Hannity and Those Who Judge Him

Jonah and the NRO-reading Catholic priests are refuting a point I wasn’t making. Which is understandable, because the point they are attacking is very easy and fun to refute–certainly a lot easier and more fun than confronting the meaning of “judge not lest you be judged.” If what Jesus meant by this phrase was, “No opinion is better than any other,” then he would have been abolishing human intellectual discourse. Or, to paraphrase Jonah: “If the average guy’s opinion is as good as that of the experts–e.g., Church officials, accountants, copyeditors–then, heavens to Betsy, it’s going to be a Revolution in which Anything Goes: Dogs and cats living together, and atonal music in the streets.”   But of course Jesus was not doing something as silly as that: He was, rather, challenging people to look into their hearts and get right with God. We all make judgments, he was saying, but are these judgments really made in the interests of truth and the good of our neighbor–or are they merely an opportunity to bully people and boost our self-image? What Jesus was confronting in His own time was the problem of the Pharisees–people who stood up for the Law but had lost in too great a degree the spirit of charity toward neighbor. Jesus judged that they had lost their way. In our own time, Jesus is asking us to look at every single judgment we make, and be honest with ourselves about the spirit in which we’re making it.   This is a message our culture desperately needs to hear–because the effort to make intelligent decisions in life (provisional “judgments”) is being drowned out by the noise pollution of self-righteousness (judgmentalism). Thousands of left-wing bloggers will gleefully point out that Sean Hannity is a hypocrite for invoking the “judge not” phrase, when he himself is so uncharitable on his show to people who disagree with him. (Andrew Sullivan has already chimed in: “A right-wing Catholic is hoist by own theocon petard.”) I personally have made the “judgment” that Hannity was wrong to “judge” that Fr. Euteneuer was being “judgmental” in the bad sense; I think Euteneuer was simply stating what Catholic doctrine is, and he was correct on the question and Hannity wasn’t. But in the end, this “judgment” of mine, plus a token, will get you on the subway. What’s important is that Hannity invoked–before a national audience–a principle that Jesus taught and that we need to understand. Does Sean always live by that principle? No, and neither do I. But we are both “works in progress,” and doing our best to live by the true meaning of “judge not” will help us in that progress.

Michael Potemra — Michael Potemra was born in Youngstown, Ohio, in 1964, and spent his childhood years in Montreal, Canada. He received a B.A. in philosophy at the Catholic University of America. He ...

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