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Re: Theos-World Understanding Fundamentalism: a (post vacation) question to Bill

Aug 03, 2006 02:07 PM
by pedro oliveira

Dear Bill,

I wish you a very nice vacation. I am posting this to remind myself 
of the question I would like to explore with you later on, provided 
you are planning to come back!:) (I hope you have not just decided 
to go over to the Other Shore and just leave us here. I understand 
there are no Internet cafes over there.:))

Do you realise that all the descriptions of Fundamentalism quoted by 
you are the product of Western eyes and their ideologies? Is there 
another side to this? How did these agrarian, faith-centered 
communities feel when the Western bulldozer of technology, reason 
and arrogant superiority invaded their countries and cultures 
centuries ago?

Please enjoy your time away from theos-talk.

Much peace,

--- In, Bill Meredith <meredith_bill@...> 
> Dear Pedro,
> I apologize for the hurried answer.  I will be on vacation from 
> until Monday of the following week, so I will not be able to 
> our discussion now.  I have read the other's comments and am 
> that theos-talk can become a place of support and compassion 
rather than 
> remaining a battle-field.
>    There is a sense in which fundamentalism can be viewed as a 
> to transcendentalism.  Ralph Waldo Emerson said that 
> is the casting of the very oldest of thoughts into the mould of 
> times.  Hence transcendentalism is idealism as it appears to us 
today in 
> 2006.  Emerson said in 1837, "I am to new name all the beasts in 
> fields and all the gods in the sky.  I am to invite men drenched 
in Time 
> to recover themselves and come out of time, and taste their native 
> immortal air."  Each moment we breath we choose whether to focus 
> the timeless or the timeful. -- whether to create ourselves anew 
> confirm ourselves with language of the times past.  
Transcendentalism is 
> a focus upon the timeless man within, whereas fundamentalism might 
> viewed as a focus upon the timeful man without.
>    In Defenders of God: The Fundamentalist revolt Against the 
> Age, Bruce Lawrence defines fundamentalism as "the affirmation of 
> religious authority as holistic and absolute, admitting of neither 
> criticism nor reduction;  it is expressed through the collective 
> that specific creedal and ethical dictates derived from scripture 
> publicly recognized and legally enforced."  Lawrence lists 
five "family 
> resemblances" common to fundamentalism. 1) Fundamentalists are 
> of a minority viewpoint.  They see themselves as a righteous 
> Even when they are numerically a majority, they perceive 
themselves as a 
> minority.  2) They are oppositional and confrontational towards 
> secularists and "wayward" religious followers. 3) They are 
> level male elites led invariably by charismatic males. 4) 
> Fundamentalists generate their own technical vocabulary. 5) 
> Fundamentalism has historical antecedents, but no ideolgical 
>    The American Academy of Arts And Sciences funded a five year 
study of 
> Fundamentalism by scholars from around the world.  They list these 
> "family resemblances" of fundamentalists:
> 1. religious idealism as basis for personal and communal identity;
>    2. fundamentalists understand truth to be revealed and unified;
>    3. it is intentionally scandalous, (similar to Lawrence's point 
> language -- outsiders cannot understand it);
>    4. fundamentalists envision themselves as part of a cosmic 
>    5. they seize on historical moments and reinterpret them in 
light of 
> this cosmic struggle;
>    6. they demonize their opposition and are reactionary;
>    7. fundamentalists are selective in what parts of their 
tradition and 
> heritage they stress;
>    8. they are led by males;
>    9. they envy modernist cultural hegemony and try to overturn 
> distribution of power.
> The Five ideological characteristics  are:
>    1. fundamentalists are concerned "first" with the erosion of 
> and its proper role in society;
>    2. fundamentalism is selective of their tradition and what part 
> modernity they accept or choose to react against;
>    3. they embrace some form of Manicheanism (dualism);
>    4. fundamentalists stress absolutism and inerrancy in their 
> of revelation; and
>    5. they opt for some form of Millennialism or Messianism.
> The organizational characteristics include:
>    1. an elect or chosen membership;
>    2. sharp group boundaries;
>    3. charismatic authoritarian leaders; and
>    4. mandated behavioral requirements.
>  (source)
> The label "fundamentalist" is considered derogatory by some.  
> have seized upon its definition to make the word their own in the 
> sense that African American's have seized the word "nigger" and 
made it 
> their own.  In my opinion, the definition of the a label is only 
> useful as our understanding of its applicability to ourselves is.  
> Generally, it is not beneficial to call a fundamentalist a 
> fundamentalist.  It only further hardens their position and 
> their sense of being under attack for attempting to preserve 
> values from a by-gone era.  What is most useful to me is to search 
> own life and ferret out those aspects of myself that are 
> in nature.  What am I a "fundamentalist" about?  What god or beast 
do I 
> refuse to name anew, preferring instead to cling to the words and 
> of others?  There is my work for this lifetime!  Somewhere it is 
> that we each must write our own Secret Doctrine.  HPB is our 
example for 
> how to transcend the old forms by filling them anew with our own 
> spiritual energy.  I believe that the process of transcending the 
> and definitions of the past is the process of creating ourselves 
> i.e. writing our secret doctrine with fresh  spiritual insight 
> moment that we breath.  I am so far away from this ideal -- to far 
> in fact to see with any clarity the spiritual condition of anyone 
> than myself.  So I think that I should focus upon my own 
> and try and understand the meaning of my own life.  Einstein said, 
> answer this question at all [What is the meaning of life] implies 
> religion.  (..) The man who regards his own life as meaningless is 
> merely unfortunate but almost disqualified for life." 
> peace,
> bill
> pedro oliveira wrote:
> >
> > Bill, greetings from Dreamtime.
> >
> > As I see the world engulfed once more in the nightmare of war 
and its
> > ensuing atrocities and unceasing suffering, I feel theos-talk can
> > contribute to a saner perspective about it all by, for example,
> > inquiring into the following questions:
> >
> > What is fundamentalism? Where is its source? What nourishes it? 
> > does it maintain its grip on the human mind and heart? Can it 
ever end?
> >
> > I am not referring here specifically to 'theosophical' 
> > only, but fundametalism in itself. In a very enlightening 
> > in 'Parabola' (Winter 2005), Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr, one 
of the
> > most distinguished Islamic scholars in the world today, suggests 
> > the phenomeon of fundamentalism is basically a reaction to 
> > as an ideology. In other words, the modern mind with its 
emphasis on
> > intellect and reason, has tended to treat religion as a 'has 
been', as
> > a mere romantic-emotional exercise. Therefore, those belonging to
> > traditional religious environments reacted, sometimes violently, 
> > this perceived 'attack' of modernism on their religious 
> > Professor Nasr also points out that the fundamentalistic 
response to
> > modernism did not come from the mystical dimension of those
> > traditions, but from the more theologically regimented of its 
> >
> > May we have your views on the above?
> >
> > Warm regards,
> >
> > Pedro
> >
> >

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