Prologue: Leadership, the Art of Curiosity
Fundamentalism is not about fundamentals. Fundamentalism sets acceptable boundaries around a body of thought. Those who will remain within those boundaries. Seekers, thinkers, radicals, wander outside the borders, creating discomfort among the orthodox.
The orthodox become the conservatives (some would say reactionaries) of their cause. They most often do not despise what fundamentalists do in their name, but rather decry “the way they do what they do.” In this way the conservative may not only eat his cake but have it conserved to him as well.
He dotes on past glory for the sake of his values.
In fact, his values are usually worth the doting. Humankind always wants change but not too much, not too soon and never with a concomitant loss of caste.
The conservative guards the door against the progressive skeptic. The skeptic knows what he does not like, though he may never formulate how to establish what he does want.
The danger for the conservative may be that he becomes like the aged doctor in Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera. Refusing to retire, the Grenadian medico sees his acuity decline so far he is called in only on cases everyone knows are hopeless. He considers this a specialization but death is always the result. He holds on to his practice, for his routine is life to him. He grasps life because he fear he may not meet God in death.
In fact, he dies in ridiculous fashion, in great fear he will neither see God next nor be taken seriously by those he leaves behind him.
He fails to ask, with faith, “What is next?”
If a leader can be found with a grasp of real fundamentals, which, in turn, might be, the value of values, the inevitably of change, the foolishness of expression, co-mingled with the sacred sobriety of life, humankind should seize on him/her. He/she would be of magnificent worth.
He/she would be curious for a purpose, like a child is curious about everything. Jesus, the Christ, propounded childish curiosity as a heavenly necessity on earth. The leader who would take men from earth to heaven would be an endlessly inquisitive person, eager for the knowledge of what is just up around the next bend.
Religious people hit the marble ceiling of non-verifiability rather quickly. Verifiability sponsors inquiry. The inability of one to know seems to discourage inquiry. If one opinion is as good as another on a given subject, if great harm occurs to huddled masses by the spur of a certain subject, if, after all, we need to fear God will not meet us nor men remember us in death, there seems to be a lack of urgency to pursue this subject.