February 16, 2007

Multiculturalism

Everything these days is multicultural, especially in Church. We're supposed to celebrate diversity, and find in it some sign of the manifold generosity of the Creator. Over one weekend I might say "The Gospel of the Lord!" in English, Spanish, French and Arabic. And this is supposed to be a sign of vibrancy, unity, and multicultural success.

So it always cracks me up when the Tower of Babel rolls around in the lectionary, as it does for Mass today. For this story presents the diversity of cultural and language on earth as a punishment for human hubris.

And indeed it is a divine curse which is only overcome in the New Covenant: instead of the people who, in their pride, said 'let us build bricks and make a tower that will reach to heaven,' God builds the Church out of living stones. In the Spirit the apostles are heard in several languages at once, overcoming the confusion of languages. The people who were "scattered all over the earth" at Babel are drawn back together in the Unity who is Christ.

Nevertheless, unity is not the same thing as uniformity. Uniformity is not necessarily unity, and diversity is not necessarily disunity.

2 comments:

forget me not said...

Ahhh, this is true wisdom, friar! :-)

Charles of New Haven said...

Thank you, forget me not, as always.