I think the thing I find most troubling about fundamentalism, whether in politics or in religion, is this: it is the declaration of war that fundamentalists wage on anyone whose opinion or understanding of truth is different. In its more extreme forms, the fundamentalists take up swords and AK-47′s and seek to maim or kill their perceived enemies. In its more controlled forms, fundamentalists write nasty, hateful things about you. Or, they just label you, “write you off,” ignore, or hold you at arms length.
Now that I feel free of the fundamentalist way of thinking that incarcerated my soul for decades, I think the thing I find most troubling now about myself is the tendency I have of feeling I've arrived at some superior place of knowledge or understanding. If a fundamentalist is wrong in labeling me, which of course many of them do, I am wrong in looking down on them which of course what I struggle to keep from doing. I frequently act like a sophomore in high school who looks down on the incoming freshman class.
On this day of worship in the Christian tradition, I am reminded of something Saint Paul said (with just a little of my own paraphrase):
“Even if I know Hebrew and Greek and can fluently speak several languages but have not love, I’m just another noisy voice in a busy airport terminal.
“If I know, not only the Christian religion, but Buddhism, Hinduism, and a dozen others as well, but have not love, I’m just another religiously-open-minded fool.
“If I know more theology and scrupulously maintain a more pure orthodoxy…if I am more correct than Calvin and more courageous than Luther, but have not love, I’m just another religiously-narrow-minded fool.
“And, even if I could outdo Buffett and Gates and give it all away, but have not love, I’m just another generous, but bankrupt fool.
“Even now, with such ‘advanced’ understanding, I see so very little and I know ‘litt-ler’ still. I’m hardly as wise as I think I am. But this I know that one day I’ll know and so…so…will you.
What matters in this world…what really matters…is faith, hope and love. But nothing matters more than LOVE” (adapted from 1 Corinthians 13).
This is the secret to happiness. It's also the way to peace among religions, even peace among people within the same religion.