Other times, the ideas are partial, intriguing but unfinished, worthy at inception of only a paragraph. Other events must transpire, and somehow they always do, adding to the mix, until a hybrid idea formulates collating these various motes of interest.
From time to time, I’m asked, sometimes not very politely, why don’t I just give fundamentalism a rest? Why not live and let live. After all, we all dealing with the realm of belief. Whose to say that my beliefs are necessarily more correct than those of the self-styled solo interpreters of the bible?
And I could grant that perfect logic and indeed move on, if that were all there was to it.
After all, it takes no genius to realize that “born again” solo literalists are engaging in what we know to be a primitive form of analysis. The human takes the path of least resistance, one of supreme arrogance and declares that the bible is perfectly capable of perfect understanding to the mind that is determined to do so. An average intellect is all that is required.
And no doubt, various and obvious truths can be discerned this way. But of course, we who are further along the path of understanding, know that such understanding is both limited and subject to deep deception. Not only do we miss much that is deeply important, we are always in dire danger of misunderstanding and horribly misunderstanding what is meant.
This latter problem is and can be quite dangerous. It means we often find purchase for our own prejudices and fears. We find that God “agrees” with us. We think we are doing God’s work in discriminating against groups and “others” who don’t agree with us, and moreover, have drastically different takes on the same material. So we utter various imprecations upon them, usually citing scripture that says “beware of those that preach new and dangerous doctrines.”
What the fundamentalist never seems to get, is that I would cite the same exact verses against him and his new and dangerous doctrines were I inclined to such wrong thinking. But I know of course, that one of the worst errors of the fundamentalist is thinking that you can join verses from diverse books and stories to prove often in-opposite points.
I’ve been pondering in the last few days how people views are formed. When I went to high school, there were exactly two persons in our class that were “churchy.” Nobody else was, though there may have been others who attended services with their families. But they never proselytized by act or word their beliefs.
Today, as I have reconnected with a few, I find a plethora of full blown fundamentalists. People whom I would have never guessed, are now making remarks that leave little doubt that they read the bible rather literally. And there is never any talk of Sunday church from these folks. They just read text and pontificate on it’s meaning–their version of the meaning.
Some of the life experiences are no doubt different. I left the Flint area for college and then law school. I spent my professional and social life with people with grand educations in law, medicine, psychology, theology, and a smattering of others. Some of those people were believers, some were not, yet we were rational creatures who understood a logical argument.
I cannot speak to the mind that adopts the proposition that much of reality is faked for our testing or whatever. I cannot assume that some catastrophic event occurred that changed people from being rational to irrational. I simply don’t get it. I know the psychological realities of fundamentalism and what drives it, but I can’t say I understand why one substitutes reality for some “safe” haven of delusions pretending that now they are secure in the world.
I could let it go, but for the fact that it leads to this: Steven Benen in his weekly report “The God Machine,” tells us that there is a right wing movement afoot, asking people to pray, by way of bumper sticker and blog, Psalm 109:8 for Obama.
Not to be confused with praying that Obama is not re-elected, the next verse makes clear, as does Benen, that the hope is that Obama will die, leaving orphans and a widow.
This is sick and dangerous stuff. It is frightening. It is tear provoking. How could Christians, people who claim them follow Jesus come to this? Such hatred and venom?
As one atheist said, who cares? They pray to nobody, and accomplish nothing. Let them waste their energies here. But no. It does matter. Because the whack job is always out there watching and thinking. And sooner or later some utter mental screwcap will take it upon himself to do the deed, since of course we also know that God helps those who help themselves.
So it matters. It matters that Pat Robinson tries to erase a billion people’s faith by calling it a political system and not a religion. It matters that abortion fanatics think the abortion doctor killer made a “good start.” It matters that mixed up fundies argue that Jesus tells them that not all the needy are “properly” needy, and thus should be left to suffer.
It matters that injustice and personal prejudices are given the green light by sober but ill-conceived and ludicrous interpretations of scripture. It matters that people find solace in their hatreds and fears and bigotry. It matters that some have concluded that their Jesus is not for me or gays or other groups they find not like “them.”
It sickens me. Frankly, I’m helplessly unable to stop caring and woefully unable to change the picture. Why? Because as we state again and again, such folks are incapable any longer of thinking. They have turned off their brains in the name of being “disciples” in the twisted manner in which they define it.
So we can do little but remain vigilant, calling for the protection of all those who are desirous of freedom and justice and equality. We can and must stand up hand in hand with all those “others” whom we don’t always agree with, but surely recognize have as much right as we to partake of the bread of life, and the offers of America.
Fundamentalism is the crisis of America and of the world. We are engaged in a struggle against all fundamentalism, whether it be Christian, Islamic, or Jewish. It is all the same. It all says, our way, or die. We are for life, and life abundantly. Amen.