Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Heb

If you live in Texas anywhere south and west of 31.6 degrees north and 97.18 degrees west you've no doubt heard of H.E.B. Grocery, their Central Markets and Howard Butt himself. They are big time grocers. They run with the big dogs. The company's founder, Howard Butt Sr. was a Christian of such fundamental beliefs that he would not allow his stores to be open on Sunday nor to sell beer up to and including some of the 1950's and '60's. Laity Lodge in Leakey, TX was funded and built by the Butt Foundation as a non-denominational Christian Retreat Center and Youth Camp. They (H.E.B.) are now in some "hot water" over sponsorship of, most recently, a San Antonio Gay Pride Celebration "Pridefest San Antonio". Agape Press, which appears to be a more than somewhat conservative website, reports that a San Antonio talk show host has taken the H. E. Butt Grocery Co. to task for donating $ 300.00 to the organization for sponsorship. Said host called for a boycott, and has had some measure of success in his efforts.

Upon first reading, I was on board with H.E.B. on this one, but after consideration for a day or so; and discussion with the wife about it, I have second thoughts. Before expounding further, let me say that I fully support equal rights for all persons, regardless of race, color, creed or orientation. I support the right of two adult persons of the same sex to legally covenant between each other for their mutual benefit and support, exactly the same as for civil unions between man and woman; however, I'm not agreeable to the Church's Sacramental support of such. I hold personal beliefs about other issues facing us, too, which I'll save for another time.

But, back to H.E. B.'s sponsorship of Pridefest San Antonio. I've begun to think it was wrong, not because they were supportive of Gays and Gay Rights, but rather of the event itself. For I have come to believe that in many arenas there are far too many events celebrating differences and far too few celebrating common grounds. In so doing, by emphasizing attitudes and behaviors which others find objectionable, that opposition's own belief's are validated. We have sometimes seen, in news footage and still pictures, the sort of behavior at parades and celebrations that is "in your face" and abhorent to much of middle ground America. Does this behavior further the cause or further the animosity and the stereotype? When I see continued irresponsible action from any particular group it seems to develop or reinforce attitudes that while probably inaccurate across the board still reflect on the whole.

I guess what I'm professing is that when the ends of the spectrum can engage each other with rationality, civility and come together regarding commonly held beliefs, it then becomes harder to loathe the opposition. Correspondingly, each side can then begin to develop an understanding of the other and from understanding proceeds acceptance. So, was H. E. B. right in their support? I'm not so sure now.


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