“An Taiseirl” (The Resurrection), Noirin Ni Riain & The Monks of Glenstal Abbey, from the album “Vox de Nube”, 1996.
Father Jerry J. Pokorsky is a priest of the Diocese of Arlington. He is pastor of Saint Michael the Archangel Church in Annandale, Virginia.
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The other day I heard a radio commercial advertising “sedation dentistry.” The reworking of your teeth takes place in one session while you are asleep. You meet first with the doctor for a “non-judgmental” evaluation. When he inspects your crooked and missing teeth, he promises, he won’t gasp in horror or give you a lecture. He’s certainly not revealing an inability to properly evaluate teeth by refusing to judge the condition of our smiles. But the term is ambiguous and it’s contrary, “judgmental,” has become, increasingly, a dread weapon of moral destruction.
Many people today also expect religion to be “non-judgmental.” Self-esteem, apparently, is in short supply at the moment. So there is a demand that priests (and ministers – and imams?) be inspiring and vibrant and – above all – non-judgmental. All this, in order to enable us to “feel good about ourselves” – regardless of behavior.
Someone recently told me about a Catholic religion teacher who was called by a concerned parent. The teacher was presenting the Catholic faith in a methodical fashion. An upcoming topic was to be love and marriage. The parent wanted assurances that his young daughter would not be taught that the lesbian lifestyle of her older sister is immoral.
If the younger sister came home with a crisp understanding of Christian marriage, she would become hopelessly “judgmental” – a truly horrible person – at least in Dad’s judgment. And she might even find herself denied entry to one or more colleges on the basis of her “intolerance.” You see, believing and living the Catholic faith is “judgmental” and it ruins education – and careers.
The demand for non-judgmental authority figures, however, defies logic. If a criminal tries to break into your house and you call 911 for assistance, you wouldn’t want a “non-judgmental” police officer to be dispatched to accompany the burglar on his journey. In small claims court where you sue to retrieve a $500 over-charge, you wouldn’t want the magistrate to be “non-judgmental.” When a doctor discovers a dangerous cancer that needs immediate treatment, the last thing you want is someone who is “non-judgmental.”
Indeed, “non-judgmental” authority figures under these circumstances would be negligent – perhaps criminally so. Lobbyists for a “non-judgmental” morality would agree, but in so doing they render the term “non-judgmental” unintelligible, except as a “new morality” code word.
God created the mind to think and distinguish clearly and make judgments with sufficient evidence. Making judgments with insufficient evidence is usually sinfully rash (although sometimes even that isn’t sinful – ask any anti-terrorist investigator who may have to act on the best evidence available, to keep us safe). The inability or refusal to judge is either virtuous or vicious. We are unable to judge, for example, the state of a person’s soul. We will never have sufficient evidence to judge whether anyone is condemned to Hell. God alone judges a person’s soul. This is why Jesus Himself teaches, “Judge not and ye will not be judged.” … (read the rest of the article here)
“Judge Not …” perhaps these two words are just about the most difficult instruction of Christ to follow. And yet as soon as that kind of judgement comes in, love goes out of whatever situation is being faced. It is obvious all around us that the first thing that happens is folks start judging the actions and especially the motives of other folks. From the petty annoyances of everyday family life to the big picture events we see and hear about and read in the media and everything in between.
Socially, it has become “bad behaviour” to even think of judging, especially judging the folks who demand that everyone and everywhere we be impartially “non-judgemental” about everything , especially moral choices. Nowadays no-one wants to be reminded of their bad behaviour or disturbed from their worship of the image in the pool. What is Truth? What are the consequences of bad choices? Who is responsible for the bad outcomes?
Even using the word “bad” is judgemental. Who says X,Y, or Z is “bad”? From whence comes the authority to proclaim someone else’s “bad”. Yup, “judging” folks is the really, really big faux pas of modern English culture. And I have yet to meet the person who is able to separate themselves from the action in question. It all a personal attack and the offender is to be immediately nuked in retaliation for being “judgemental”. How can we even begin to deal with problems and offenses, with situations and consequences, when to even utter a word about causal relations is taken by the actors as the only “real” offense?
But the emperor is still naked. (Oooops, My Bad, I’m being judgemental again)