Shirin McArthur

prayerful pondering

Intolerance

2 Comments


I’m trying out some new gluten-free recipes for a group I share dinner with each month. Two of the members are gluten-intolerant, and two are also avoiding dairy. During the summer, it’s easy; I make flavorful homemade sorbets and sherbets (using almond, coconut or rice milk). Even though the weather is quite balmy in New Mexico these days (58 degrees as I type; I’ve been outside in the yard, and will head back out there again soon!), it’s a bit too chilly in the evening for ice cream.

Checking recipes and ingredients (and the internet to make sure that corn starch is gluten free), I found myself thinking about the word “intolerant.”

These days I hear the word being used regularly in regard to a body’s intolerance of substances that we eat, smell or use to clean. Someone told me that the rise in gluten intolerance can be traced to the increase in gluten levels in genetically-modified wheat; it’s more than our bodies are genetically prepared to handle. Others say that people are developing sensitivities to—intolerance of—the very air they breathe because of the number of pollutants present within it.

When I was growing up, the word “intolerant” generally referred to someone who was intolerant of people of other races. Someone had made a determination about a person’s worth based on something, such as race, that the person could not change. But it referred to a state of mind, and the subtext often included the assumption that someone could change her or his mind and become “tolerant.”

Jesus was intolerant of very little…but he did have his boundaries. He said that it was what came out of people’s mouths, rather than what went into them, that determined their character. He was intolerant of hypocrisy, especially in the religious leaders around him. You could say he was intolerant of intolerance (how’s that for a paradox!?); after all, he treated Samaritans the same way he did his fellow Jews.

Of what are you intolerant? How do you justify it?

How might you practice the paradoxical discipline of being intolerant of intolerance?

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2 thoughts on “Intolerance

  1. Intolerance can come in many guises. Thanks, Shirin for making this an awareness practice. And, perhaps it is the intolerance in ourselves, not the intolerant that we need to focus on.

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  2. You’re welcome, Rhoda. Yes, indeed, I believe that we need to pay attention to the intolerance in ourselves…that’s why it’s a paradox!

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