: Where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be
proscribed. Some otherwise bright people have indicated their puzzlement
with that axiom but it seems to me, well, axiomatic. Orthodoxy, no
matter how politely expressed, suggests that there is a right and a
wrong, a true and a false, about things. When orthodoxy is optional, it
is admitted under a rule of liberal tolerance that cannot help but be
intolerant of talk about right and wrong, true and false. It is
therefore a conditional admission, depending upon orthodoxy’s good
behavior. The orthodox may be permitted to believe this or that and to
do this or that as a matter of sufferance, allowing them to indulge
their inclination, preference, or personal taste. But it is an
intolerable violation of the etiquette by which one is tolerated if one
has the effrontery to propose that this or that is normative for others.

A
well-mannered church can put up with a few orthodox eccentrics, and can
even take pride in being so very inclusive. “Oh, poor Johnson thinks
we’re all heretics,” says the bishop, chuckling between sips of his
sherry. The bishop is manifestly pleased that there is somebody, even if
it is only poor old Johnson, who thinks he is so adventuresome as to be
a heretic. And he is pleased with himself for keeping Johnson around to
make him pleased with himself. If, however, Johnson’s views had the
slightest chance of prevailing and thereby threatening the bishop’s
general sense of security and well-being, well, then it would be an
entirely different matter.

 Read the rest. (Excellent article)

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