Thursday, February 02, 2006


There's a good piece on the genesis and meaning(s) of religious fundamentalism by Edward Farley in the always interesting journal CrossCurrents, some of which is maintained free online, though its a subscription journal.

[E]veryday religion itself is an incipient "fundamentalism," because of its tendencies to posit an identity between the holy and religion's historical mediations, it is, with the help of its leadership, ever ready to monitor, maintain, and re-establish its traditions. At the same time religion appears ever aware that its mediations, important as they are for its survival, are not its content, the very object of its faith. Stressed by the experience of a radically secularizing diaspora of religion, some religious leaders suppress religion's perennial awareness of the limitations and fallibilities of its mediations and this is what constitutes the fundamentalist response to the modern. The fundamentalist phenomenon, then, despite its constant appeals to God and its declared intent to be God's people, do what God wants, and believe what God believes is a kind of atheism in this respect. To the degree that the holy is suppressed or displaced, fundamentalism, paradoxically, is itself a sign of religion undergoing secularization. For if religion's finite mediations are the objects of faith, and if the sacramental presence of the holy is suppressed, religion is simply "about" the creed, the hierarchy, the book, the cosmology, the ritual, the casuistry, the sacralized nation-state.

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