I’m on a book-buying embargo right now. (Is that the right word? Moratorium? Hiatus? Oh dear. Words I only know from context but have never looked up.)
It comes from the realisation that books take longer to read than they do to buy.
It would take me about 10 years to read all the unread books I already have. I am a slow reader.
So, I’m working on only reading one fiction and one non-fiction book at a time, and I’m to read them to the end before starting another one. Even if my bedtime soul cries out to read it.
I know, harsh.
So, when I was out for coffee with my Dad and his wife the other day and he mentioned he was reading a Karen Armstrong book, I was able to resist the temptation to go out and buy it RIGHT NOW, because I am now a mature bookbuyer who knows how many books he has at home.
I’ve been meaning to read Karen’s books for a while – I pick them up every time I’m in an airport bookshop (which is basically the only time I get to be in a bookshop now I live in a tiny market town) but have never actually done so. She writes about the history of religion and seems to be quite level-headed.
All of this to say, I haven’t read the book I’m referring to, I’ve only heard my Dad talk about it. So, you know, apologies, potentially.
Anyway… Evidently, Karen has this idea that fundamentalism isn’t a pre-existing condition, but is rather a reaction to a feeling.
Fundamentalism is what happens when we feel our worldview is being seriously threatened.
We tend to talk about ‘fundamentalists’ as if they were a breed. (Remember the danger of labels from last week?) I wonder if it helps to see that people become fundamentalist about things when they are seriously scared about their way of life.
I don’t just mean religious fundamentalism here. People are fundamentalist about politics (party or otherwise), the environment, caffeine or not caffeine, smacking kids, project management philosophy (pro- or anti-Agile, anyone?), diet, gym routines (weight-bearing or cardio?)…
We look to something as a threat and/or we see something as the salvation.
I’ve seen a bit of fundamentalism from people in my Twitter stream this week.
It worries me more than a little.
Fundamentalism (‘right-wing’ or ‘liberal’) won’t be argued with.
Fundamentalism is closed.
Fundamentalism looks for tribes of agreement.
I wonder if, when we feel ourselves moving into more extreme, more entrenched, more polar views if it might be a good thing to sit still for a second and feel the fear or the anger, the rage, underneath.
Expressing fury can be powerful.
Attacking people who attack you because your views are different because their views are different… just means there’s more attack in the world.
And I certainly certainly don’t mean ‘let’s all be calm and get along’ or ‘let’s just ignore it’.
I do wonder about not adding to the sum total of attack in the world.
I suppose I mean how about expressing our fury and terror without falling into the mind-trick of making someone ‘evil’.
Or at least take two breaths to feel what’s underneath.
Fundamentalism isn’t evil, it’s human. It’s going to be in how you deal with your own fundamentalism that makes the difference.
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