The Hectorate, the league of hectors, is acid on the soul of the Church. These are the public intellectuals that rarely attack the “other team.” Once you seem them, you do not want to be them, and you understand much of what happens. Arguments are not really made, instead some correlation is thrown out and taken to be causation.
What makes a Hector? What if you are above average? Do you have a few credentials? What if you have seen a thing or two? What if “those people” have disappointed you? There is a temptation to hector, an endless complaint about “those people.”
The temptation is real. Hector your opponent: bluff, bluster, and then when the argument begins to go badly appeal to the madness of your crowd to defend you. There are clicks and a career here.
This is an old intellectual game long predating these times and not isolated to any community. Aristophanes used his great gifts as a writer to hector Socrates and helped get him killed. A bully with intellectual swagger is a member of the Hectorate: the bully boys that can kill Socrates, cancel Euripides, or crucify the Son of God to keep the Romans pacified.
The is an Umbridge in every age: the credentialed, accredited, apparatchiks. They have divined the spirit of the age and burn their opponents to honor that deity.
The Hectorate, the society of hectors, exist on the right and the left, wherever there is power to be found. The smallest, least prestigious Bible school in the world will (eventually!) develops a group of Hectors: enforcing boundaries, making sure that people have the “spirit” or DNA of the place. The deacons can devolve into hectoring over something as trivial as the use of church flatware. Hectoring begins when a group knows better and with nothing positive to say begins to lecture.
The way of the non-hector, the path of Socrates, is narrow and few of us find the Way.
The Hectorate can be as a big as a national group or as small as a faction on the parish council.
When we go to a meeting, any meeting, or communicate, even on social media, is most of our messaging good, truth, and beauty? Are we hectoring or godward?
This too, this very complaint of mine, runs the risk of hectoring! One wishes to complain about those hectoring fools, to register dissent, but this can so quickly become whinging, an endless moan that nothing is fair for my own group.
I should not hector about hectoring!
Avoid the Hectorate by refusing to be defined by what you are against, rather than what you love. Avoid the Hectorate by taking unexpected twists and turns in life. Do not buy a program that demands thoughtless obedience to a growing list of outer works, but go to the God who invites you to come and reason.
Against The Hectorate is the Beloved Community: those who love absolutely, even their enemies.
This is a group that makes quilts daily, but keeps the old rifle over the fireplace against evil times. They pray for peace, but fight for justice if they must. The days of quilting, farming, and praying are many, the days of righteous warfare few, but they are ready.
The Beloved Community refuses nobody, hates nobody, loves everyone. This definition, looking, talking, writing, singing, most often of goodness, truth, and beauty keeps the community from the Hectorate. The Hectorate produces parody art of opponents to mic drop them or propaganda to convert them. The Beloved Community produces art to find beauty, lifts up Jesus, drawing all to Him.
If we wish to live in the Beloved Community, then we, as college educators, cannot leave students with usurious debts. We cannot keep part-time faculty in endless peonage. We must live in God’s beauty, telling the truth about human frailty with mercy.
The prophets spoke the truth, but out of love for the listener. The Hectorate sometimes speaks truths, but out of disdain, almost tangible loathing, of the listener. Lord help us love… even our enemies!
Choose today to join the Beloved Community. The Hectorate may win the age, the Beloved sits in eternity in safety for all time.