Have seen this a lot, five features of fundamentalism. Can you see at least three of them in your own view?
(1) Dualistic Thinking: Fundamentalists are inclined to divide the world into clear binary categories. You are either good or bad, right or wrong, with us or against us. There is little room for nuance, qualification, and probabilities in the mind of the fundamentalist.
(2) Paranoia: Fundamentalists tend to have deep feelings of suspicion, bordering on rage, directed towards those who fall on the wrong side of the dualistic dividing lines. This paranoia is usually brought to the surface in a group context.
(3) Apocalypticism: An obsession with the ultimate ends for society and humanity. Usually has two components. First, the desire to witness or bring about the demise of the present form of existence; and second, the desire to participate in a new beginning.
(4) Charismatic Leadership: Fundamentalist groups are often founded by charismatic leader(s). Followers tend to be devoted to these leaders. A cult of leadership often arises.
(5) Totalised Conversion Experience: If the fundamentalist enters the group from the outside (either from another ideology or from a state of apathy), then they become totally immersed and committed to the fundamentalist viewpoint.
I LOVE diversity. I think our God is an artist and uses the full palette in the ongoing God-Roll of Creating. One of the things I really like about my life is my facebook list of friends. Rich and poor, gay and straight, old and young, Christian and all forms of “other,” white or not, traditional, contemporary, progressive, Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Flaming Liberal, Dogmatic Conservative. It’s all there to see, in all its beauty and too, all its butt-uglyness!
The one diverse category that I don’t value is…Fundamentalism. And lately, it is creeping into unlikely places from unlikely sources.
Hard as I try, I find as I grow older that I tolerate it less, which I guess means it is becoming a fundamental for me to be NON fundamental. All of this is giving my mind and my theology a feedback loop that is screaming as painfully as when that piercing hum creeps into the sound system of a worship service, gnawing itself between me and the beauty of the musical harmony that brings me closer to God’s voice. Can I be fundamentally non fundamental?
Politics and theological discussions seem to bring out the worst in us as a society. I think since I have no candidate this year that I am even remotely “for” has made me step back and see things I have missed before. But maybe I’m just older and crankier.
Recently, I’ve seen some things that quite simply turn my stomach.
When the Chic-Fil-A bruhaha reared its ugly head, I saw good people on all sides draw lines in the sand. With most, I understood the line they drew, but hated to see it. I watched as people shocked me with comments that could not be anything less than a slap in the face against their gay and lesbian friends while proclaiming it was all to support free speech. Then they took it further and decried anyone who didn’t agree with them as anti American or even antichrists. And I watched helplessly a few my gay and lesbian friends proudly and (seemingly happily) unfriend dozens in their pain, declaring anyone who ate a chicken sandwich as un-Christian. All of this without trying to “get” the other side. Drawing a line and declaring if you are on the wrong side of this line, you are not a “real” Christian, not a “real” American, not a “real” friend. But then what about those caught in the middle. My friend who has worked at Chic-Fil-A for years, being treated well, supported and moving up the ranks. He’s a Christian. He’s also openly gay. Lord, it seemed for a while, he was beat up and labeled by all sides.
Again, I actually get it in some cases. I see your pain, recognize and value your convictions, but it pains me to see lines drawn between friends, Americans, and Christians. It hurts the WE in the long run.
The other area is of course politics. I’ve seen some of the most hateful posts on Facebook, blogs, etc lately from both major sides of the political arena. People posting the latest talking points turned into a funny picture–I get it, hell I’ve done it. My issue is with a few posts I’ve seen this last week or so. In one, a more liberal friend said anyone not voting for his guy was an idiot. In another, a more conservative friend said anyone not voting for her guy was stupid. Now, I don’t mean just lol name calling joke or cartoon. I mean, they are idiots or stupid because they disagree with the one true path of whatever ideology is being sold by the seller.
I’ve been called a racist (more than once) this week because I don’t like the idea of our having four more years of President Obama (I really don’t like the idea at all). I’m not. I’ve been called a socialist because I can’t find any comfort at all in the idea of a President Romney (Really, I can’t). I’m not that either. But in the midst of not particularly liking either of those men in the top office, I have yet to yield to name calling or judging for those who do. I still assume those who like either of them are sincere and are decent, upstanding Christians (if they are Christians), Americans (if they are from this country), Humans, friends. Well, I have the tools not to be exposed to those and have chosen to use those tools. I love ya, but don’t need to be considered less American, less Christian, or less human, less intelligent, etc.—I AM NOT LESS THAN just because I don’t agree with you or your particular ideology.
And so, herein lies the conundrum for me. As I peruse the above list (not anything official, but it rings true), I see two things.
1) As I think of MY traditional understanding of fundamentalist, I’ve always thought of theology and conservatives, but oddly enough, I’ve seen more of it from the liberal end of things this week and quite frankly, I find that disheartening. They should know better. Seriously. It does nothing for your cause for you to act the same way about judging others as those you seem to disavow.
2) I remember a conversation at one point with one of you about being tolerant of the intolerant. I may have to revise my thoughts on that. If I am going to be anti fundamentalist, can I be fundamentalist about it? You see, I have a predisposition against exclusion. Fundamentalism is ABOUT exclusion–you either fit in these parameters or you’re not in. I’m beginning to feel, to really believe, that you are not “really” following God if you decide to build walls out of fundamental bricks to keep the children of God at bay (doesn’t matter if your bricks are liberal or conservative, by the way)–to keep them out there, judged, marginalized, separate.
And yet, in my own thoughts of thinking them OUTSIDE the will of God–outside of God’s kingdom here on earth–I’ve crossed the same line.
The line that was crossed can be found in these very lines. I’ve moved somehow from being NON fundamentalist to being ANTI fundamentalist. And that’s the common theme. If you are acting out of a pro freedom of speech, good for you. If you are protesting against gays, bad for you. If you are fighting for gay rights, good for you. If you are anti Chic-Fil-A, bad for you. If you are pro Obama, good for you, anti Romney, bad for you, pro Romney, good, Anti Romney bad, etc, etc, etc.
I seem to have drawn a line in the sand. I have become fundamentally anti fundamental. God forgive me. God forgive us all. We can do better.