Friday, July 4, 2008

On the "Nuttiness" of Fundamentalism

Fundamentalism can lead to some pretty "nutty" beliefs and actions. I am often reminded of the words of my seminary theology professor, "Fundamentalism is neither fun nor mental." Sometimes, I could swear he had it exactly right. It is hard to get the picture of how they think and how they process the world as they do. Somehow, everything becomes a religious issue. Even things that would seem to be just common sense.

A good example is the issue of global warming. There has been a great deal of activity relative to global warming in fundamentalist circles in the last few years. To start with, virtually all of the televangelists and prominent fundamentalist were adamant that the phenomenon was not occurring. It was a new age, wacko idea that Christians had a duty to resist. In the video Jesus Camp, which chronicles the upbringing of fundamentalist children, a conversation between a homeschooling parent and her child is recorded as the child is taught to mock the idea of global warming. It is done with religious zeal and becomes part of the fundamentalist religious zegiest.

Later in the video, the documentary makers visit a camp where fundamentalist children are trained to be "leaders." The camp director places a life size cardboard image of "Dub ya" on the stage. The children are then taught a bit of "Bush worship." The idea that G.W.B. is the "savior of the world" (or at least in cahoots with him) is strongly conveyed. This then becomes part of the fundamentalist paradigm.

One can read the words of fundamentalist commentators concerning the environment. It is something we should have no concern about. Drill for oil everywhere. Cut down all of the forest. Don't worry about endangered species, after all they are only animals. The world is ours, as one commentators I read stated, given by God for humanity to "rape and pillage." So this becomes part of the fundamentalist religious picture.

The Middle East? All that matters is supporting Israel. Never mind years of injustice to Palestinians. Never mind the lands taken, the peace disturbed. Never mind the plight of Palestinian Christians (once nearly a third of the Palestinian population). So that too is part of the fundamentalist milieu.

Why do fundamentalist absorb so many silly notions and crazy causes and hold so many foolish positions? In one sense, it just seems downright silly-- "neither fun nor mental." In another sense, maybe we can understand it when we stop and consider that, for them, Jesus is coming tomorrow, so it doesn't matter. In fact, things like environmental destruction might even hasten the day. Me? I think I'll be here for awhile. I hope that, even if they talk, even if they control large segments of the Republican party-- me? I hope they are recognized as for the nuttiness they represent.

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