Monday, March 14, 2005

The F word

I don't know when I realised I was a fundamentalist, and that I didn't really want to be. But it was sometime in the last year.

Since 9/11 the subject of fundamentalism has come to the fore - specifically Islamic fundamentalism, but inevitably people have compared it with the conservative Christianity of President George W Bush.

It was so easy when I was buried in the Christian subculture. I could just say they had it all wrong, that Bush and the rest of us were different, and leave it at that.

But I've since learned that life is never simple, particularly when we most want it to be! Paradoxically, this realisation made life a bit simpler for me, if a little lonelier.

I used to look at things very black-and-white, and very shallowly. (I'm not even sure shallowly is a word, but it is now!) I was a lazy thinker.

Rather than think through theological, economic, political or social issues, I would just find someone who I agreed with in one area, and agree carte blanche with everything else they believed in. If I knew it, that is. Or if I didn't. It didn't really matter. It was just too much detail.

It got really confusing when two people who I both really admired expressed opposing views, and still worked together. I couldn't get that.

But now I think I'm starting to grow up, and form my own opinions.

But what surprised me was how many people have such strong opinions. I've just started really looking into all sorts of issues - philosophy, theology, politics, economics, etc. - and it takes a long time to really have an opinion after looking at all the issues. Where do these people get off? Or have they done the hard yards?

I don't know; I can only speak for myself that I am decidedly undecided on quite a stack of issues, while in other areas I have, as my friend Adam calls them, Very Staunch Beliefs.

Sometimes the staunchness of those Very Staunch Beliefs surprises me. I guess I am a fundamentalist after all!


Sandra said...

I don't think staunch beliefs are a bad thing. In fact, they're quite good, really. I used to think being a follower of Christ meant not upsetting the apple cart, that it was easier to not voice or even have any opinion at all as long as all around me was calm.

But, as my relationship with God has deepened, I realize that there are things that are worth voicing and standing up for. I mean, it's not like God needs me to do His bidding -- the thought of which is really quite silly. Along with a life of blessing, we're also called to a life of persecution, which as unpleasant as that may seem, is still essential.

But now, I think I'm preaching to the choir here...

Simon said...

I think you're right. Although sometimes it's tempting to just be ridiculous so as to invite persecution, just so you feel right. At least I've seen that approach.

I've learnt the most important thing is relationships - my relationship with God, and relationships with others.

I've learnt, probably the hard way, that you can win arguments and lose friends. Or in the worst case, lose both!