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Saturday, October 08, 2005

No Fear

"Perfect Love Casts Out Fear" Posted by Picasa

Fundamentalism is on the march it seems. Whether it's Christian Zionism or creationism in the US, Hindu nationalism in Gujarat, Islamic extremism in the Middle East, corrosive repressive religion is rearing its ugly head again. Many put this down to a rejection of modernism, a reaction against the shallow amoral emptiness of secular liberalism or the hubris of scientism. Doubtless all these play their part but for my money, the real culprit is fear.

It is fear that brings out the atavistic response of the reptilian brain, only in humans there is the demonic complexity of the collective. When faced with an imminent threat (actual or imagined) humans bond together. A belief system can be key to this bonding. The ideology of the group, reinforced by opposition from the object of fear, (again, real or imagined and therefore, defended by paranoia), enforces irrational unthinking conformity from the group. Fundamentalism is born.

One thing is clear. Fundamentalism can never be undone by reason alone, (for reason is the classic enemy of the fundamentalist). Irrationality is the language of fundamentalism. You cannot confront irrationality with argument. If fundamentalism is driven by fear then it can only be undone by love, (for perfect love drives out fear - 1 John 4:18).

Of course, love rarely if ever finds its way onto the politician's agenda. Love rarely, if ever, is considered as an effective weapon against superstition and hatred. There is no "real politik" of love .... only bombs and propaganda.

Enter the Church. We DO have the resources to combat the ideological darkness of fundamentalism. The gospel is the power of the Crucified; the promise of the Risen One. But, who is up to the task? Could we dare to say:- "Here am I lord, send me." Befriend a hateful person today. See the power of Love to melt the most hardened of hearts. But do be prepared to die in the attempt for such is the character of a Love that loves even enemies. This kind of love can break the vicious circles of fear, the foul mother of all hatreds; but it is not for the faint hearted. Only faith will do. Only such a faith as this is truly rational.


Huw Raphael said...

To call "creationism" fundamentalism in the US - and to distance yourself from it - is to distance yourself from many Orthodox brothers and sisters. It also seems it is to deny the hymns of the Church which teach us of Adam and Eve fallen. And to accept a materialist teaching. I have yet to understand how an Orthodox person can sing those hymns on Sunday and reject the Creation story.

Fr. John Whiteford said...

The "Creationism" that is on the rise is the intelligent design theory, which actually is not a fundamentalist view of creation, and doesn't necessary even contradict some form of evolution. Instead, it presents scientific arguments that point to a creator. The press, however, wishes to present it as if it is the same as arguing for the a six (24 hour) day creation. It isn't. Even if evolution was valid, only God could have made it work.

Father Gregory said...

Thanks for that Fr. John.

I subscribe to Intelligent Design myself so I don't see any problem with that unless SOME ID proponents are going to try and exclude scientific research on the grounds that this is "holy territory" or to try and control the theoretical outcomes of evolutionary biology. By "creationism" I do NOT (of course) mean belief in a Creator (!!!) or an interventionist Creator ... both of which are bottom lines as far as a believer is concerned; rather I take this to mean the fundamentalist literalism of those who try and use Genesis as a science text book. These are still a force to be reckoned with even if they must not be confused with ID people. I still think a lot depends on what is meant by ID though.

Dear Huw

My answer to Fr. John applies to your question as well. You might want to check out my reconciling of evolution to the fall here, (tags won't probably work, use cut and paste into your browser):-

Scroll to the bottom of the page.

You might want to consider this from St. Augustine as well:-

"Even non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn."

- Saint Augustine, On the Literal Meaning of Genesis, Book 1, Chapter 19

Ian said...

Thank you for that Father.

Your explanation in your comment of your use of the word "Creationism" is helpful also: I've heard many Christians say they reject "Creationism" and that had me a bit worried. I now better understand.

The distrust of all science is a bit worrying in some sense (not that I think science knows all or should be used/accepted without thought). A friend I consider intelligent recently told me he thinks NASA lied about putting men on the moon. I was rather shocked.

Off to read your article...

Gloriana said...

Father, your blessing.

I always read your blog with interest, and this brief entry was one of the most beautiful and moving pieces I have read, anywhere, in weeks. Thank you for a very accurate and solid contribution - and for the reminder of what Christ's message really is.

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