Orthodoxy in Public

In this morning’s Washington Post, Amanda Bennett has written an article on bias that is well worth reading. She raises the question, and fuels it with strong and reasonable “what ifs” regarding the interaction of certain religious orthodoxies that in our daily public life are experienced by women as prejudicial.

That was her focus, and it set in motion in my mind the following cluster of questions and concerns. Orthodoxy functions as an internal  tribal brand denoting that the members of a particular group belong to one particular belief system. Her example provides an illustration regarding a religious attitude towards women, but the branding can function just as well in any other belief system: economic, legal, political, or social. It is the flag of “how we do things” and the demarcation of a social geography. In that reality we are functionally owned by what we believe.

And therein is the problem orthodoxy experiences and presents when that flag is waved in a public place. This country hosts a multitude of unwaved flags. We live with a dedication to the value of this plurality of beliefs. In that kind of social reality, an orthodoxy that disrespects in any way the members of the larger community needs to stay protected and honored, at home.

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