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Community, Dissent, and Power

August 27, 2013

If you can put aside for a moment your opinions about women’s ordination, I want to call attention to an interesting phenomenon demonstrated by this article. That phenomenon is one’s ability to dissent peacefully *within* a community for a long period of time—one’s entire life, for instance.

Sister Ivantic has apparently believed in women’s ordination for her entire career as a nun and even before. And this is clearly very important to her. Yet she willingly chose to live in a community (i..e the Catholic Church) that never promised her a favorable resolution to that issue.

I underscore this because today’s ideologues, within and outside the Church, more often seek purity at the expense of membership. The ideologues willingly part ways with potential allies because of their firm believe in one seemingly unifying issue. Perhaps we’re less fragmented by our beliefs than by leaders who will not tolerant reasonable dissent within communities? And is a logical corollary then true, namely that leaders with super strong beliefs are often set up to be impotent and ineffective?

I’m intrigued here by one’s ability to maintain a communal identity while holding beliefs that seemingly contradict the same. It seems it is not purity that gives a community its power, but rather its ability to tolerate dissent. – TL

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