The word “diversity” comes from the English word “diverse,” originally meaning “different.” That word and its Italian cousin “diverso” comes from the Latin “vertere”, a word meaning basically “to turn” in the sense of changing the position of a filled jar to pour the liquid inside. Sometimes, the word “diversion” may be used diplomats or the military referring to a tactical move to distract the adversaries’ attention (i.e. “a diversionary action.”) “Diverting” is understood as taking a different direction, or straying from the expected course.
Taking a strange turn from its ancient etymology, the word “diversity” has a charged political meaning these days. The pursuit of diversity, mainly in things cultural and ethnic has become a holy cause for politicians in the Progressive left. Cultural diversity, or multiculturalism, is the latest incarnation of the now centuries old Liberal saga.
American thinker and economist, Thomas Sowell comments in his book Intellectuals and Race (published by Basic Books, New York, 2013):
The key word among the advocates of multiculturalism became ‘diversity.’ Sweeping claims for the benefits of demographic and cultural diversity […] have prevailed without a speck of evidence being asked for or given.”
I was reminded of Dr. Sowell’s words in recent weeks when we had to suffer admonitions affirming that God intended diversity of religions. That was followed by using the word “proselytism” presented as a pejorative term, condemning those pesky Christians that insist in making disciples as Jesus clearly commanded them to do in the Great Commission. (Matthew 28:16-20) It would not surprise me if soon our obligation to save souls becomes “a sin against diversity” in the ever-moving sands of pop theology.
Let’s go back to the beginning:
Then God said, ‘Let us make man [אדם, adam] in our image, according to our likeness; ” Genesis 1:26-27
I am quoting this well known scripture for a reason. Man is obviously diverse, different from God. But man proportionally reflects God in the beginning. Inside that first man is the likeness of every man that will ever be. Adam’s soul is perfectly modeled after God’s image. I think this verse should greatly trouble iconoclasts: the first action of God regarding mankind was to make an image of clay and breathe life into it. Oh, well! Forgive this brief diversion (pun intended) and let us go back to images and diversity. Our Lord will save this rambling piece by helping me put the whole thing together:
Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap him in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, ‘Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?’ But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, ‘Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.’ And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, ‘Whose image is this, and whose title?’ They answered, ‘Caesar’s.’ Then he said to them, ‘Give therefore to the Caesar the things that are the Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.” Matthew 22:15-22
It is very likely that the coin Jesus was showing them had some reference to the words “Tiberius Caesar Divi Augusti Filius.” That was the short title used by Tiberius, the Roman Emperor about the time when Jesus was preaching. The shorter form “divi filius” (son of a god) was used in coinage for obvious reasons. So we have the true Son of God, showing some men (who did not believe in His Divinity) the image of a pagan man who claimed to be the son of a god. That image surely makes this scripture worthy of deeper examination.
Two more things … (oh, this is getting complicated!) the word “hypocrite” (υποκριτής) in Greek means “actor.” Actors in Greek theatre often wore masks according to the character they were representing. The Latin word for “mask” is “persona” (the origin our word “person”) coming from the Greek πρόσωπον, prósōpon, the mask worn by the actors. We human beings present a personality that is different in appearance from our sinful souls. We are actors wearing a mask, hiding our true spiritual selves.
Man was created with a divine likeness. Originally man was a thing of beauty and perfection. Sin changed that into something less perfect and less beautiful. When Jesus shows the Roman coin to the Pharisees, he anticipates his Passion. Jesus was a man as perfect as Adam was before sin. His enemies will eventually hand him to the Romans who will brutally punish beautiful Jesus until he looks not human any more. (Isaiah 52:14) Unwittingly, the Romans make His body look like our souls broken by sin. His image on the Cross has become our image. In His unfathomable wisdom, God has created a clear parable in which He represents exactly the reality of the men He is redeeming. He identified Himself with the despicable thing we have become after sin. And He willingly took in the infinite perfection of the Incarnation all the human pain that ever was and will ever be. God allowed us to make an image of ourselves in Him, grotesquely reverting the scene of man’s creation. In that supreme act of love He who made us holy and beautiful as Himself, allowed us to make Him look unholy and ugly as our own sinful souls. And He did that out of love.
The violence His own people inflicted on Him, climaxed with His priests shouting, “We have no king but Caesar!” (John 19:15) while demanding the Romans to crucify Him. How could His own people so blindly admit to the divinity of Caesar over the divinity of their own King and Redeemer?
I mention this in particular because our world seems to be replaying that ancient drama. The world has rejected the Christian order while favoring a “diverse everything” a universal disorder where the old hippie slogan of “do you own thing” has replaced the Ten Commandments. Of course, that kind of diversity does not include the Christian way of life. Christianity is rejected precisely because it interferes with everyone’s diverse plans. In the same manner that the Jews of the first century rejected Jesus, today’s world rejects the Christian order. They prefer to aspire to anything but the Christian ideals. That hypocritical form of diversity is increasingly hostile to Christianity and reserves its most virulent kind of hostility for all things Catholic. A good portion of the Catholic hierarchy is currently siding with the world. Their foolishly suicidal attitude does not make things any easier for faithful laity.
Recently, (not knowing that I was going to use his observation in this article) a smart reader commented in reference to Light for a Dark Age:
If people have no transcultural idea with which to identify, the result historically is Balkanization and ultimately sectarian violence. Diversity by itself is not good, or even neutral, at least in the historical record; it is an ingredient in cultural combustion. There must be an organizing principle that is greater than any of the diverse interests of tribes, families, cities, regions, cultural traditions and polities. “E Pluribus Unum” only works if everyone acknowledges the founding principles expressed (in the US) by the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, or more simply said, the law. But note the law doesn’t function in this capacity without belief in a higher authority that legitimizes the law. A belief in God can provide the ground to which diversity may be applied. Without it, diversity leads ultimately to violence as can be seen by noting how and why rival gangs develop and operate in neighborhoods where the social framework is damaged. Many today do not believe in God or in any principle beyond their interests. Violence is spreading and increasing in the west in direct proportion to the fading away of shared values. There is not much point in teaching the Judeo-Christian message about the nature of God to those who don’t believe in any transcendental reality.”
That is a profound insight. I would add to it that the “diversity” preached by some politicians is a way of weaponizing the natural differences between human beings. God has given mankind a form of built-in diversity that is very different from the nonsensical dogma presented by the Progressive left. Human diversity is possible because each one of us is called to reflect perfectly one aspect of God’s infinite self. That diversity will never cease to bless the human race. The Church is what God is using to call everyone to salvation, in every land, at every time. The benefits of His sacrifice on the Cross are offered to all without exception. God is willing to redeem our fallen condition rebuilding it to resemble Him in a unique way. It is up to us to accept His perfection or reject it by remaining in the ugliness of our fallen state.