2009: Global Heating of Fundamentalisms Old and New

How will religion influence national and world affairs in 2009? 1…..In high winds, trees and people need deep roots in … Continued

How will religion influence national and world affairs in 2009?

1…..In high winds, trees and people need deep roots in the fundament. High winds of insecurity and instability – financial, political, cultural, interpersonal – will blow locally, nationally, globally throughout 2009. In such a time, actual “religion” is reliance on whatever one believes is fundamental, providing inner security and stability, order against chaos, faith against fear, hope against despair, something worth living and fighting and dying for.

2…..A “fundamentalist,” in this sense, is a protagonist whose life is passionately grounded in some fundament under attack. When a fundament is challenged, its devotees rage out like bees from a hit hive. “Gay marriage” proponents swarmed out when California’s referendum, Proposition 8, decisively made gay marriage illegal; and they swarmed out again when President-elect Obama chose Rev. Rick Warren (an opponent of gay marriage) to give the opening inaugural prayer.

3…..In 2009, all the old and new fundamentalisms will continue heating up. In the high winds of global anxieties, even the trees whose roots hold will strike one another; inter-fundament conflicts will increase and intensify at home and abroad. We are living simultaneously in a secular and a spiritual age.

4…..In 1968, the Kerner Report said “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white.” Forty years later, our nation is split into two societies, one religious (in the usual sense: God-oriented) and the other secularist (anti-God). As fundamentalist, the former can be dated to 1912-15, the publication of “The Fundamentals,” twelve pamphlets spelling out the fundament of American Protestantism; and the later can be dated to 1933, the publication of the Humanist Manifesto, the stated aim of which was to eliminate God from recognition in American public education.

5…..Thirty years after the Manifesto, its aim was realized. The U.S. Supreme Court eliminated school-sponsored prayer and devotional reading of the Bible from our public schools. During those thirty years, a sister of mine began each day of her third-grade classes with Bible reading and prayer. “It had a quieting and ordering effect.” God was the fundament, as in the historic American mind. In the subsequent three years, said she, “I was unable to control my classes, and finally gave up teaching.”

6…..Since 1963, what has been the fundament of American public education? All can agree that education should be grounded in what is most important in human life. Well, what is it (God not being an option)? No longer “in God we trust,” but “with liberty and freedom for all” individuals: egalitarianism. For 45 years, our schools have been producing egalitarians (believers in equality) rather than theists (believers in God). The “separation of church and state” is for the freedom of each institution from the other; but the separation of religion and school has set up an alienation and increasing warfare between the two fundaments. This alienation and warfare will deepen in 2009.

7…..As America’s children have had decreasing contact with “church” (religious institutions), Americans have decreased literacy in religion and increased belief in their inherent human dignity and independence, with all the alleged “rights” imagined as pertaining thereto. Invited to teach at Esalen Institute in 1968, I found that one of those rights was the right of “the second dessert,” the choice of a bed-partner for the night (now called, in our colleges, “hooking up”). Public-school-produced children are more like marbles in a bag than cells in a body: each marble has its holy “dignity” and sacred “rights.” Why wouldn’t they be enraged at society’s denial of any “right,” such as the so-called “constitutional right to gay marriage”?

8…..Being both religious (but not old-fundamentalist) and secular (but not new-fundamentalist), Obama is a disappointment to America’s extremists right and left. But he will persist in calling us Americans to unity, and we shall see more of his fundament.

Willis E. Elliott
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  • Bios

    Concerning item 5, the fact that this lady was eventually unable to control her classes may only show her lack of problem solving skills. Concerning item 6, what is most important in human life? …well, life. Respect for life to start with, any kind of life. Understanding how we are all connected, how we all share the only planet we have, this should be a good starting point.

  • [email protected]

    TIME TO TAKE THOSE CAPTURED ‘SUICIDE BOMBERS’ AND PUT THEM ON TV ++++ WITH MAJOR COVERAGE ++++ SAYING THEY’D BEEN ‘TRICKED.’BY ANALOGY TO VIETNAM, UNTIL THOSE IN POWER STARTED HAVING THEIR SONS & DAUGHTERS SERVE AS SUICIDE BOMBERS [IN VIETNAM, IT WAS THE DRAFT] THOSE IN POSITIONS OF POWER IN THE ISLAMIC WORLD WILL CONTINUE TO USE ++++ CHEAP LABOR ++++ I.E., SOMEONE ELSE’S SON OR DAUGHTER ++++ TO DO THE DIRTY WORK. AND THEY WILL SEEK OUT VICTIMS TO CARRY THEIR SUICIDE ATTACKS AMONGST THE INJURED.DERANGED INDIVIDUALS, ESPECIALLY DUE TO DRUG OR ALCOHOL ABUSE, OR OTHER MAJOR LIFE TRAUMAS ALWAYS RESERVE SUICIDE AS THEIR ‘LAST ESCAPE’ FROM REALITY — UNTIL THEY REALIZE THAT SUICIDE IS NO ESCAPE, OR THEY, ONCE AGAIN CHOOSE LIFE.FORGIVENESS IS THE GREATEST HUMAN ATTRIBUTE, FOR IN A WORLD OF PERFECT JUSTICE, OR PERFECT KARMA, DESTRUCTION IS THE RESULT.PERHAPS THIS IS WHY THE SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF THE SAME GOD, HAVE FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS NOT LIVED IN PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST AND AS RADICAL FORMS OF ISLAM WERE EXPORTED TO THE REST OF THE WORLD, THEREIN CONFLICT HAS BEEN BREWED ANEW.

  • gkam

    As one who does not give in the insecurity that drives others to seek solace from the world in imaginary companions, I am an agnostic. I do not believe in some supernatural person, but do not know for sure.All I ask for is to be left alone, not told by some 18-year-old kid who never birthed a baby, never went to war, never held the hands of dying friends, never sweated out the serious illness of a child, that he knows more about the BIG things than I do, as he stands in my doorway. I am sick of those who would impose on the rest of us their own hangups about who can marry whom. IT”S NONE OF YOUR HATEFUL BUSINESS!Just promise us all that you will take the advice of YOUR BIBLE and go pray in your closet, . . please.

  • coloradodog

    Just because someone doesn’t fit the neochristian mold of “religious (in the usual sense: God-oriented)” doesn’t make them a “secularist (anti-God” This is a typical Jesus Freak opinion of thing either having to be “black or white”

  • mokey2

    Gotta say, though, the prospect of a President not beholden to the sumbest conceits of the Religious Right coming into office, just makes me chill out nicely and look at my tenure here at OnFaith as… “Wow…. This was so irrelevant.”MMA Paganplace! Good to see you back. :)Definitely agree there. I’ve also often felt that my time here has been irrelevant.. but then I stop and think of some of those folks who don’t realize that there really *is* another path between the scientistic dualists and christian fundies. (and in the case of CCNOTL the sociopathy of one who swings back and forth from one to the other depending on how it suits him and prevents him from actually having to take a stand on.. well.. anything.)

  • volkmare

    Bios : If reading from the bible at the start of school settles the kids down, and I know it will, then I am all for it.It may have been that teachers only tool to do it, but it is a very good one.If you have the bible at your side and you know how to use it, then you have the best possible tool for teaching.Mark