The Sixth Sunday after The Epiphany

This week I came across a quote I hadn’t seen before. Two things attracted me to it. The quote itself. I thought it clever and controversial. And the author.

You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant. – Harlan Ellison

The quote, of course, flies in the face of the general view that everyone is entitled to their opinion. And I suppose I operate with that view even though I can think that other people’s religious / spiritual / moral opinions are ‘off with the wombats’ – or worse, I think they are wrong. I expect people think similarly (without the Australian colloquialism) of my opinions. But, of course, both sides will start to no longer accept each other’s opinions if opinion becomes behaviour that affects me. We are all entitled to opinions if there don’t affect me as such. But then controversy begins – are all opinions equal and should they be treated equally? (Welcome to a big cultural debate at the moment about all sorts of things – climate change, vaccinations, political programmes, well -being, and many more issues.)

Did you recognise the author? I did though I know basically one thing about him. He is the writer of my favourite classic Star Trek episode ‘The City on the Edge of Forever’ which won numerous awards and later was revealed to have had quite a controversial background in its creation. But a combination of space, the future, time travel, the past, love and tragedy certainly made an impression on me. The actors made it real for me.

The ancient Greek word for actor is ὑποκριτής – upo-crites – which is a combination of under + exposition or interpretation and is believed to describe the ancient Greek actors who presented their orations from under large masks. When the word ‘upo-crites’ travelled through the centuries, it gained a ‘h’ and became ‘hypocrite’ and today has the general meaning of someone who presents views or beliefs of a high standard but doesn’t believe them or lives contrary to them behind the public gaze. So it is about masks and truth and words and deeds.

I know hypocrisy exists. The Bible does too. But what I don’t accept is the opinion which I’ve heard in various forms on numerous occasions that ‘all Christians are hypocrites’. This opinion of hypocrisy is that deeds don’t match the words. And if I think the person is up for it, I have been known to say, ‘Well you should still come along [to church / to know more about Jesus] because one more [hypocrite] won’t matter!’. Christians who confess sins are not acting as such – deliberately sowing falsehood – but are people acknowledging the struggles to be who they are (a child of God). That is why the Divine Service begins with preparation – confession and absolution – communally or privately – and why the disciples of Jesus live each day in repentance. There is no hypocrisy as such just struggling people who want to

follow Jesus and who keep tripping up or being tripped up but Jesus is always helping them to their feet!

Maybe the opinion of Christianity and Christians might be different if the Church as a ‘hospital for sinners’ was more known and each Sunday is about meeting the Divine Physician for all his personal help, care, and blessing? But that’s just my opinion. GS