The Future was Yesterday..this is for you!
Davidson Loehr, minister at Austin's First Unitarian Universalist Church
One, very enjoyable, hilarious and passionate blogger, The Future Was Yesterday, loathes fundamentalism. Does not particularly care for 'religion' and like most reasonable people, knows and appreciates the distinction between 'religion' and 'spirituality',people who like to control others using their respective Bibles or Korans, and people who quietly live their faith, being the true believer that they are and walking the talk.
I told TUA..that reminds me of Austin's own Davidson Loehr. He participated in a large study called "The Fundamentalist Project" that was sponsored by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. For five years, from '88 till '93, 100 scholars from around the world reported on their findings on fundamentalism. Here are some 5 basic commonalities between fundamentalism of ALL faiths, and I quote;
The fundamentalists' agenda starts with insistence that their rules must be made to apply to all people, and to all areas of life. There can be no separation of church and state, or of public and private areas of life. The rigid rules of God—and they never doubt that they and only they have got these right—must become the law of the land. Pat Robertson, again, has said that just as Supreme Court justices place a hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution, so they should also place a hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible. In Khomeini's Iran, and in the recent Taliban rule of Afghanistan, we saw how brutal and bloody this looks in real time.bold and italics added by yours truly.
The second agenda item is really at the top of the list, and it's vulgarly simple: Men are on top. Men are bigger and stronger, and they rule not only through physical strength but also and more importantly through their influence on the laws and rules of the land. Men set the boundaries. Men define the norms, and men enforce them. They also define women, and they define them through narrowly conceived biological functions. Women are to be supportive wives, mothers, and homemakers.
A third item follows from the others. (Indeed each part of the fundamentalist agenda is necessarily interlocked, and needs every other part to survive.) Since there is only one right picture of the world, one right set of beliefs, and one right set of roles for men, women, and children, it is imperative that this picture and these rules be communicated precisely to the next generation. Therefore, fundamentalists must control education by controlling textbooks and teaching styles, deciding what may and may not be taught.
Fourth, fundamentalists spurn the modern, and want to return to a nostalgic vision of a golden age that never really existed. Several of the scholars observed a strong and deep resemblance between fundamentalism and fascism. Both have almost identical agendas. Men are on top, women are subservient, there is one rigid set of rules, with police and military might to enforce them, and education is tightly controlled by the state. One scholar suggested that it's helpful to understand fundamentalism as religious fascism, and fascism as political fundamentalism. The phrase “overcoming the modern” is a fascist slogan dating back to at least 1941.
The fifth point is the most abstract, though it's foundational. Fundamentalists deny history in a radical and idiosyncratic way. Fundamentalists know as well or better than anybody that culture shapes everything it touches: The times we live in color how we think, what we value, and the kind of people we become. Fundamentalists agree on the perverseness of modern American society: the air of permissiveness and narcissism, individual rights unbalanced by responsibilities, sex divorced from commitment, and so on. What they don't want to see is the way culture colored the era when their scriptures were created.
Good biblical scholarship begins by studying the cultural situation when scriptures were written in search of their original intent, so that we can better discern what messages they may still have that are relevant for our lives. But if fundamentalists were to admit that their own scriptures are as culturally conditioned as everything else, they would lose the foundation of their certainties. Some scholars see evidence that St. Paul, for instance, had severe personal hang-ups about sex that may account for his harsh teachings about homosexuality and women. Many biblical scholars treat some of Paul's teachings as rants rather than revelations. But for fundamentalists, their scriptures fell straight from heaven in a leather-bound book, every jot and tittle intact.
Except for the illustrations I've added in laying out the agenda that the Fundamentalism Project discovered, you can't tell what religion, culture, or century I'm describing. The scholars discovered this a dozen years ago while they were presenting abstracts of their papers. Several noted that all their papers were sounding alike, reporting on “species” when studying the “genus” was called for, that there were strong family resemblances between all fundamentalisms, even when the religions had had no contact, no way to influence each other.
Interesting psychology isn't it? All the people who do not function on the basis of that many fears are all in the same boat the world over. Now if that is not saying something for 'we're all the same'!
At any rate TUA..you'd love reading the whole article;
The Fundamentalist Agenda
is absolutely natural, ancient, and powerful—but the liberal impulse makes us humane. Enjoy!