I have a new word in my arsenal of labels: “dogmatist.”
The dogmatist cares more for his rationalized conceptual scheme than he does for actual people or things.
I’ve run afoul of two different groups of dogmatists lately and was cast from among their fellowship! (There ain’t no baby in my bathwater!)
The first was a club of Reformed Christians. They accept into their fellowship anyone who claims historic protestantism, though it’s preferable and easier to get along if one is a follower of Calvin in some capacity.
When asked about my denominational leanings, I usually reply: “I’m a Presbyterian but I doubt they’d claim me…” and as funny as that sounds, it’s more and more true as life unfolds — (leading me to conclude that I might not be a Presbyterian at all!) Whatever the truth, it was enough to get me into the club.
I associated with these folks for a few weeks, during which I made a few “friends”.
Though, it wasn’t long before a witch (not only does this woman practice the Craft, you wouldn’t be off imagining her with a wart-encrusted nose and pointy hat–her attitude matching the metaphorical outfit) arrived and informed everyone that, between the two of us, my company was the less-preferable due to my “jaw-dropping” outlook on matters of race.
(We had met previously, the witch and I, an occasion that I recall happily. Any chance I get to put a feminist pagan in her place, I take enthusiastically. And like any woman-scorned, she remembered my offense and broadcasted a witchy caricature all around the club.)
Of course, the charge that I was a “racist” simply couldn’t be true, could it Shotgun?
I was given all of two minutes to respond to the accusation, after which my “friends” of the past two weeks proceeded to call me “moron,” “fool,” “dork,” and other, less-flattering, terms, before damning me to Hell and removing me (permanently, it seems) from their fellowship.
The witch? She attends the club to this day and endures civil attempts at evangelism. (I’m sure if they adequately present pagan-Christ to her, she’ll have no reservations about signing up!) Isn’t it ironic? Our ancestors dunked witches to get a confession, these days when a witch is dunked, it’s a baptism!
These “Reformitards” suffer all sorts of evil: atheists, witches and democrats, but the one person they can not and will not suffer, is a “racist.”
Makes you wonder about their real passion in life.
The other group of whom I ran afoul are similar, though persuaded of a different rationalistic scheme. They were, by and large, of the Charismatic variety. Many believed their flamboyant pastor (who functions almost like a cult leader) can magically heal cancerous tumors with a simple flick of his limp, effeminate wrist.
Apparently though, he’s powerless to heal the fact that I’m a white, Christian male, cast in the image of old Europe. Off that sort of man, his powers rebound with pious screeches compelling him to damn the poor creature or at least, break fellowship with it.
And, break fellowship we did. (Though afterwards, others who had been similarly cast out, contacted me, offering friendship and condolences. There are, at least, a small number of folks out there who aren’t heart-and-soul dogmatists, but care about actual people.)
That’s the rub! The dogmatist is capable of evil, wickedness and cruelty, all masquerading in the guise of pious duty to his rational scheme.
I blame Mr. Cambria for all my troubles. Mostly, because if it weren’t for him, I would still be a dogmatist myself (and Presbyterians the world over would welcome me into their fellowship, especially if I was accompanied by a negress! Presbos need negros, you know!)
He taught me that I was a human but not just a human, an antique-European man. And that being a human is a good thing. It’s not something we’re to transcend. It’s a gift and a very profound one. God made us men, not spirit-less abstractions!
Mr. Cambria says he used to teach English (or something like that). He’s found a student in me, if no one else (though I’m sure there’s plenty better-suited to grasp his themes than a farm-boy from North Carolina.) He cites Walter Scott’s novel “Old Mortality” where the character John Balfour takes on the role of the dogmatist, and violates Christian chivalry:
“In every century of the Christian era of Europe there were blasphemers who championed the forms of the faith against the substance of the faith. Walter Scott depicts such a “Christian” in his novel Old Mortality. John Balfour, a fanatical Scottish Covenanter, violates the law of chivalry, which was written in the hearts of all Christian Europeans, by killing, in the name of his mind-forged Christless faith, a Christian soldier of the royalist party who came to Balfour bearing a flag of truce.
“A free pardon to all,” continued the young officer, still addressing the body of the insurgents—“to all but—“
“Then the Lord grant grace to thy soul. Amen!” said Burley.
With these words he fired, and Cornet Richard Grahame dropped from his horse. The shot was mortal. The unfortunate young gentleman had only strength to turn himself on the ground and mutter forth, “My poor mother!” when life forsook him in the effort. His startled horse fled back to the regiment at the gallop, as did his scarce less affrighted attendant.
“What have you done?” said one of Balfour’s brother officers.
“My duty,” said Balfour firmly. “Is it not written, ‘Thou shalt be zealous even to slaying’? Let those who dare NOW venture to speak of truce or pardon!”
Ironically, I used to attend a Scottish Covenanter church (when I lived in Washington D.C.) Looking back, I could see myself turning into a Balfour.
But no matter how many Balfours shoot me (and there are many, lining up for the opportunity) I’ll soldier on. What else can we do? Give in to cynicism and despair?
But, no. If Mr. Cambria’s taught us nothing else, it’s that the antique-European doesn’t give in to those things.
So, I’ll keep trying. How else will the Balfours get their target practice?