December 11, 2017

Fundamentalist Toxicity

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Fundamentalism is a problem, no matter what kind it is.

Aurora Dagny (a pseudonym) has written an article for The McGill Daily called, “Everything is problematic,” in which she tells her story about her involvement in radical leftist political groups and how she eventually escaped their unhealthy influence. “There is something dark and vaguely cultish about this particular brand of politics,” she writes.

Although Dagny maintains her support for leftist causes and what she calls “anti-oppressive politics,” she hones in on a particular problem she found among radical adherents — their fundamentalist zeal created a culture that became toxic to their own members.

She identifies four troublesome characteristics of the radical leftism that she knew and in which she participated:

  • Dogmatism
  • Groupthink
  • A crusader mentality
  • Anti-intellectualism

Dogmatism. For fundamentalists, beliefs become “sacred beliefs,” and any person or group who denies them is not just disagreeing, but morally culpable. Any deviation, even in tone, from the party line is a sign of a serious character defect.

Groupthink. The world is divided into believers and unbelievers, insiders and outsiders, us and them. Boundaries are maintained through policies that require strict conformity. As Dagny says, “When I was part of groups like this, everyone was on exactly the same page about a suspiciously large range of issues. Internal disagreement was rare. The insular community served as an incubator of extreme, irrational views.”

Crusader Mentality. She defines this as “an extreme self-righteousness based on the conviction that they are doing the secular equivalent of God’s work.” The world becomes a battleground of good vs. evil. It’s all black and white, and one must choose which side to be on.

Anti-intellectualism. Dagny describes groups that stress activism and verbally disdain the theoretical but fail to see that they are beholden to ideas themselves, ideas by which they harshly judge others. They are loathe to consider anything other than the party line and so they stop thinking and growing. Driven by zeal, they resort to “a lot of rhetoric and bluster, a lot of passionate railing against the world or some aspect of it, without a clear, detailed, concrete alternative.”

This is as good a concise summary of the fundamentalist ethos as I’ve seen. And I’m especially happy that an insider from the left end of the political spectrum has had the courage to admit this about groups in her world. We all need more humility and good judgment as we think about the things we believe and the causes we embrace.

Aurora Dagny retained enough self-awareness to keep thinking and discerning. Wisely, she moved on, staying committed to the causes she considered good, but cutting herself off from the bondage of mindless conformity.

Consuming zealotry and the group dynamics it creates is part of our common human sin problem. Fundamentalist toxicity can enter in to all sorts of groups — even the most religious of organizations. It divides and damages people wherever it appears.

If you are worried about a group of which you are a member and these characteristics sound eerily familiar, run — don’t walk — out of there as fast as you can.

Control is not love.

Absolute conformity is not a proper test of loyalty.

The people who come across as so charismatic and insightful are only telling you a small part of the story.

And I think I’m safe in saying that God (or Mother Earth) probably hasn’t called your little band of true believers to change the world.

You need to de-mythologize this group and see it for what it really is.

I am not saying there isn’t truth or value or meaning in anything this group believes. At some point, they may have helped you along in your journey. But I would urge to you step back for a moment, take a breath, ask someone on the “outside” for a more objective point of view, and start thinking and acting for yourself.

If you find yourself stuck and you want to get out, get help.

Comments

  1. OldProphet says:

    First! Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn occasionally. I actually came out if a fundie Baptist church. It wacked me out for years. Praise God for his leading and deliverance!

    • But I started writing before you! 😀

    • I once thought a more evangelical and charismatic church/approach was the answer too. Turns out…for me, at least…it was all the same. Flipside of the same coin.

      I’m glad you are doing ok, OP.

      • OldProphet says:

        Thanks, Stuart. I love being a charismatic. It’s. My place in the Body of Christ. I know some don’t like it’s theology, do not agree with it, and so on and so. However, unless you can specifically and biblically prove that the Charismatic movement is outside the bounds of the Faith, then aren’t we all brothers and sisters in Christ? It has been my contention that all denominations have somewhat aberrant teachings and almost al have somewhere in their history “spiritual skeletons in their closets”? But nevertheless, no one group or church or denomination is exempt from rigorous theological examination of their beliefs or doctrines. That’s why I follow Imonk, I live the repartee of all the thoughts ideas, and discussions that CM allows here.

        • However, unless you can specifically and biblically prove that the Charismatic movement is outside the bounds of the Faith, then aren’t we all brothers and sisters in Christ?

          I don’t like this question and this line of thinking. It’s ungracious. “We may believe differently, but we’re believers too!” Sure. The question reminds me of this Fundamentalist topic in general.

          But I’ll bite, and say it depends on how you define things.

          Sam Storms? He’s in. Grudem? Eh…ok. Mahaney? Double eh…ok…maybe.

          The KC Prophets? The Lakeville Crowd? How about the Mormons? Nah, probably not.

          Are pentecostals/charismatics my brothers and sisters? Yes. But I tend to draw the line when they go beyond the Bible and especially when they start following any Restorationist talk. Which is almost part and parcel of classic pentecostalism, the recovering of the gifts, the “latter rain”, the end days outpouring, etc.

          Do you see the distinction I’m making? This wasn’t a discussion I wanted to have. I would point back to what I said initially: I thought the answers for me could be found in a charismatic type of theology. By and large, I was wrong, and it left me just as damaged.

          (although currently one of the best teachers I’ve found on faith is a Word of Faith guy, but I switch him off when he starts talking party line or praising anti-intellectuals like Wigglesworth)

          • Ever notice it’s easy to criticize the gnostics or pelagianists or whomever because of how far in the past they are? But mention more modern people like Finney or Aimee Semper McPherson, and the gloves come off. We’re still too close to them for most people to look at them and see what damage they caused.

          • And then there are those people we sweep under the rug, no true scotsman style, like the guy who founded Zion, Illinois…

            We need more robust christian history dragged into the spotlight. Warts and all.

        • Let me throw it back to you, OP. Since we started here.

          Amongst the pentecostals and charismatics, whom would you decry as being legitimately outside of the faith, despite their claims of being in? Or in general, if those groups would police themselves, how would the lines be drawn?

          • I know some don’t like it’s theology, do not agree with it, and so on and so.

            This right here is why I responded. This rhetoric is what triggered me. The assumption, naturally and to no fault of yours, OP, is that that theology is normal and correct, as opposed to just another steam of thinking or doctrinal stance. Charismaticism then is the normal and natural way of Christianity. And those who don’t believe in it are not normal or natural christians. In fact, they may even be sub Christians. They have yet to experience the “true/greater/next level” of Christianity.

            That’s a dividing line for me. That will always put me on the defensive.

            “We follow Christ! We follow Paul! We follow Apollos!” Yeah, well we follow the Holy Spirit.

            It’s not that people don’t like it’s theology (ie, they reject the truth because of their feeeeelings or desire for sin/nominalism). It’s not that people don’t agree with it (because it’s true, duh). It’s that for many, it is simply not true theology. And a gracious discussion, seemingly among believers who mutually love and follow Jesus (and with clear definitions of open/closed issues), will not start from that position.

            Here’s a link that can better explain what I’m saying –

            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2015/02/20/the-framework-of-fundamentalist-propaganda-distorts-how-we-view-every-religion/

            I hope this clarifies. OP, I don’t blame you or your response, but I need to explain why I at least respond often the way I do.

    • Actually, at the end of the day, I don’t know if I care anymore. I bristle when someone suggests believers in my life who aren’t X aren’t really “true” believers. But that’s just a personal level. Ultimately, it’s all still Christianity, and it’s an intramural debate. Fan fiction debates, to get even deeper.

      Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, whatever…they’re all still Christian.

      I’m less concerned about which is the right true accurate brand anymore. They all have their different flavors, strengths and weaknesses. If you want to be a Christian, find one that you like, and embrace it.

      I’m ready to be outside, past and beyond all that.

      • I would not be that inclusive, but agree with your general thought process.

        One of the many reasons I am quite happy with my Christian faith expression (RC) is that the Catholic Church feels that all faith expressions have at least some tiny piece of the truth.

        This gal feels strongly that some have a much higher percentage of truth than others, however…..

  2. I spent the first three years of my Christian life involved in a fundamentalist Christian cult called The Children of God, a.k.a. The Family, and I can testify that even though one may leave the group itself, the patterns of thinking and reacting to others takes a number of years to begin to wane.

    Most every fundamentalist cult, religious, as in my case, or secular, as in Dagney’s case, have some solid beliefs which have a basis in truth. There are also GOOD things about the group that are usually highlighted in the true believer’s mind, crowding out the doubt, and retarding the need for self examination, and THESE are the things that hang on when a person leaves.

    If you are close to someone who is involved in such a group my advice is to try to refrain from “proving” them wrong, and from pointing out the BAD things about the group. That tactic only reinforces the person’t resolve, even IF they are having doubts. Just be a friend, listen to them, make some observations about inconsistencies in their doctrine when it is brought up, but do NOT argue. Your job should be to put a stone in their shoe, so to speak, allowing THEM to come to conclusions. DO not let these people isolate themselves or become hermetically sealed into their cultic environment. This is why I stayed with the group I was involved with for three years, we lived in exclusive communes, had group classes, group worship, and were required to memorize scripture daily and quote them while doing menial tasks. I was submerged in the cult.

    Few people stay involved for extended periods of time, so be patient with them. They will need a friendly face and a willing ear when they finally begin to come down. Religious or political, its all the same tactics.

    On the upside, for me, I memorized hundreds of scripture verses and became very conversant in bible doctrine and narrative, all of which have stayed with me for years and have served me well in teaching the bible in a church setting. And an added benefit has been that I can see cultic propensities in church activities before they become a problem, and believe me, EVERY church runs into this in one form or another.

    Timely post Chaplain Mike

    • Oscar, thanks. I was looking forward to your comments on this one.

    • Oscar, this is a great post.

      I sat on the sidelines for years as the Emergent Conversation developed and watched this very thing. Many who came out of fundamentalism had a hard time getting their fundamentalism to leave them. Most noteworthy, of course, is everyone’s favorite whipping boy, Marc Driscoll. Curiously, he was one of the first victims of the inherent, albeit unacknowledged, fundamentalist tendencies of the EC. Marc and the rest of the gang parted ways back in the early days because Marc wasn’t “truly” EC. He didn’t dot the egalitarian i’s and cross the LGBTQ t’s sufficiently. That was my first red flag that the more things claimed to change, the more they stayed the same.

      One of the things I appreciate most about what you’ve written is highlighting the good that came out of your association with the group. I too am grateful for the emphasis on Bible reading, scripture memorization, and daily devotions. They were actually the key to my escape from a fundamentalist mindset. I grew up among the Landmark Baptists of the Sovereign Grace (Calvinistic) variety and after reading the Bible through a number of times, especially the Gospels and Acts, I came to the conclusion that what I was hearing from the pulpit was not matching what I was reading in the Bible.

      And I want to be thankful once again for IM and the space it’s created here for sincere reflection and delightful humor to explore the faith in a safe space.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I spent the first three years of my Christian life involved in a fundamentalist Christian cult called The Children of God, a.k.a. The Family…

      As in “Mo David and the COGs”?
      “Flirty Little Fishy”?

      • Yup! Those are the guys. But I got out just as the “Flirty Fishy” stuff came about. As luck would have it, sexual shenanigans for the rank and file began AFTER my exit.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          As my old Dungeonmaster used to say:

          “Most cults are started so the cult leader can get (1) Rich, (2) Laid, or (3) Both.”

    • f you are close to someone who is involved in such a group my advice is to try to refrain from “proving” them wrong, and from pointing out the BAD things about the group.

      This is where I’m at. I just keep quiet, talk about the things I can talk about, and quietly remove the rest of their influence or theological sources from my life. I don’t need that anymore.

    • I was part of a cult in the late seventies in New York that used to walk the city and ride the subways with big red Jesus Saves pins on our shirts. It also was communal and sounds Much like your experience. Everything, money and possessions went to the group. I once told a brother, “I love dogs,” because we were playing with a dog. Well you would think I had told him that I am more partial to murdering a woman than marrying her. Turns out dogs in scripture were code for whatever and my comment went against the group speak grain. He set me straight so I never say that anymore.

      • Jesus People weirdness, I’m guessing. “let your freak flag fly”.

        In hindsight, when I found out people in my old church would carry/roll a 10′ painted white cross around town to evangelize anyone they could stop, that’s when I should have walked away.

        Instead I thought it was noble or effective or something. A hint at the old glory days back when you could pack a room just by mentioning you had a tamborine with your worship.

        There were no glory days.

  3. Rick Ro. says:

    Maybe it’s because of the nature of this blog, but so far the only comments have been about fundemental religion (the “right”). Does anyone here have any expeiences similar to Aurora Dagny’s in the world of fundemental leftism/liberalism?

    • This is not quite where you’re coming from, but I recommend going to Matthew Paul Turners blog (in blogroll) and reading his post on progressive fundamentalism.

    • As a former debater with atheists and evolutionists, I can assure you that “fundamentalist atheism” and “fundamentalist naturalism” is alive and well. I read Dan Dennett and Richard Dawkins frequently and find they are often the recipients of the same sort of opprobrium heaped on Christians. And deservedly so.

    • Richard Hershberger says:

      If we are talking about political leftism, there virtually is no such thing in present day America. It is rare to find a real Marxist, and even rarer to find one middle aged or younger. The Overton Window has moved so far to the right that people will, with no sense of irony, decry as “socialist” tax rates which are lower than under Reagan. The national conversation nowadays ranges from what used to be considered slightly left of center, over to what used to be considered the far right. The far left isn’t included.

      I am just old enough to have gone to college at the tail end of the era when actual Marxists were part of the conversation. They had a distinctly quaint air to them by that time, but they still controlled my college’s student newspaper and radio station, so they had prominence beyond their actual numbers. And yes, they had all the bad traits described in this post.

      • Since you are old enough then you remember the politics of Hubert Humphrey. In his day his views would have been considered to be on the left side of the spectrum, but if read today you’d swear he was a conservative.

        The point is that the left/right dichotomy is not based on anything in the past, it is more a comparison issue on the views of today! Take Humphrey, for example. If he was “left” in the sixties then what has left morphed into today? Terms like Marxist/communist are just stones that get thrown in today’s world. They are an ideology that has slowly eroded and morphed into something else.

        My point is that name calling is no real way of examining belief systems. A better gauge is the biblical one” “Ye shall know them by their fruits”.

        • Humphrey was a centrist Democrat, about as far from being a “leftist” as you could imagine, though I’m willing to bet thwt the John Birch Soviety thought he was some sort of “communist.” They thought that about everyone who didn’t adhere to their views, as in the article CM cited.

          • Centerist is what he is called today, but that was not his m.o. in the sixties. I was there and was a Democrat at the time. But I guess if you had to make a mile post for leftist politics at that time you’d have to use McGovern as your poster boy.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            To the John Birch Society, anyone who was NOT a full-honk Bircher was Part of The World Communist Conspiracy(TM).

            The Dwarfs are for The Dwarfs, and Won’t Be Taken In.

            P.S. Slacktivist claims Tim LaHaye had Bircher connections at some point. Can anyone confirm this?

          • Jack Kennedy remains the liberal darling boy but was actually fairly conservative in thought and action.

          • Oscar, i was around then, too, so i think the fact that there are divergent views on this from people who lived through it might point up the fact that there are competing from the time. which is one of the reasons that i mentioned John Birchers. I remember them, too.

          • Further, none of the mainstream Democrats of that time were true “leftists.” They were not Marxists, they were not enamored of Herbert Marcuse’s ideas, they were not secret Party members or KGB plants or anything even remotely close.

            And yeah, Kennedy was pretty conservative, as was LBJ.

          • Christiane says:

            I remember the Bircher days and the candidacy of Barry Goldwater. The MAJORITY of the country freaked out because they thought the ‘far right’ was going to start a nuclear war with Russia if the far right came to power.

            I remember this famous (and effective) ad:
            http://www.livingroomcandidate.org/commercials/1964/peace-little-girl-daisy

            the truth is that in those days, the word ‘conservative’ did not have an acceptable connotation with the American people . . . there really was a fear of the perceived craziness of the far right, and films like ‘Dr. Strangelove’ helped to fuel that fear

            today, the tables have turned, but the country is still very leary of them what claims ‘Armageddon’ is to be played out in the Middle East and that will usher in the return of Christ . . . when those fundamentalists take the stage, they ARE often fiercely political in how they have conflated their fundamentalist views with their abject worship of the Republican Party with a thought to the ‘soon to come End Times’

            strange, and stranger . . .

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            . . . when those fundamentalists take the stage, they ARE often fiercely political in how they have conflated their fundamentalist views with their abject worship of the Republican Party with a thought to the ‘soon to come End Times’

            As an extreme example of how far it can go, ISIS is also very much into the “soon to come End Times”.

      • Richard you’re right of course. “Leftism” in this country is largely a fantasy of the religious and political right. People who think the suggestion that it’s not a good idea to toss your Big Mac wrapper out the car window when you’re finished scarfing your burger down is “radical environmentalism”. People who think extending marriage rights undermines marriage. People who think Obama is a “liberal”.

        On the other hand the characteristics listed in the article sure sound a lot like the Southern Baptist church of my youth. Religious groups still corner the market on toxic thinking.

        • Okay, I’ll bite. Please tell us what you think Obama is if he is not a “liberal”.

          • If he was up in Canada his policies would be parallel to those of the conservative party.

            The Liberals in Canada would claim that the Canadian Conservative party = US Republican party, but when you look at actual policy, U.S. Democrat and Canadian Conservative are probably the closest comparison that you can get.

            So from a Canadian perspective, Obama is pretty conservative, especially when compared to the other two major Canadian parties.

          • Michael, i think that’s an accurate reading of him. The current Republicanmparty is nothing like that same party back in the 60s and 70s, as it has taken an alarming rightward turn. We need a truly viable multiparty system down here, imo.

          • The political spectrum is free floating and relative. It’s all perspective. The further to the “right” you are the more nearly to the “left” the “center” will seem.

            Obamacare is a 25 year old Republican initiative with tweaks. All Obama’s inside guys are ex-Wall Street types. And so on.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I find the pseudonym “Aurora Dagny” to be an in joke.

      I’m following Daylight Atheist’s chapter-by-chapter deconstruction of Atlas Shrugged, and “Dagny Taggart” is the name of Ayn Rand’s most obvious Author Self-Insert in it.

      (Ayn Rand — now there was another Cult Leader and Fundamentalist of her own non-theistic Faith.)

  4. Dan from Georgia says:

    No experience/past in fundamentalism here, but I have to work with someone who is borderline fundie, and it is scary to see how they think they are always in the right.

    Rick Ro: Again, no experience with that, but I have noticed an undercurrent of self-righteousness in many so-called left/liberal/progressive blogs.

    • Leftism, especially the more virulent variety , is really a religion. They have their articles of faith that, if you do not hold to them, they will turn on you in a heartbeat.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        “DIE, HERETIC!”
        “DIE, APOSTATE!”
        (Though with a lot more syllables in the words.)

      • I used to think that when I listened to nothing but Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, and my pastors.

        I don’t agree now.

        Goes hand in hand with people saying “educated beyond their intelligence”.

        Think that’s point #4 above.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      This is the reason so many guys I run with are Skeptical-to-Hostile about Global Warming/Climate Change/Whatever.

      They’ve had run-ins with Oh-So-RIGHTEOUS Gaia’s Anointed rubbing their Moral Righteousness in their faces. “I’M SAAAAAVING THE PLAAAAAAAANET!”

      Dogmatism, Groupthink, CRUSADER Mentality, and PSEUDO-Intellectualism.
      Just like the Red Fanboys of the Cold War and New Left of The Sixties(TM).

      • There’s a twitter bot called @RedScareBot that I absolutely love. Mention communism, and he’ll be there to comment on it. It’s been going for years, I think I first triggered it back in 2009/2010. Absolutely love seeing it show up, it’s always funny to me.

        https://twitter.com/redscarebot

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Marx & Lenin DID have a lot of fanboys over here from the First Russian Revolution through the Late Cold War. I remember the tail end of them in the Social Justice Movement of the Eighties. Dogmatism, Groupthink, Crusader Mentality, Pseudo-Intellectualism, and this smug condescension towards/dismissal of anyone or anything (like testimony of actual refugees from Cuba or Warsaw Pact countries) which contradicted their True Way.

          For whatever reason, the most Fundy of them always seemed to be “Yuppie Puppies” from upper-class families. (But then, you also see that pattern in Cult recruiting — including Extreme Islamic cults like ISIS. Sort of appeal to young idealism coupled with channeling “I have to be just the opposite” rebellion against Mommy & Daddy.)

          • HUG, what do you mean by the “1st Russian revolution”? As far as I am aware, there has only been one, but I’m thinking you might be referring of the breakdown the Soviet system and the independence of many former SSRs + Warsaw Pact countries. Which happened without armed revolt.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            …the breakdown the Soviet system and the independence of many former SSRs + Warsaw Pact countries.

            Which I have heard called “The Second Russian Revolution”.

            Though I also heard the 1989 Warsaw Pact breakup called “Gorbachev’s Fire Sale.”

  5. Where I’ve noticed the most rabid sort of ‘religious’ fundamentalism apart from the conservative types are in the environmental arena.

    Some of those folks have openly stated that those who disagree with them ought to be locked up. Some even advocate a culling of humanity to get the environment “back to where it needs to be.”

    • The “progressive” wing of Christianity is just leftism with a little Christ added in for justification. The more important aspects of it have little to do with the bible but a LOT to do with “social justice” and “enviro-justice”.

      There is such a wide swing of adherance in our faith that there is plenty of room for politically progressives and conservatives to have common ground in faith. But when the ancillary beliefs take precedence over the spiritual, well then, it ceases to be about Christ.

      • Clay Crouch says:

        I’m not sure what you mean by ancillary beliefs. Would you elaborate?

      • The “progressive” wing of Christianity is just leftism with a little Christ added in for justification.

        Really? Is it also true then that all conservative Christianity is just rightism with Jesus thrown in for justification? Or are they the only ones of the True Faith?

        • Mike H, you’re reading into something that isn’t there. Inevitably whenever we start discussing fringe belief systems it has the tendency to turn into a “I know you are but what am I?” kind of thing.

          I don’t know how much you follow this blog, but editorially it tends to lean a little left of center. At least many of its regular posters do, but they would maintain that they are “centrists”. So, just to try to balance things out some of us “centrist” conservative people like to weigh in with their impressions.

          Now, concerning your designation of “conservative” Christians being the polar opposite of leftist Christians, I think you are confusing meanings. A conservative Christian does not necessarily hold to guns and Republicans kind of thinking. Maybe that is the impression that YOU have in your mind, but that is not reality.

          Leftism is a fringe belief system that holds to stuff like liberation theology, PETA-like philosophies that animals have the same rights as humans, a fetus is the equivalent of a decayed tooth, Mother Gaia relies on humans to save her, and on and on. Yes, there ARE Christians who hold to these belief, and they will quote scripture to back it up.

          And on the other side are the Bircher-like, God loves guns, homos are perverts, etc. wing who ALSO claim that this is what Christ would teach if He appeared in human form today.

          BOTH sides are mixing political philosophy with religious belief, and BOTH sides are in error. A study of what Jesus REALLY said will reveal these charlatans for what they are: phonies!

          If we want to use terms such as “liberal” and “conservative” when speaking of different ways of expressing faith then we’d better jettison politics altogether. Mixing politics and religion ends up being toxic and counter productive. As Christians we are all brothers and sisters and the political clothes whith which we adorn ourselves will be burned away in time. Believe the best in your Christian family, refrain from criticizing except face to face, and pray for ALL of them!

          • Amen I say to you, Oscar!

            I was thinking about the comments here (especially the political ones) as I fell asleep last night, and woke up with the profoundly simple thought about all this…..

            …..definitions of left and right are totally based on where YOU think the “CENTER” is [or should be] !

          • scrapiron says:

            “A conservative Christian does not necessarily hold to guns and Republicans kind of thinking. Maybe that is the impression that YOU have in your mind, but that is not reality.

            Leftism is a fringe belief system that holds to stuff like liberation theology, PETA-like philosophies that animals have the same rights as humans, a fetus is the equivalent of a decayed tooth, Mother Gaia relies on humans to save her, and on and on.”

            Holy Strawman, Oscar! This could go in a logic textbook!

      • yes i”m getting tired of progressive vs literalist in Christian circles – sometimes we all just need to chill!

      • Richard Hershberger says:

        If you think that social justice is not a Biblical concern then your reading of scripture is a bit selective for my taste.

        • Any time you have to tack on a term in front of “justice” then you cheapen the concept. Communists believed in “social justice”, So did Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez. There is a very wide range of things that are called by that name, some real and some just cynically manipulative. Stick to the biblical description of justice and work on understanding THAT and you will not have to make up separate branches of the “justice” trope.

          It is apparent that you believe the worst of me. If you were fair you would ask “What did you mean by…” instead of rushing to a conclusion that puts YOU on a higher plane.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Some of those folks have openly stated that those who disagree with them ought to be locked up. Some even advocate a culling of humanity to get the environment “back to where it needs to be.”

      Of course Mother Gaia’s Faithful will NEVER be the ones culled.
      “THE PLAAAAAANET WILL THANK US!!!!!”

      The Perfect Utopian Omelet of The Cause always justifies smashing more and more eggs.

      This goes back to the French Revolution, where the Jacobins planned a Depopulation Program to reduce France’s population to the ideal number of the Perfect State in Plato’s Republic. It foundered on technology — all the proposed methods (la milliatreuse, vertical deportation in the rivers, giant guillotines) wouldn’t work fast enough, though one suggestion was “mass asphyxiations by means of gas”.

      And if you’re REALLY into Culling(TM), there’s always the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (actual group), whose goal is to eradicate the Cancer of Humanity that infects The Plaaaaaanet. (You can watch documentaries(TM) on cable how The Plaaaaaaaanet Will Heal Herself once the Cancer of Humanity is Expunged. Just don’t breathe too deeply while watching them; you want to minimize your carbon footprint.)

  6. Wendy Duncan’s book I CAN’T HEAR GOD ANYMORE: LIFE IN A DALLAS CULT should be bought and read by everyone who has been in a cult or high-pressure religious group, or who is concerned about a friend’s or family member’s involvement in such – or who just wants to learn what it is like to be in one and leave. She and her husband Doug were members for years in Ole Anthony’s Trinity Foundation group, and since leaving have become counselors and experts on cults and their effects on people. And those effects can indeed be long-term, as some people here have remarked. Find out more at their web site http://dallascult.com

    If you are anywhere near Dallas/Fort Worth, they have free monthly group meetings.

    • Yes, *that* Ole Anthony, the guy that all the networks and reporters turn to when there is a televangelist or megachurch scandal. For some reason they choose to overlook Ole’s own history of religious corruption and abuse.

  7. Both the left and right mercilessly deride moderates. This lends to the lack of intellectualism on both sides. Being able to objectively understand both sides is not evidence of being wishy-washy.

  8. Michael Z says:

    I was talking with a psychology PhD student recently, and he mentioned the fact that the human brain doesn’t really finish developing until the age of 24. Until then, you’re not fully “adult” in how you think. And one of the differences is that children tend to think about things in much more concrete, black-and-white terms.

    I know a lot of people who were either far-right or far-left in college, and became much more moderate in their mid 20s. So, maybe in a way it’s normal for young 20-somethings to be fundamentalist; the more worrisome problem is when your community hampers your mental or emotional or relational development to the point where even when you’re older, your mind is still operating in that childish mode.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      But there’s a helluva lot of Arrested Development Cases out there.

    • No disrespect intended, but that’s why whenever I read or hear a news item about college students (or even high school students) protesting about some ‘horrible injustice’, my immediate thought is, ‘let’s hear what they think in another 10 or 15 years’. It’s actually scary to think how much in our country (from the economy to politics) turns on this infatuation with youth. Off topic rant – I’m over it now.

      Having said that, I became a Christian at 19, and immediately went headlong into a fundamentalist SBC church where everything was black and white, and remained in that environment for 30 years (except for 5 refreshing years with American Baptists), even though I saw its weaknesses early on (specifically anti-intellectualism and unquestioning group think). I am still a ‘recovering fundamentalist’ (and there’s no-one more obnoxious than an ex-drinker, an ex-smoker, or an ex-fundamentalist).

    • I’ve often wondered if I’m stunted developmentally in some ways, because I typically seem to be 5 years behind with everything in life. Although right now I feel physically 5 years younger, mostly diet and exercise. Career wise, I’m definitely where I should be 5 years after college…but I graduated college 5 years late while being in a cult.

      It’s been interesting seeing myself visiting my old university. I’m starting to notice things I never saw my entire time there, like anything above the ground. It’s like my head was in the clouds while my entire being was depressed below the ground.

      When your mind and thinking and life changes…all of a sudden, you start noticing everything you missed. And it’s a beautiful world.

  9. What I like the most about her post was the solutions she proposed.

    * Embrace humility.
    * Treat people as individuals.
    * Learn to be diplomatic

    I’ll fully cite the fourth:

    Fourth, take a systems approach to the political spectrum. Treat the pursuit of the best kind of society as an engineering problem. Think about specific, concrete proposals. Would they actually work? Deconflate desirability and feasibility. Refine your categories beyond simple dichotomies like capitalism/socialism or statism/anarchism.

    Even outside of politics, I think we should use these in any of dealings in group dynamics.

    Good stuff, and an enlightening post. Thanks.

  10. Dogmaticism, Groupthink, Crusader Mentality, and Anti-Intellectualism. I think those are a good starting spot, but we may need to add another one to the list, of which I’m struggling to find a right word, but as a placeholder, let’s go with “Reality”.

    The four on their own work great for those who walk into an organization unaware of it’s true nature. It’s how I ended up in my five years in that fundamentalist charismatic group. However, that doesn’t explain my childhood in the IFB groups. When you are born into (or at a very young age move in to, in my case) a Fundamentalist group, there is no outside reality. There is just reality, and make believe. Or fantasy. Or demonic lies.

    It’s hard to explain unless you’ve been in it. When you question, you are questioning the very nature of existence itself. There aren’t alternate viewpoints. There aren’t alternate interpretations. There is no healthy way of disassociating and looking inside. There is just the Truth (maybe even TRUTH), and to question that is not only sin, but also silly. You so silly. Of course you know what you are being taught is true, why do you choose to deny it? Let God be true and every man a liar.

    For fundamentalists, beliefs become “sacred beliefs,” and any person or group who denies them is not just disagreeing, but morally culpable.

    But it’s more than that. It’s questioning the nature of existence/reality itself. It’s denying the sky is blue, the grass is green, the earth is brown. You are made to literally feel silly. Which for people like me, who tend to live in our heads, leads to such massive angst, cognitive dissonance, and seething rage at the injustice of it all or illogic that we tend to act out or beat ourselves to put these thoughts to death.

    The world is divided into believers and unbelievers, insiders and outsiders, us and them.

    And further divided into people who KNOW the truth, and people who secretly know the truth but choose to deny it. I mean, God wrote it on our hearts, right? We all secretly know things to be true. You can see it in evangelism tactics to atheists; they really secretly truly know there is a God, they just repress that information because they want consequence free sin.

    Everyone knows the truth, Fundamentalists just acknowledge it.

    They are loathe to consider anything other than the party line and so they stop thinking and growing.

    Because it is too painful. Reality, existence, LIFE ITSELF is at stake. I see this over and over with people, on any number of topics, who simply cannot comprehend, even theorize, about alternate forms of thinking, because they can’t get over the mental hurdle of “that’s silly, we all know TRUTH is this”. Especially if they grew up “in the faith”, they lack an exterior perspective to consider where they are at. And to gain one is to question and doubt and backslide.

    How often do you hear people say to “doubt your doubts”?

    There’s a reason I respond with “doubt the doubts about your doubts.” Because that phrase is nothing but control, a gentle mental guiding to comfort people and tell them to come back to their way of thinking. After all, we’re reasonable people; we wouldn’t believe anything silly. And you know the truth. Why do you choose to deny it? Just have faith.

    • I think something finally broke in me the last few weeks. Or was healed, I don’t know which. I haven’t spent as much time weeping in a long time. Reading that I Fired God book, having some talks with my parents and others who grew up in the same cult environments, throwing away all my christian books, deleting all my bookmarks, removing all my podcasts…and seeing the lives and testimonies of a few who live such a jesus-filled life without needing church, theology, or even God to an extent…something has changed.

      By faith, I believe it’s for the better. There may still be some pain and growth coming, but it’s real growth and healing pain. The kind that gives way to joy. Never apologize for joy. Never apologize for being and wanting to be happy.

      A year ago, I was still miserable, unhappy, heavily depressed…and hiding it. Nowadays, I’m doing better, and I’m not hiding it. The love and care of others has made all the difference. The love and care of myself, first and foremost, is making all the difference.

      Darrell of SFL wrote this a few months ago, and it’s very true and helpful.

      http://www.stufffundieslike.com/2014/12/im-not-fine-and-thats-fine

      • Stuart, this is good news indeed. Good for you!

        • Is it? I hope so. I may be a functioning agnostic now. Or atheistic christian. I’m not sure.

          I think it’s good news. But it comes at the expense of every value that was instilled in me the past 30 years.

          • Chew it up, eat the meat, spit out the bones. I’m still doing two steps forward, one step back, which has worked all these years, expect to keep doing it for the duration. So far haven’t found anything that didn’t have something worth keeping. Even knowing what to avoid is good learning, puts you in a better position to understand others. CM mentions Matthew Paul Turner above. His experience was not as extreme as yours but might be helpful anyway in extrication without meltdown.

          • Chew it up, eat the meat, spit out the bones.

            That phrase is a trigger for me, as the cult employed it often. They could use it to justify listening to any aberrant teacher or idea because you could always find one or two good things in it, and magically discard the rest as if you never heard it. I’d call it akin to trying to sustain yourself each week on that part of the chicken wing everyone throws away. There may be eat, but it’s all bones, and not worth it at all.

            It’s good advice. Just as helpful as those “top 10 ways to see if you are in a cult”, “how to tell if you suffer from spiritual abuse”, etc type of posts and quizzes. But then you realize it applies equally to those who are so eager to hand them out to you.

            Is there a term for preemptive discrediting?

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Chew it up, eat the meat, spit out the bones.

            That assumes they’re not trying to unload a bag of dry bones on you.

          • “Is there a term for preemptive discrediting?”

            There is now. My apologies for pushing that button. The technique of gleaning good while culling out the bad seems to me workable in any life situation I can think of, but definitions of good and bad obviously can differ with the point of view. I believe it is important to maintain as much of a positive attitude as can be mustered up, even if a dim spark, but not a phony all is wonderful. You seem to be dealing with this on a conscious level pretty well, and that is important to minimize Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Easier said than done. Expressing gratitude and blessing for life experience has proved helpful for me. sometimes done thru clenched teeth with knotted fists.

        • warms my heart

      • Danielle says:

        Stuart, this is well put. Especially this bit:

        “It’s questioning the nature of existence/reality itself. It’s denying the sky is blue, the grass is green, the earth is brown. You are made to literally feel silly. Which for people like me, who tend to live in our heads, leads to such massive angst, cognitive dissonance, and seething rage at the injustice of it all or illogic that we tend to act out or beat ourselves to put these thoughts to death.”

        This is the worst feeling – that for anything to be remain true or good or hopeful in the world, you cannot trust yourself, your perceptions, your feelings, or your judgments. It really does feel like going crazy.

        I glad that you’ve reached a turning point, a point where you feel that you have the latitude to get time and space to debrief… and discover and reform a set of beliefs that ‘ring true’ to you.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Dogmaticism, Groupthink, Crusader Mentality, and Anti-Intellectualism.

      Though in Fundamentalism of the Left, you’re more inclined to find Pseudo-Intellectualism than Anti-Intellectualism.

      “Intelligence 18, Wisdom 3.”
      — Old School D&D proverb

      “You don’t need any intellect to be an Intellectual.”
      — G.K.Chesterton, one of the Father Brown mysteries

      “They were Intellectuals, and were always reminding you of that Fact.”
      — George R R Martin, the first Wild Cards anthology (origin story of The Radical/Captain Trips)

    • Outstanding comments Stuart. I hope many will find guidance and help in them.

      • Thanks Chaplain Mike. I love being here, and you guys mean the world to me. Even if I have to blame you all for subtly pushing and nudging me to where I am today, lol.

  11. I guess I was an honest-to-goodness full-fledged, 32nd-degree, card-carrying fundamentalist, having been re-baptized in a Bible church in Florida whose pastor had IFCA (Independent Fundamental Churches of America) ties. John R. Rice’s newspaper, The Sword of the Lord, could be obtained in the foyer (translation: narthex) of the church, along with news of the Rev. Carl McIntyre. Scripture was KJV only, preferably with the dispensational notes of C. I. Scofield. In the four corners of our church’s weekly newspaper ad were the words INDEPENDENT! FUNDAMENTAL! PRE-MILLENIAL! DISPENSATIONAL! Later, when Uncle Sam moved me to the midwest, I joined the GARBC (General Association of Regular Baptist Churches) whose name imples — no, it states — that all other Baptists are somehow irregular. The GARB folks believed in “second-degree separation” (i.e., “from every brother that walketh disorderly”) and refused to support the Billy Graham Crusade in Omaha because its namesake was “too compromise-y with the world”….you don’t get much more fundamentalist than that. In the game of “my fundie credentials are better than your fundie credentials” I would definitely qualify as a finalist. I’m pretty sure what led me out of those circles was a combination of the Holy Spirit and all the scripture verses I had learned finally penetrating my thick skull. Here I am all these years later leading music in a UMC congregation and reading InternetMonk.

    Moral: There’s enough post-evangelical wilderness to go around for everybody.

    • I can’t imagine being rebaptized into that world (we walked in the same circles mostly). It was bad enough being a second generation believer growing up there.

      I’ve gone through two extremely fundamentalist phases of my life, and am just now coming out of a third (but more evangelical and “free”, at least in regards to externals). I don’t want another one.

      Maybe that’s why I’m embracing the #none and #done position.

    • Regular Baptist is another name for Particular Baptist. This is as opposed to General Baptist who believe that:

      General Baptists are Baptists who hold the general or unlimited atonement view, the belief that Jesus Christ died for the entire world and not just for the chosen elect. General Baptists are theologically Arminian, which distinguishes them from Reformed Baptists (also known as “Particular Baptists” for their belief in particular redemption).

      • p.s. From wikipedia definition for General Baptist.

      • I think General Baptists are what used to be called (unofficially) Swedish Baptists. “Regular Baptists” and “Particular Baptists” are more like the “Strict Baptists” in the British Isles that Charles Spurgeon was a part of in the 19th century. I don’t know whether that group still exists under the same name.

        Thanks for the distinction, Michael Bell.

        I think Regular Baptists (GARBC) was one of the first groups to separate from the American Baptist Convention during the 1930s, followed soon afterward by the not-quite-as-conservative Conservative Baptists (Vernon Grounds, etc.).

        In the American South, there are what others used to call “Hardshell” Baptists, which probably include the Primitive Baptists (foot-washing crowd) and the Missionary Baptists (Caucasian type only). Next to them, the Southern Baptist Convention was always deemed quite liberal – at least until the fundie wars of a couple of decades back. Now the old SBC types are probably part of the present-day Co-operative Baptist Fellowhip. The new SBC seems to include semi-fundies in the smaller churches and “Bapti-costal” charismatics in the larger ones. This is just my personal observation and may bear no resemblance to the truth.

        • Christiane says:

          some SBC blogs I routinely follow have lately taken a sharp turn TOWARDS Islamophobia in more defined ways . . . is this happening in other branches of Baptists, or is the SBC fairly apart from the rest of Baptists ??

          I am concerned because some of the blogs and comments come from preachers, and they have great influence over their flocks, and this in turn affects the young people of those communities . . . I fear what will their impact be on their Islamic neighbors once this ‘toxicity’ is let loose to fester

          I can only imagine what our Islamic American school children will be dealing with IF our Christian people take up Islamophobia as ‘gospel truth’ and empower their children to have contempt for those of the Islamic faith. . . it is not a comfortable thought for me at all when I consider the plight of the young

      • I had some friends who belong to the denomination called “General Association of Regular Baptists,” who are not to be confused with the “Regular Association of General Baptists.”

  12. One of my more interesting experiences back in the 70’s was attending John Birch meetings while living at what would have been considered a hippie commune. Both groups would have widely been regarded as extreme but I did not think so at the time, nor in retrospect. The real extremists, left and right, were further back in the hills, the anarchists looking to bring society down, and the militias preparing for civil war. And in fact it was starting to look like civil war was inevitable as the Ted Kennedy led push for total societal control peaked and then fizzled, content to have established the blatantly named “Master Plans” we rural folk are still living under today.

    I got off the pendulum when I finally figured out that the extremes on the left/right continuum did not extend out in a straight line, they met to form a circle. And I learned to identify them by the reaction of fear in the pit of the stomach they thrive on, fear, and the other side of that coin, control. Sometimes in the name of humanity, sometimes in the name of God, always bent on making everyone else either like themselves or dead. Talk about the antichrist!

    • The real extremists

      There’s always another group that’s even worse. “Those are the bad ones! Their beliefs are silly. We’re not like them.”

      Yeah. Sure.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      And they have another thing in common:
      THEY HATE JEWS.
      Left-wing Political Crazy, Right-wing Political Crazy, the only thing they can agree upon is Get Rid Of The Jews.

      And a Fundamentalist of one wing can convert to the other, bringing all their Fundy attitudes over intact. Funhouse mirror reflections of each other like Josef Stalin and Ayn Rand, identical beneath their totally-opposite surfaces. Communism begets Objectivism.

      Sometimes in the name of humanity, sometimes in the name of God, always bent on making everyone else either like themselves or dead.

      But always in the name of The Righteous Cause.
      The Cause so Righteous it justifies anything whatsoever to bring it to Triumph.

      • And they have another thing in common:
        THEY HATE JEWS.

        You do know though that’s because the Bible is TRUE ™, God’s going to rapture the church, Zionism, we’re reestablishing the nation of Israel, we’ve got 70 years since the 60s before Jesus comes with a sword to establish a millennial kingdom, etc etc.

        Seriously. A single Jew is persecuted or in general there is anti-semitism? That’s all the proof many need to ironclad their theologies.

        Because look! It’s true. To believe otherwise is to deny truth and to be silly.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          You do know though that’s because the Bible is TRUE ™, God’s going to rapture the church, Zionism, we’re reestablishing the nation of Israel, we’ve got 70 years since the 60s before Jesus comes with a sword to establish a millennial kingdom, etc etc.

          Now you’re getting into MY “Chew the meat and spit out the bones” moment. Which turned out to be all bones and no meat. The damage is still there.

          However, I found Anti-Semitic attitudes in both the Extreme Left and Extreme Right.

    • I got off the pendulum when I finally figured out that the extremes on the left/right continuum did not extend out in a straight line, they met to form a circle.

      Last line of Animal Farm: “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

  13. Richard Beck had an interesting and similar post on his blog – Experimental Theology – a few days ago.

    We’ve all seen or heard of the “purity culture” within fundamentalist/evangelical culture. The same thing exists on the liberal and/or secular side of things. Whether environmentalist types or Ayn Randites.

    • ie, find the sin in your life/camp and get rid of it, and all problems are solved and you’ll enter into a glory age.

      it’s sad and amusing how many times that particular worm can show up in someone’s or a group’s thinking.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        ie, find the sin in your life/camp and get rid of it, and all problems are solved and you’ll enter into a glory age.

        The Ahnenerbe, Chairman Mao’s Red Guard, and Comrades Pol Pot and Kim Jong-un would agree.

        It’s the commonality for any ideological dictatorship that’s into filling mass graves.

        “Killing is the solution to everything. No more person, no more problem.”
        — Josef Stalin, dictator of Russia

  14. I suggest 2 books for a larger perspective: R. Hofstadter’s Anti-Intellectualism in American Life and E. Hoffer’s The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements. Both are a bit dated but still offer powerful descriptions of (largely secular) fundamentalism and its toxic effects.

  15. scrapiron says:

    I stumbled on a sermon by Greg Boyd last night that I really liked. It touches on this topic. Google “Don’t be a Butthead” if you want to find it. Don’t have a link handy and gotta run.

  16. Here’s another good one –

    https://defeatingthedragons.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/what-christian-fundamentalism-means-to-us/

    Really sort of shows how fundamentalism, the type that hinges on The Fundamentals, is more orthodox than orthodox, more conservative than conservative.

    In short, it brings the sword.

    hence the Sword of the Lord newletter, I guess.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Really sort of shows how fundamentalism, the type that hinges on The Fundamentals, is more orthodox than orthodox, more conservative than conservative.

      More Calvinist than Calvin, more Marxist than Marx, more Islamic than Mohammed…

  17. Interesting article Mike!

    30 years ago I left the Pentecostal church. At that time I consciously left fundamentalism as well. I remember doing a paper in university for a religious and moral development course where I processed the attitudes I saw. Not surprisingly I identified anti-intellectualism, a life-boat mentality (only us in this boat), sacred cow beliefs and absolute certainty of belief that permitted no doubt (I think those are the words I used).

    In 1990 I began to wonder if fundamentalism was a mindset and you could have fundamentalist Muslims and Jews as well as Christians. (keep in mind there were few Muslims in North America then)

    I went and lived in Saudi Arabia for 8 years and it confirmed my suspicion. I also added into the mix fundamentalist conservatives, liberals, communists etc.

    So my working theory became that it is a mindset that is modified by whatever cultural/political and religious environment a person grows up in.

    This article (and the one it refers to) hit me between the eyes and further confirms my suspicions.

    Interestingly enough another thing I see is the reformed smoker syndrome. Ex fundamentalists often seem as strong in their reactions against it as they were when they were for it.

    So we get fundamentalist ex-fundamentalists. The attitudes remain similar, just the content of belief changes.

    I see some of that here in the iMonastery.
    Can we move beyond that to something better?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Interestingly enough another thing I see is the reformed smoker syndrome. Ex fundamentalists often seem as strong in their reactions against it as they were when they were for it.

      Communism begets Objectivism.

      o we get fundamentalist ex-fundamentalists. The attitudes remain similar, just the content of belief changes.

      They stay Fundamentalist in attitude and behavior; they have just swapped out to a different One True Way.
      The One True Way doesn’t matter, as long as they can stay Fundamentalist about it.

      CHARLIE BROWN: “What do you want to be when you grow up, Linus?”
      LINUS: “A Fanatic.”
      CHARLIE BROWN: “Have you figured out what you want to be fanatical about?”
      LINUS: “No. I guess I’ll just be a Wishy-Washy Fanatic.”

  18. Since Catholic doctrine pi$$es off the left and right to equal measure, it confirms my faith! You can tell whether Pope Francis said something about right to life issues or the economy by who is calling him nasty names in any given week!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      When you’re taking fire from both sides, you’re probably on the right path.

      • Or you’re just so completely wrong that no one takes you seriously.

        • Stephen, when you have been taking fire for 2000+ years, reviled yet triumphant as promised by the Big Guy, having outlived empires and heretics, “completely wrong” is unlikely.

          And bigotry is unflattering to you, whatever faith you profess.

          • Buddhism is 500 years older than Christianity. Hinduism older than that. Is length of tradition really the criteria you wan to use to defend your position?

            And I’m not bigoted against anything except bad arguments.

          • Robert F says:

            Stephen, while I believe Pattie is right to say that it’s unlikely that an institution can survive over a long stretch of time and be completely wrong, I think you’re correct that cleaving to the middle ground is no guarantee of correctness.

            And if you have outlasted empires and heretics by become an empire yourself and persecuting heretics, then seriously wrong things have found their way in.

          • Stephen and Robert F – +1

            And there’s Judaism to consider as well, on that list of religions that are older than xtianity…

  19. Ahoy Monksters! Thank God for the real topics on this list. Where would we go otherwise? Several years ago PBS had a program called “Fundamentalisms.” I taped it, can’t find it, but do remember 3 of the fundamentaliisms involved; Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, all religious, quite interesting. A left leaning fundamentalism would be Communism. I have a video called “Seeing Red,” about members of the Party in the US. I had a friend who was writing a book about this, and thought he could use it, decided to keep it and then forgot about it. The dedicated members fit most of the criteria in the opening blog. When Stalin (as was discovered) slaughtered so many kulaks, most U.S. C.P. Members refused to believe it;when the facts became known many member left, others hung on because they could not relinquish their ideals even in face of the facts.

    • It is thought that Stalin was killed by members of his own inner circle who realized he was a stone psychopath willing to take the whole country down with him. Thus validating the quote by Ted above, “Killing is the solution to everything. No more person, no more problem.”

      • Rick Ro. says:

        This reminds me of the Burgess Meredith “Twilight Zone” episode where his book-loving character thought “No more people, no more problem.”

    • Re. Stalin, it was also the show trials, the many murders, both in and outside of Russia, the torture snd imprisonment, the gulags…and his textbook sociopathic behavior in general. I hcan see why that would have sent idealistic US Party members into a tailspin. Having been through something similar with an abusive church, i am all too familiar with the pain and cognitive dissonance that sets in when you find out that people you looked up to and trusted have done terribly bad things and feel no remorse or shame. Obviously, that’s not on the same scale as Stalin’s atrocities, but still…

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Re. Stalin, it was also the show trials, the many murders, both in and outside of Russia, the torture snd imprisonment, the gulags…and his textbook sociopathic behavior in general.

        You expect any different from a guy who started his career as A BANK ROBBER? A Street Thug?

        Like Baba Saddam (who started out as an organized crime enforcer), he was a Street Thug who thought like a Street Thug.

  20. When bringing up fundmentalism the discussion usually veers toward right wing extremeism.

  21. cheesehed says:

    I live in Wisconsin. We currently have the most divisive, tea-partyesque governor in our state’s history. Not even a close second! He’s radically different from previous Wisconsin Republican governors, like Tommy Thompson. Tommy created BadgerCare healthcare for low-income folks. It’s gone, along with a lot of other good things that occurred when both parties in Wisconsin were able to work together.

    They say there are very few of us who don’t either hate or love this guy.

    I’ve had to be careful along the way to remember that our governor is a Christian, and that he apparently believes in what his policies do.

    I’m vehemently opposed to nearly all of his positions. I’ve tried to separate belief from person — maybe that’s naive.

    But I think it’s kept me from getting too far gone on the other side.

    Thanks for this article, Pastor Mike

    • scrapiron says:

      I’m also a cheesehead, and I’d agree that Walker is not only the most divisive governor in our history, he’s is the most polarizing political figure I can remember in my 53 year lifetime. Everyone I know in WI either loves him or hates him. Neighbors and friends now no longer talk to each other and families are on the outs with each other because of this guy. It’s a bizarre thing to see what has happened to this midwestern nice state since 2010.

  22. OldProphet says:

    Oscar: Yes. When ever fundamentalism is discussed, it is usually a de-facto name for right wing extremism The question that has non been broached today is whether or not there is such a thing as Christian anti-fundamentalism which I would define as basically having no rules,extreme beliefs, or narrow dogma. I have read some comments today that would cause me to believe that it could be true.

  23. I still think right and left extremes are not points on an infinite line but points on a circle. If you go far enough to the left or right, you will arrive at the same place.

  24. Robert F says:

    I would give Jean Paul Sartre’s support of the Communist Party as an example of how Western intellectuals, while not actually becoming fundamentalists themselves, not infrequently have supported fundamentalist political philosophies. There is a tendency among intellectuals to embrace a kind of anti-intellectualism when they make commitments to causes beyond their own personal concerns. Rousseau, Brecht, Russell are names that come to mind.

    • I think that the unwavering and resilient faith in socialism among many intellectuals is the result of a particularly intractable anti-intellectual irrationalism, and has made them susceptible to the political fundamentalism of radical politics. The right has its own irrational faith in capitalism, but intellectualism is far less prevalent on the right; academia, the home of intellectuals, has far fewer conservatives than progressives.

    • OldProphet says:

      And that great intellectual, Jane Fonda, aka Hanoi Jane.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      A Cult doesn’t need to be based on a religion per se.

      Naziism and Communism were political cults. Naziism more in the sense of a single charismatic Cult Leader; if they hadn’t been destroyed when they were, I doubt Naziism would have survived the succession crisis. Communism at least was based around a general utopian idea (Marx turned apocalyptic prophet) external to the cult leaders or members, so they would have shown more staying power.
      Personality cult vs Utopian cult.
      Cult of Person vs Cult of Idea.