Thursday, January 26, 2012

On Fighting, Fundamentalism, and Forgetting Where I Came From.

I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian environment, so I have a rather peculiar relationship with fundamentalism. 

I think it's similar to the relationship I had with my brothers growing up.  There were times we were thick as thieves and times where we wanted to (and often tried to) murder each other. 

There was one interesting dynamic in the relationship, though, that always persisted, regardless of what else was going on: my brothers could pick on me, beat me up, make fun of me or whatever, but if someone else tried?  It was on.  We would combine our powers like Voltron and defend each other against these outsiders until the threat abated, at which point we would commence kicking the crap out of each other.

I have a similar relationship with fundamentalism, I think.  I poke fun at fundamentalism from time to time, and heck, sometimes I'll go toe to toe with a fundamentalist over Biblicism or some other hot-button issue, but in the end, I enjoy the perspective that my history with fundamentalism gives me.

Here's the problem I have though: it seems like these days, all the cool kids hate on fundamentalism.  Sometimes it's just poking a bit of fun, sometimes it's more serious, but there's often an underlying sense of pride and condescension involved.  It's an attitude that says "How could anyone actually believe that?" 

I know, I think the same thing sometimes. 

But then I remember, I believed it at some point too. 

That's the the funny thing. Often time those who are the most critical are those who (like me) came out of that place themselves. 

Here's where it helps for me to do a bit of remembering where I came from.

I remember the defensive posture I would immediately assume when someone would challenge my beliefs in this way.  I remember the way it hurt when I realized I was wrong and that the person that proved me wrong was more concerned about being right than being loving.  I remember that attitudes like that did more to drive me away from the Truth than to draw me into it. 

If you've ever found yourself on the receiving end of that, well, it kind of sucks.

And now I have no idea how to end this post. I could present an impassioned plea for all of us to be more loving, but I'd feel like a hypocrite, because I'm often on the giant judgmental turd side of the conversation.  I could tell a funny anecdote, but I started with the funny story about my bros, so that won't work.  I could tell a heart-wrenching tale about how someone cared more about loving me than about being right.  I do have those stories (quite a few actually, and quite a few the other way as well), but this post is already getting a bit longish, so I'll spare you the details.

So let's just stop being jerks to each other. We're never going to brow-beat each other into agreement. You know, flies and honey and all that.  In the immortal words of Bill S. Preston esquire, from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure: be excellent to each other.


  1. Great post, Luke. We've all been there. Well done.

    1. Thanks, Sarah. I've had the unfortunate pleasure of being on both sides. How quickly we forget, eh?

      I just get concerned sometimes that the same vitriol that infects our political discourse bleeds into discussions about Jesus and the church. I just don't think that's the way it was meant to be.

      [I'd much rather have it the other way around, where the loving, gracious tone we use in discussions about Jesus bleed into our political discourse. :) But maybe that's just wishful thinking...]


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...