We are pulled along, mesmerized and almost automated, going 65—over the speed limit, but we keep up with the flow of traffic. We take in our fellow travelers and learn what they want to teach us about themselves by noting the make of their cars, perhaps the ornament that hangs over the dash, the identity they announce on their vanity plates and their convictions and beliefs professed on bumper stickers…. Despite all the efforts, I still register fear. It feels impersonal. Streaming along here, we do indeed seem to be “a fragmented society,” each of us isolated and sealed into our tins, each of us vaguely aware that we want something more, something to live by and a way to live it fully and in community, something beyond the business of mere survival.
Tolerance is the opposite of judgmentalism and bigotry, and it involves acceptance and sympathy. It applies both to ourselves and to others. It is the ability to embrace our own faults and weaknesses, as well as our gifts and strengths. This does not mean that we must condone or like them, but that we accept them as they exist in the present. Externally, tolerance signifies the ability to allow and indulge other people, beliefs, or activities that may differ from our own, to make room for them as part of a complex, varied, and dynamic world, rather than judging and excluding them.
The real business of the Church is not just what is sometimes called ‘surplice work.’ Its business is to bind us together—the learned and simple, the strong and the weak—in a great social act of love and worship; to provide a home for the nurturing of the spiritual life. For we cannot get on alone, in religion or anything else. Our spiritual life must be a social life too. We can each only manage a bit of it—it is far too big and various in its richness for any one soul…. Wonder and love are caught, not taught; and to catch them we must be in an atmosphere where we are sure to find the germs. A living Church ought to be full of the germs of wonder and love.
How should one live?
Jesus risked reputation and dignity in order to love—risked loving even a sinner. O God who risks everything to love, show us compassion that does not count the cost, and teach us to share it without hesitation.