Dissent Detectors

Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

In Jennifer Fitz’s truly excellent reflection on Pope Francis’ recent series of interviews, she said something that made me laugh—because I recognized myself in it:

I’m sympathetic with those who’ve been poisoned by so much wishy-washy faithy-ism that their dissent-detectors are set to 1 part per billion.

Some day I might write more about my experiences in the Episcopal Church, a landscape of lush beautiful valleys cheek-by-jowl with arid chasms spray-painted green. And yes, I’ve acquired a dissent-detector, and yes, it’s got a hair trigger. It’s a defense mechanism of sorts, and it’s a problem: the false positives can make it difficult to deal with perfectly orthodox Catholics simply because they use words in a way I’ve learned to suspect.

Or, to put it another way, not everything that seems to breathe fire is a dragon.

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