Please watch this video clip, especially if you are religious. It contains the food for thought that we need to think carefully about the dangers of certain ideological strains in our religions. My utmost respect for how Crossan expresses himself, in this video, and in the book I’m reading right now (The Last Week, co-authored by Crossan and Marcus Borg, which I so far extremely highly recommend to any Christian, or Christian-curious — as too many Christians focus only on the last day, ala Mel Gibson’s gorefest, while having no clue about the importance and significance of the week that lead up to it).
I like to distinguish between literalism and fundamentalism. [...] A literalist is someone who takes everything in the Bible that could be taken literally, literally. [...] A fundamentalist says “and if you don’t take it literally, you’re not a Christian. And if you say it shouldn’t be taken literally, you’re an anti-Christian.” [...] Every religion today, must take responsibility for its own fundamentalism. Because religious fundamentalism is probably the most dangerous thing in the world at the moment.
In the future, I will stick to his definitions for everyday use.
Two things to look out for in the video clip:
- Irrespective of whether you take the texts literally or metaphorically, they still mean the same thing.
- There is a path from ideological fundamentalism through rhetorical fundamentalism to physical fundamentalism, a path capable of escalating ideology to the point of violence or genocide. Crossan illustrates such escalation through the example of Mein Kampf and the Nazis.
As the commenter hardheadjarhead wrote on YouTube about three weeks ago:
History bears out what he claims about fundamentalism, whether it be Christian or Muslim. Martin Luther in his work “The Jews and their Lies” was a classic example of the religious intolerance Crossan is talking about.
If you have not heard of Luther’s darker side, it’s certainly worthwhile to recognise the evils inadvertently produced and propagated even by your favourite heroes.
From the Other Side, Yet Again
Bear with me while I ponder the potential of a similar understanding on the other side… also in another attempt to understand why some people suggest the “fundamentalism” label can also apply to Dawkins et al (the so-called New Atheist Movement). I know I may bore some of you to death with rehashing this over and over… but…
Could the ideological framework of well-meaning atheists escalate from “religion is implicated in most of modern terrorism and violence” via “if we are able to eradicate religion, we will have a better society” to “in what ways might we successfully eradicate religion?”
This is not to debate the point, it is to provoke thought. Is it necessary for atheists to take responsibility for the results of their thoughts and ideas? Is being “factually and rationally correct”, as they claim they are, sufficient defence against any evils that might result from the eventual abuse of their ideas? Maybe. Who can judge? It may really be. I just know I’d personally rather focus on understanding the value of anything I deconstruct or challenge, and figure out ways to protect the good while hacking at the bad, replacing rotten or sandy foundations by foundations built on rock, or if renovation is not possible, putting much effort and energy into constructing a new house, built on rock, that provides all the essentials and as many of the benefits of the prior dwelling as possible, before indiscriminately bulldozing every sand-built shack I come across.
Enough melodrama and propaganda for now: it’s the thought that counts, and the thereby inspired thinking/reflection that helps.
(Besides, there are more than enough defenders-of-religion hammering incessantly on this very same thought, whether legitimately or illegitimately, which is why many are sick of hearing it. May that, together with this section of this post, my latest attempt at expressing the idea in the best way I can come up with, be adequate in letting me put the issue to rest.)
ps. He talks about something sounding like “the story of Ah-mey-us” — can anyone tell me what that last word is?