Untimely Reflections on ‘Hate’

Brad Miner | January 22, 2024

It’s never easy to bring unwelcome truths into the public realm. And it’s become increasingly difficult, for obvious reasons, since the advent of the Internet – to say nothing of the deep divisions we face at the start of this crazed election year. Or equally deep divisions in the Church. So, what light and steadiness can we possibly find at a moment like this in our untimely, ancient Catholic Faith?

To start, I’d suggest resisting something truly toxic that’s been little noticed: letting public and private polarization – even over matters as transitory as mere policy differences – turn into “hate.” We just observed Martin Luther King Day and there are many things about that pivotal American worth recalling in our time, perhaps nothing more urgent, however, than his warning: “Don’t let them get you to hate them.”

Crucial spiritual advice. A lot of people, whom you might expect would admire Dr. King, claim to find “hate” everywhere: “hate speech,” “preaching hate,” “hating women,” “hating blacks,” “hating LGBT.” These are clever rhetorical tropes intended to hide their own thinly disguised “hatred” towards: Christianity, pro-lifers, opponents of LGBT ideology, or of “anti-racist” racism, and much more.

Still, we have to be constantly alert to the temptation to embrace “hatred” ourselves, even as we seek to counteract evil and promote goodness and truth.  The term hatred, as it’s commonly used these days, banishes the other into the outer darkness as damnably evil. King knew that even when you’re facing monstrous evils, such hatreds might themselves become mortal sins. That it’s possible to turn yourself into the very kind of people you “hate” unless you stand careful watch over your own soul.

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