C O U R S E L E C T U R E
Toleration and Tolerance
Notes taken on March 3, 2014 by Edward Tanguay
tolerance and intolerance
we use these words to characterize individual people or whole societies
these are more or less black and white terms, they are polar
we rarely think of people as being "sort of tolerant"
in most contexts, tolerance is good and intolerance bad
we usually ascribe these terms to the majority in a society and not the minority
we usually think of minorities as either victims of the intolerance by the majority or enjoying the tolerance of the majority
usually are associated with oppression and discrimination on one side and openness and kindness on the other
historians very often point out examples of intolerance
Judaism was the only religion that the Roman Catholic Church tolerated over the centuries
sought to create a homogeneous society with one conception of God, of religion, or the social order
nevertheless, they tolerated an odd group of infidels who rejected the basic tenets of Catholic theology
why were the Jews tolerated at all within the Catholic world
more than a text or doctrine
we find examples of intolerance in religious texts and we project this to the society as a whole
but we shouldn't do this if we want to know how a religion functions within a society
religious leaders don't necessarily dictate social practice
religious leaders often have to run in front of where the society is moving
when we talk about a religious society, we are not talking about the doctrines of that religion which are expressed in religious texts, but the way in which religious ideas are activated in practice
what circumstances allow certain religious doctrines to be expressed and acted upon, and in which cases allow religious doctrines to be forgotten or ignored?
It's not enough to know what the doctrine is, what the text is, what the preacher says, but also, what do people do.
we are going to read religious words but ask a non-religious question about them, we are going to assume that these words were of divine significance and supreme and overwhelming meaning, but we're not going to look at them that way.
this approach is called the sociology of religion