Yesterday: From Brian McLaren’s blog:

When I am presented with a new idea or proposal, my first question is more likely to be …
___A. Is it acceptable to my religious/ideological community or belief system?
___B. Is it possibly true, valuable, and worth exploring?

If you chose A, you’re probably a fundamentalist, and probably shouldn’t read my new book because it will only get you in trouble. If you do decide to read it, don’t let your fundamentalist friends know. Hide the book in a brown paper bag, and only read it in private.

If you chose B, you’re curious, and I think you’ll enjoy my new book.

Here’s a brief response:

I don’t think that question’s answers separate fundamentalists from the curious. The opening answer is about traditionalism, and in fact characteristic of all of Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy and Protestantism.
Furthermore, the arrangement smacks of radical individualism and denies the foundational role our communities play in our knowledge and social construction of reality. What’s wrong with asking about every new idea what “the Church” or my community thinks? Or if it is logically consistent with what I’ve already concluded to be sound? Not only that, but the world of Jesus was much more like the first answer than the second, and that is has been brought to the fore by cultural anthropologists like Bruce Malina, who adapts the research of Mary Douglas and others.
I also wonder if this is not a false dichotomy: I know plenty of fundies who are intrinsically curious people, who wonder “what if?” and who are always chasing down their questions. I know plenty on the other side who aren’t in the least curious.
Is Seth Godin a good source for defining fundamentalism?
More from Beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad