Religious Fundamentalism: A Brief Interlude, Mostly for Explanation

   The rising, global tide of Religious Fundamentalism is more dangerous than ever. This is my contention.

    Islamic Fundamentalism is the most egregious misuse of explosives in the advancement of religion, but it is not the most egregious use of religion to advance some cause other than religion. For that, one must turn to American Fundamentalist Christianity. If you are an American, if you are a Christian, you have enough to do to clean up your own back yard.

   The spread of Religious Fundamentalism among American Christians ruins lives, devalues ministries, splits churches. The roll call of destruction could go on and on.

   I wish, like one of my readers from yesterday, that the mathematics of the situation would lead to some resolution, wherein the Fundamentalists of the Left and Right cancel out each other some where, some time, some how. While this is (theoretically) possible in mathematics (veritas) it is not necessarily practicable in politics, governance or religion, where the human variables constantly shift. Nor would those who suffer under the current system take solace in the vague promise it will all come out right one day.

   For instance, where there are two conflicting parties, like moderates or neo-cons, like democrats or republicans, the fellow who is of neither party is not-cannot be-of any consequence. He may have the truth in his heart and a brain in his head but he cannot have the political force to assuage the errors of either party. He cannot defuse the IED by the roadside. He cannot put the discarded or misused back in place.

   So he must choose and in every choice he must accept the consequences. If his party is the loser, he must try again. If his party is no longer a viable force, he may form a new party, or die, but he cannot simply withdraw.

   His fate is more pointed when he must wrangle within religion, if he is a believer. If he is not a believer, he may use religion as a weapon at worst, or, at least, as an artifice to append Right to his faction.

    Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once wrote, "If the majority of my country-men wish to go to Hell in a hand-cart, it is my duty to help them on their way."

   It should be pointed out that Justice Holmes was a constitutional jurist and so understood his employment as strictly constructed in the founding documents. He was not of the legislative branch or the executive. One believes he hoped one of the other branches would stop the majority plunge to the abyss, in a representative government.

   Regardless, by his calling (vocare) the religious fellow cannot passively let anyone, let alone the majority of his fellows, choose Hell in a hand-cart, or in a Lexus. He must contend for souls.

   So, what is needed, is a fusion of all the parts of either party who are sick to death with the flaccidity of the Left and the mendacity of the right. Shattered pieces may cut when first retrieved but might be refitted into an effective, lovely whole.

   Where could we get leadership for such a fusion? The victors are not likely to shed power willingly. The defeated have chosen leadership poorly, or they would not be the defeated.

   In 1856, the Democrats and Whigs and the nascent Republican party fought over slavery; the Missouri Compromise, the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Dred Scott Decision roiled the nation. Whigs would not actually show a difference between themselves and the Democratic Party and so died as a major force. The Republicans might have won and did win four years later with a country lawyer from Illinois as their candidate.

   The Democrats won in 1856 by pushing aside the controversial senior Senator from Illinois, Stephen Douglas. They nominated James Buchanan, a steady public servant whose main advantage was this: as ambassador to Great Britain, he had been out of the country during the great slavery debates and, so, had never taken a public stand.

   Four years later the Democrats lost the White House and fired on Fort Sumter to punctuate their loss.

   To turn this thing around, someone will have to be called out out of the ranks. He (she?) will need to be someone who either remembers or can be educated about the tender, old-time religion. We are headed to Hell in a hand-cart but the descent is not yet perfected. We just need a new-old way.


   Opinions expressed here are my own, not those of the church I serve or of any other person.



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