News stories are rampant with evidence of Fundamentalism. Religion, some people would assert, by necessity produces these fundamentalists. There would, after all, be no such thing as an atheist zealot, or secular nutcase, these same people would have you believe. Religious Fanaticism is an exclusive fixture of Religion. However, some people think that all Religion should be completely subdued, privatized, removed from the common shared experience of humanity, because every regular old religious person is themselves a fanatic or fundamentalist.
One of the things that influenced my decision to leave the Church when I was about 12 was the exact opposite of this. I saw that religion did not matter to people in my family, and to the overwhelming majority of society. Religion obviously didn’t matter to the entertainment industry, because between 1980 and 2000 it seemed forbidden, if not a taboo to mention God or a personal religion anywhere in entertainment. It could be said, even in a Catholic school that most of the kids and their families were only there for the advantages of an education. My overwhelming personal experience has always been that people make religion out to be less meaningful to themselves, and it quickly deadens everyone around them by making it not matter. I, however, have grown to be less condemnatory, seeing as how I have no way of judging the personal faith life of the faithful who go to Mass, and are striving after something they do not always understand comprehensively.
So could a little bit of zeal be bad? Not really. I see a lot of young people nowadays are depressed. They are led to believe that they have to be nice, and tame, and clean. They crave a battle to fight for, something righteous and just beyond themselves. Young people are craving for an excuse to be passionate, and the only place they are allowed to express this sometimes are at Rock Concerts. Otherwise, they have learned that in order to integrate themselves into society, they have to be tame well mannered little do nothings. Personally, I do believe that one of the reasons Gangster Rap, or Eminem or any of that is popular, because we are so quick to condemn those who live with passion, and by we, I particularly mean our secular society.
I don’t think it is at all problematic to have a time and place for good manners, but it is a hard sell when we cannot even allow kids to connect the good manners and dignity we expect of them with godliness. Otherwise, all we can do is more fingerwagging and reward giving, and all we do is train kids how to cleverly manipulate the system.
Also, I think our societies standards of banishing zeal have finally caved in on itself as liberals and conservatives are looking for passionate charismatic leaders to blindly follow.
But the zeal that is proper to the religious person is invigorated by justice that is beyond their personal comfort. The zeal of the religious person is to harmonize with divine Justice, which is also tempered by mercy and compassion. So, obviously religious persons who just cannot integrate compassion are way off. The lack of compassion to people who are different is not altogether uncommon from the public discourse. In fact, as the following three posts have indicated, that elitism has taken over secularists and atheists, as they frown and fingerwag religious people with each of these shallow generalized accusations.
The truth is, that the radicalism and zeal of humanists and secularists is typically founded on genuine injustices, but is completely devoid of the compassion that comes from God. The most extreme cases of these have been happening in Spain lately, where young secular radicals are looking for shameful opportunities to desecrate (if not absolutely insult) Catholics as they worship. The secular radicalism that has bread its own brand of fundamentalists additionally has something to answer for. I mean, sadly, so many secularists, and opponents of religion, are merely repeating the same dogmas of secularism, completely uncritical, ready to carry out the Inquisition to root out and eliminate all religiousness from the human experience. Who is the real irrational fundamentalist?
Yeah, Christians have had a problem with this, because I do think that Christians have a responsibility to open real public discourse. If you look at what Pope Benedict has been doing, by creating more frequent Synods, his latest book Jesus of Nazareth, the Assisi event for ecumenical dialogue, as well as the Courtyard of the Gentiles, we see an example of where Catholics put fundamentalists and secularists to shame.