I've recently had another encounter on Facebook that's worth recording and should be set against my two recent Facebook related postings: Viz: The flat earth new age conspiracy theorists and a fundamentalist's response to the London Bridge terrorist atrocity. Particularly relevant is the latter post as it concerned an American fundamentalist's rage over the UK treatment of Muslims - this fundamentalist blamed the UK as a whole for the recent Islamic terrorist attacks and therefore felt justified in showing no sympathy whatever; it would seem that nothing less than a draconian clamp down on Muslims, as a class, would satisfy this person.
I think its safe to say that Christian fundamentalists, as do all fundamentalists, have a strong sense of an us vs them identity and this is linked to the belief that those beyond the pale habitually habour malign motives and are therefore fully worthy of the kind fundamentalist ire and censorship such as we see, for example, coming from Ken Ham. As wiki says fundamentalists in general have:
But in spite of all that ...and here is the big "but"....it is very unwise if Christians, motivated by a indulgent desire to secure the moral high-ground, try to hold Muslims to these belligerent interpretations and traditions as if that is how a true Muslim should behave! No! Rather, Christians must encourage peaceable Muslims who wish to re-interpret their texts and traditions in less bellicose terms. In any case there is no reason for Christians to feel smug on this point: After all, the history of Christianity in the West is littered with bad interpretations of the Bible: Leaving aside the excesses of the Middle ages we only need look at contemporary times with its surfeit of spiritual pathologies found among some Christians: Viz: anti-science doctrines (young earthism, geocentrism, flat earth etc), anti-modern medicine doctrines, fideism, gnosticism, conspiracy theorism, authoritarianism, and worst of all cultic sectarianism. All the Christians who subscribe to such ideas will make loud claims to them being based on their "plain reading" of the Bible. There is a hankering among them for an easily read unambiguous literalism. This means that they find it hard to accept that the Bible is a book which in God's sovereign purpose clearly reflects the philosophy and world view of the writers and this must be factored in when interpreting the Bible. Needless to say, for the fundamentalists who seek epistemic short cuts to certainty this nuanced approach to the Bible is far too slippery and yields too ambiguous results for them to feel comfortable with it.
Now, let me get back to this latest Facebook encounter. I'm a member of a Facebook discussion group and the subject under discussion was Islamic terrorism; understandably enough in the light of recent events in the UK. I made a comment trying to express briefly some of the things I've mentioned above; in particular that Christians like myself aren't really in position to be overly morally smug towards Muslims. Below is my initial comment which was made in response to someone I shall refer to as "Bert Board". Unfortunately I've lost Bert's initial comment which proposed that Islamic terrorism has its roots in the Koran and explains why I replied with the following comment:
|I love pantomime villains: Just looking |
at this guy gets me in stitches!
After a comment promising he would get back to me it seems that the heat in the Kitchen was too great for Bert and he took my advice: He deleted his account (or made it invisible) and took all my comments, which were added as a reply to his comments, into oblivion - or so he might have thought; it's standard practice with me to get copies of the discussions I'm involved with straight away.
I'm well used to dealing with fundamentalist anti-science which we've all seen before - yawn! (although to be fair in such a brief contact I wasn't sure whether Bert was simply acting as devil's advocate for Christian fundamentalists). But what was really notable in this particular case is the use of the anti-Muslim line which is determined to cast Muslims into the pantomime bad guy, whether they are that way inclined or not, by drawing attention to traditions and texts which to the literal minded are easily interpreted as injunctions to achieve religious goals by force. I have noted this idiot approach to Muslims before: See the reference to a Jeremiah J Johnson here. But why try and push all Muslims into such a role when the majority who have lives in the West are likely to want peace and prosperity. A far more discerning, intelligent, nuanced and civilized concept of human villainy is needed. Reality is more complex and intractable than our caricatures and models render it.
* But some Christian fundamentalists are not far from highly bellicose thinking. See the two Christian fundamentalist pastors I mention in this post. Also, I remember long ago listening to a Christian fundamentalist who, on the basis of Old Testament references, was advocating the return of the death penalty.