Fundamentalism kills

A very hard-hitting op-ed. Here’s a quote form the article:

All fundamentalists, religious and secular, are ignoramuses. They follow the lines of least resistance. They already know what is true and what is untrue. They do not need to challenge their own beliefs or investigate the beliefs of others. They do not need to bother with the hard and laborious work of religious, linguistic, historical and cultural understanding. They do not need to engage in self-criticism or self-reflection. It spoils the game. It ruins the entertainment. They see all people, and especially themselves, as clearly and starkly defined. The world is divided into those who embrace or reject their belief systems. Those who support these belief systems are good and forces for human progress. Those who oppose these belief systems are stupid, at best, and usually evil. Fundamentalists have no interest in real debate, real dialogue, real intellectual thought. Fundamentalism, at its core, is about self-worship. It is about feeling holier, smarter and more powerful than everyone else. And this comes directly out of the sickness of our advertising age and its exaltation of the cult of the self. It is a product of our deep and unreflective cultural narcissism.

It is a fact bordering on the banal that I would like to be spared the thinking required to really introspect. I would also much prefer to have “the truth” handed to me on a silver platter, preferably with a butler wearing gloves and coupled with a well-mixed whiskey sour. But unfortunately the laws of the universe are such that I must exercise my existence for it to have meaning. I mean by this that I must literally exercise, make effort, focus on a goal and push myself towards it inertia and resistance be damned!

This does not mean that you cannot, after much painful excavation and building complete some edifice which is just plain wrong. It is quite probable that you will do so. But the effort of and digging down and building up will remove many layers of sedimentary prejudices, and you will be all the better for it. You may still, at the end fo the effort, say, take up a Young Earth position. But my experience has been that those people who have bothered to dig and build are also the ones who are most willing to have a conversation and a discussion. They worked hard to reach their conclusions, and understand that more work needs to be done, and are usually grateful for the opportunity to exercise their knowledge. It is the fundamentalists, who neither care for nor are willing to actually do the work who are most prone to vituperative  explosions.

Back in my teens I came up with a formula for true holiness: a holy person is one whose own faith is strengthened when shown the power of another’s.

I still hold to that.


About spaceloom

An urban monk, and an experienced spiritual director with a Masters in Psychology. Married with two children. Want to know me better? Read my thoughts.
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