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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.

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