The temptation to moralize is strong; it is emotionally satisfying to have enemies rather than problems, to seek out culprits rather than flaws in the system. God knows it is emotionally satisfying to be righteous with that righteousness that nourishes itself on the blood of sinners. But God also knows that what is emotionally satisfying can be spiritually devastating.
– William Sloane Coffin
The Courage to Love
In this (American) culture – fundamentalism is (to put it mildly) – disliked. Let’s have a look at WHY we hate and fear fundamentalists.
The word ‘fundamentalist’ has come to be (inherently) a pejorative label. (About half of what we mean, when we use the word, indicates that we DO NOT LIKE – who [or what … whatever] we are talking about.
We should understand that (the same as with any pejorative) – the word carries a ‘regard’ which will (likely) NOT be shared by the one we are describing. Non-Mexicans do NOT call themselves ‘gringos’; it’s a word Mexicans use for “others“. Non-Jews do NOT refer to themselves as ‘goyim’ or ‘gentiles’; it’s a word that Jews use for “others“. There is an ‘us and them’ perspective, which is essential to this way of regarding the world – and which gives rise to the use of such terms.
I have (more than once) accepted an invitation … and allowed myself to be talked at by Christian Fundamentalists. Only, in these cases – I think that the people I’m referring to may well have felt comfortable with the term ‘fundamentalist’. (And that’s because – from their point of view – it’s very important to acknowledge the ‘fundamentals’ … which, for them, might be – the Virgin Birth … the fact of the crucifixion [and that Jesus died for our sins] … things like that.)
But, when people (who, at least imagine – that they are NOT fundamentalists) use the term, what they mean is (and what their objection is) – that the person concerned has taken a stance in the world … because they have come to a conclusion rashly, maybe with Very Little thought … and (possibly) with inadequate education.
In the extreme – fundamentalists are Ignorant … and Proud of it (proud of being ignorant. So – there is little possibility that they will seek further education in the area involved.
When, for example, Salman Rushdie wrote: “The Satanic Verses” (in 1988) – the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa – calling for the death of (and ordering Muslims to kill) Rushdie. (And this resulted in numerous killings, attempted killings, and bombings.) And (if what I heard at the time was accurate) the people (the Muslim fundamentalists) who took on this task of eliminating the blasphemer – never even read the novel, nor ever intended to. They were, apparently, quite comfortable with their ignorance. And this is the aspect of fundamentalism we find particularly disagreeable and scary. Mmm?
Now, let us consider – whether WE are free of these characteristics and tendencies.
In the United States the largest and fastest-growing ‘religious sect’ is Scientism … whose ‘pews’ are populated with people who have ‘traded in God for Science’. These parishioners look to Science the way people used to look to the Bible … and with the same sort of faith. Most of these ‘modern folks’ are Humanist Agnostic Fundamentalists. (Humanist – because they consider God to be passé and irrelevant; Agnostic – because they doubt the existence of God; and Fundamentalist – because they DO NOT DOUBT the correctness of their position. And they are just as starry-eyed toward Science as our predecessors were toward God.)
I suspect that mostly these folks think that –
people who (still) believe in God … are quaint, soft-headed, and anachronistic.
that the “Death of God” was inevitable … and that when we ‘grew up’ – it was bound to happen.
and they think that we’ve now outgrown God … that we’ve matured beyond the need for superstition.
However … we are now finding out what it is like to live in a society from which the vertical dimension has been removed.
[ref: Robert Bly’s book – “The Sibling Society”]
We now presume – that there is no Higher Authority. There are now no elders. (And when someone with greater love & wisdom happens to show up … we have no place for them. We don’t know what to do with them. We no longer even have a Cognitive Category for elder; so, we have no way to even recognize one.)
And (unfortunately) we now behave like a family of teenagers whose parents are away … so, now we think (‘good riddance’) – we can do whatever we like with each other and with the Whole House. We now imagine that (finally, at last) we are on our own.
And … what do you think the House is going to look like … when this ‘long weekend’ is over?
It’s not uncommon for teenagers to believe that they “know better” than their parents do. But their confidence in their belief (about their ‘superior’ knowledge) … turns out to be very much like the confidence the Muslim fundamentalists (who tried to assassinate Rushdie) had in their position.
So, the question is … are we teenagers?
That is – in a decade (or 2) – will we ‘come to‘ … and realize we did not know better than our parents after all? in spite of the certainty of our position at the time?
Whenever Fundamentalism shows up … it presents itself to us as a superb ‘commercial’ for Education.
Only – we should learn how to criticize ourselves (that is: to understand ourselves) as well.
Oh! ……. Привет, Эрика. Добро пожаловать.