As a former Old Testament professor of mine expressed it, "One cannot understand fundamentalism until you recognize it is not a theological problem; it is a psychological problem."
The psychological problems vary with the individual: fear, doubt, anger, anxiety, unhealthy self-esteem, uncomfortableness with ambiguity and questioning, and most of all, the dangerous "need to be right."
I am certain that anyone who is against more things than they are for, or who lives in fear more than hope, is not exactly emotionally healthy.
The emerging power of the religious right is very scary for anyone, deeply spiritual or not, for any group of folks who "know they are right" will be all too quick to prove that you are wrong.
I believe if one begins to examine some of the bizarre behavior and pronouncements of fundamentalists, one can begin to see some of the various psychological disorders they have.
--Reverend such-and-such from somewhere
The following was my response letter--
After reading the Reverend's venomous attack on fundamentalism and fundamentalists, I kept wanting to look under my bed to make sure there weren't any fundamentalists hiding under it before I fell asleep each night.
All joking aside, I do now have a better understanding of the mind of a person who is scared of people "on the right," who often show our fear, doubt, anger and anxiety at the socialist, immoral and lawless direction America is being taken by people "on the left."
For this insight, I do thank the Reverend for a well-written letter.
However, I do question the alternatives to what he states is the fundamentalists' "dangerous need to be right." One alternative would be the "contrary need to be wrong," which most liberals mechanically execute as an apparent natural product of their particular natures.
In order to establish himself as "in the center," the Reverend could have added a few extra sentences so we would not suspect that he is on the religious or pagan left with so many secular humanist atheists and New Age pantheists.
I will personally assume that he is a moderate who, in this particular letter, has shared with us this view of the people to the right of him in order to explain why he thinks an abortionist and a friend were brutally murdered.
The Reverend may not have the need to be right or wrong. That would certainly be another alternative to the psychological problem that he states as the fundamentalists' "dangerous need to be right," Not having the need to be right or wrong would seem to be somewhat naïve and even apathetic to me. But that is just my personal opinion.
My perception of liberals feeling the contrary need to be wrong is something I've acquired from many years of observing liberalism as a religious philosophy and political movement. In theory, liberals claim they are tolerant of others and have open minds.
In practice, the liberals' "others" always seem to be social outcasts who display destructive behavior against themselves and against their families and fellow citizens. Indeed, liberals are the creatures who always start out defending and apologizing for the anti-social behavior of some and then often end by advocating that very behavior for everyone else in society, so no one feels odd. I have observed that liberals don't seem to want to place any "limits" on their tolerance of others.
The secret to liberals' open minds is they do not believe we can know what is absolute right and absolute wrong. Liberals believe everything is relative. They may really be for more things than they are against: this would simply mean they pretty much stand for everything.
I try my best to love liberals. It's just their contrary beliefs and opinions that I find so hard to understand or appreciate. I just can't let go of my own Christian fundamental beliefs. I'm one of those who have a "need to be right," which I realize some view as dangerous, bizarre behavior and a psychological disorder.
However, I must honestly admit that when I look all around me at what some call "liberal progress," sometimes I do feel like I'm ready for a straight-jacket.
--Kenneth J. Wolf #35 (09/07/94)
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