Friday, August 1, 2008

Fundamentalism and Relativism

This week, I drove from western Kentucky, where I live and work, to Kansas City, the city where I grew up.  I went to see my mom who is in her late 80's and in failing health.  I was glad to find that Mom was moving better than she was the last time I was in Kansas City.  I saw some of my old friends from Jesus Freak days (69'-72' or so) and had a great time catching up. While I was having coffee with Dorothy, one of my dearest friends for over 35 years, we heard news of the earthquake in California.  

Actually, I was telling her that my nephew, who lives in San Diego, was just placed on some kind of marijuana product to help with his migraines.  Dor is a nurse, and the coffee house had several computer terminals for access to the internet.  She got interested and went to the computer to look-up the product he has been prescribed.  While on the computer, she read about the earthquake near Los Angeles on Tuesday (7/29/08).

Dor's sister, Janet, lives in southern California, so Dorothy was concerned.  She called Janet on her cell phone.  Janet was fine, and Dorothy asked if I wanted to talk with Jan.

Jan is from the "old days" too.  I talked with her, probably for the first time in about 33 years. Old friends are precious gifts, not to be taken for granted.

The drive to KC is about a nine hour jaunt.  Now, I hate to drive; it makes me pretty uptight.  I rarely drive out of town without Irene, and she does most of the driving on our trips.  However, on this trip, I was by myself.  At about St. Louis, I was getting pretty stressed-out and was searching for a diversion, so I turned on the radio.  It was offering  a "Christian" talk show.  The guest had just finished a book about how to fight the evil forces of relativism.  I perked-up.

The guy obviously saw it as his mission to "squeeze" all of the relativism that he could out of society.  He especially attacked the notion of "tolerance" as a force of the devil.  You might even call him an apostle of intolerance.  He saw all non-Christians as "objects" of evangelism, not tolerance.  Like many fundamentalists, it seemed he just couldn't take "not interested" as an answer to his offers of salvation.  Maybe it was the fact that I was back in my old fundamentalist stomping-grounds, talking with old fundie friends that made my mind go into action.  I thought, "I've heard all of this before."  Indeed I have.

Are there no absolutes?  If there is a God, it seems to me that there are certainly absolutes.  I really have no argument there.  My beef comes at two points in the fundamentalist argument. First, I dispute the notion that the Bible is without error.  Fair investigation shows that it is the work of many hands with many differing points of view.  The cosmology is plainly wrong.  So, I find the Bible wanting if one wishes to find scientific or moral precision there.

My second "bone of contention" deals with the idea that any human is an infallible interpreter of truth.  All of our truths are tentative.  I'm not opposed to the idea of God possessing absolute truth.  I just think our grasp of it is relative.

All in all, it was a good trip, I'm glad I went.  It was great to see Mom and my old friends.

By the way, recently, I was interviewed on Fascinating Authors.  You might want to click the link and listen to an interview regarding fundamentalism.

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