Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tolerance: The Definition Has Changed

Tolerance: The Definition Has Changed

The New Oxford American Dictionary has not caught up with the change, but the modern, popular definition of "tolerance" is radically different (I believe, dangerously perverted) from the "old" meaning.

Oxford defines TOLERATE as "allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of (something that one does not necessarily like or agree with) without interference". The word originated in the early 16th century from "tolerare", Latin for "enduring pain".

TOLERANCE is the ability or willingness to tolerate something, to "endure the pain" of the existence of something.

What is the new definition?

According to D. A. Carson, "tolerance" has changed from accepting that lots of people have different views, some of which are wrong, to agreeing that all views are equally true.

What difference does this make?

A diametric difference!

Mark Driscoll recently wrote an essay about the changing definition of "tolerance" that helps explain the ground-shifting difference between the "old tolerance" and the "new tolerance".

The old view of tolerance was based upon three assumptions:

  1. There is objective truth that can be known,
  2. People believe they know what that objective truth is, and
  3. Disagreements, dialogues and debate will give everyone an opportunity to learn, grow, change and possible arrive together at the truth.

The new view of tolerance refutes all three assumptions:

  1. There is no objective truth than can be known,
  2. People do not have the truth but only what they believe to be the truth, and
  3. Disagreements, dialogues and debate are useless and lead to needless conflicts and prejudices

Anyone else notice how intolerant the "new tolerance" appears?

It denies moral absolutes by holding to the moral absolute that there is no moral absolute.

It denies that anyone knows any truth.

It denies discussion or debate.

If "tolerance" truly has changed its meaning for us, is that because there is no other word that accurately represents the new meaning, or is it because there is no better way to change people's minds than by controlling word definitions?

What other English word captures the intent of the "new tolerance"? What other word means to agree with every opinion and to discourage disagreement or debate?


That's it. The modern world's highest virtue has become "agreeability". One person says coffee, and all the world must say coffee. Another says yes, and all the world must say yes.

Even as I write this I must make my examples benign, lest others erupt in hostile "tolerance". When a person's value or power is threatened by disagreement or debate, their response is to gather a mob and throw stones.

The other word that comes to mind at this point is "insanity". Conformity to a common opinion of coffee versus tea will never happen for humans. Why do we think it can happen with morality? We will never reach a concensus concerning some moral opinions. We will never be without the need to disagree, dialogue and debate.

If you wish for no conflict, don't call it "tolerance". Call it for what it is: "agreement".


Photo credit: stevendepolo via photopin cc

Sunday, July 14, 2013

New Door

New Door

Here's some pix of a new door I installed in our new home:

Inline image 2Inline image 1

I mounted a bipass track on the living room side of the opening, hung a 32-inch hollow-core door, and concealed the track with a 1x6 piece of hemlock.

Applied a thick coat of oil with a rag, let it set for about 10 minutes, then buffed it smooth with another clean rag. The next day I did the same to add a second coat. Being impatient and pushed for time, I installed it. It feels smooth and dry, kind of a satin finish. The instructions on the tung oil container said to add daily coats to get a glossier finish.

My next project is a kitty litter cabinet. We want to conceal our kitty litter box in the house. We've seen several examples:

We bought a 24-inch bathroom vanity cabinet at Home Depot. I'll replace the sink top with a piece of nice birch plywood, edged with a strip of hemlock, finished with tung oil. The cabinet is painted white. I'll cut a hole in the side of the cabinet and install a kitty door:

I'm so excited about having a work schedule, and space, to work on woodworking projects! We invested in a nice compact table saw...I think it will be good enough for what I'll need it for, and it's small enough to fit in our storage unit:

Friday, February 1, 2013

Not A Big Fan Of Sports

Not A Big Fan Of Sports

I'm not a big fan of sports

I barely glance at the sports section of the newspaper, and that brief look is only to see if the comics are hidden inside that section.

However, I'm not sure that I should publicly reveal this critical moral failure of mine. I have (had, up until this moment?) many friends who are huge fans of sports, all kinds, any weather, any time.

I honestly try not to allow my disinterest to appear as dislike of those who enjoy sports. I DON'T dislike you! I just find it extremely hard to share in your joy. But that doesn't mean that I'm not glad that you joy in it.

I've heard that there's a big game scheduled this Sunday. I actually attended a Super Bowl party one time. The food was great! By taking a moment here and there to stop crunching on chips and dip I was able to listen intently to the running commentary of the true fans in the room, and I could sort of keep up with who was playing, and whether "our team" was ahead.

I'm sorry. This is getting hard. I can feel the aura of disapproval and pity from all my sports-loving friends. I'll stop soon, I promise.

Anyway, here's a great post by Barnabas Piper regarding the moral conflict that may be gripping many of you even now:

Is it wrong to skip church in favor of a Super Bowl party?

Barnabas offers a very reasonable answer that is encouraging, even for me!

Keep in mind, as you consider whether to check out his article: Barnabas is a huge fan of sports.


super bowl 034 by djnaquin67, Creative Commons License, horribly mangled and misused by the author!

Friday, January 25, 2013



Six out of ten is not so good!

I realized that out of this list of 10 Things Your Boss Never Wants to Hear I've violated six of them over the years.

It's hard for me to put myself easily in the Boss's shoes. I'm more of an Assistant-to-the-Boss-type of worker. I prefer to do, rather than delegate others to do. So it's hard for me to avoid acting like a jerk, especially hard to avoid being obnoxious in my mind and heart, even while portraying a calm, content appearance on the outside.

Good reminder of what's important to my boss, and thus important to me, as an employee!

10 Things Your Boss Never Wants to Hear

Business Greg is businesslike by Greg Younger, Creative Commons Licence

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Calm and Intelligent Discussion

Calm and Intelligent Discussion

In a single, illuminating moment this image expressed a frustration I've felt many times: It's hard for me to compete in break-room discussions.

Typically I find myself on the fringes of the discussion, participating inwardly only, hesitant to jump into the fray, reluctant to appear as hardheadedly opinionated as some of the others, although I know that I actually am hardheadedly opinionated in many ways.

I just don't want to look like it.

It's extremely difficult for me to respond immediately to controversial issues. I'm unable to recall any of the succinct, brilliant one-lines that can stop bickering and posturing in their tracks. The times that I've yielded to emotion and expressed myself cannot be properly described as "expressing myself". My words are halting, my logic confused, my sources unknown, my knees shaking.

Here's how I wish break-room discussions would go: someone sincerely concerned in my opinion would notice my silence. They would make a mental note to corner me and ask me about the issue. The corner in which they entrap me would have chairs for each of us (my opinions take time to express adequately). My interviewer would be emotionally invested in the issue, but truly interested in my perspective and experience. The discussion would be two-way, with both of us learning something new, both of us leaving encouraged by the other.

There are several problems with my "ideal discussion". It takes much time. It requires a quiet corner. It's liable to attract attention from idle gossips or recreational debaters.

It's also impractical, with little connection to reality.

All the historical figures whom I admire had often to put themselves on the edge of controversy, without the luxury of a quiet corner, chairs or a calm and intelligent interviewer. If a topic is worth spending much time discussing, if it's something important and influential, something with serious consequences, it's something that involves all of a person: head, heart, body and soul. The important things in life should make us shake inside, either with rage or rejoicing, and that shaking will affect our voice, our knees and our emotion.

Still, I really like this sign.

Anyone want to talk about it?

Image of protest sign provided, no attribution available. If this is your sign, or if you photographed this sign, let's talk about it.