I have been accused by a couple of sensitive souls for being a naughty boy in ridiculing the three Swedish lady bishops a few days back. I suppose I could defend myself by saying that I wasn’t ridiculing them, I was ridiculing their vestments, but that would not be totally honest, for I actually found them ridiculous too.
However, what disappoints me is that I was not criticized for something substantial. By all means criticize me because I deny the validity of their orders and the idea of a woman bishop and the more frightening idea of a lesbian bishop, and by all means prove your point that these women really are dignified successors of the holy apostles. Go to the stake for your belief and defend these wonderful women if wonderful they are.
Instead I am given a milquetoast jab because I have ridiculed them when they are clearly ‘sincere Christian ladies.’ I’m insulted on their behalf by such a criticism. This insult to the Swedish lady bishops is worse than my own for it is damning with faint praise. It is a patronizing and superior sort of comment.
Imagine that the village madman who thinks he is a chevalier goes around spouting poetry and presenting people with weeds for bouquets. Let us imagine that he wears a hat with a plume and carries a sword and fences with invisible enemies. Then the people who are sane say, “There there, at least he is a sincere fellow. He is a good Christian you know.”
Those who are realistic will, when they have stopped laughing at the madman’s antics, have a concern for him and seek to care for him and perhaps cure him of his delusions. The ones who consider him ‘sincere’ have sinned by falling into that most serious silliness–sentimentality. They imagine that by being nice to the madman they are doing him a favor. They are not. All they are doing is humoring him, and that is indeed heartless.
Likewise with the Lutheran Lady Lesbian Bishops. Stand up and defend them if they are right. Go with them into the lion’s den. Declare them to be the worthy pioneers they believe themselves to be. Uphold their feminist creed. Stand by them through thick or thin.
But do not insult them by saying they are ‘sincere Christian ladies.’ The real problem with the virtue of sincerity is that it is nothing without truth. Anyone can be ‘sincere’. A madman is sincere. Snake handlers are sincere. Stalin was sincere; so were all the worlds great ideologues and tyrants. Sincerity on its own is simply sentimentality.
In fact sincerity without truth is scarcely a virtue at all for what is there to be sincere about if there is no truth to be sincere about? Therefore let’s discuss not whether someone is sincere or not. We can assume they are indeed sincere. But let us discuss the truth (or not) of what a person sincerely holds and then we can determine whether their sincerity is worth something or whether it is mere subjectivity and sentimentality, and ultimately something sinister.
PS: Picture shows a woman bishop in pretty cool vestments to make up for the silly one earlier. Unfortunately this woman bishop seems to be a fictional character…