Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Faith, Rigidity and Recklessness

Darling Mr. Sullivan shares Pretty Lady's tendency to reckless blogging:
I think what Obama probably meant by it is a certain kind of religion, a neurotic, rigid variety that is often - but not always - part of the fundamentalist psyche. Many atheists and fundamentalists believe that there is only one valid form of religion: fundamentalism. And so you can see why they would intrepret Obama's off-hand remark the way they have - as a denigration of all faith. But those of us in grayer areas and those of us who believe Obama's own protestations of faith see something more complicated. What we see - and what history has sometimes shown - is that economic, political and cultural frustration can indeed be expressed by the rise a certain kind of religious belief. And that correlation - between the disorienting transitions of globalization and the rise of religious fundamentalism - is real (see The Conservative Soul). When the world disappoints or disorients, the appeal of a more absolute and unquestioning faith as a rock in a storm is powerful. The key factors are not just economic stagnation but cultural loss and a lack of faith in the responsiveness of the relevant political institutions.

I certainly find it hard to understand the rise of Islamism without understanding the abject political and economic failure of many Arab states to respond to the genuine desires and needs of their citizens. In fact, I thought this link between the bitterness created by unrepresentative political institutions, economic failure and Islamism was a core feature of neoconservative thought.

Pretty Lady herself has always been torn upon the issue of Rigidity in Religion. On the one hand, she sees a rigid adherence to the superficial forms of one's faith, coupled with aggressive evangelism, to be one of the primary offending factors of religious zealotry. In Pretty Lady's life, her faith is her most central, private, and deeply personal element of self, as well as the means through which she connects with others; therefore, those who ambush her with religious conversation and then proceed to flog her with a fundamentalist stick are engaging in the most egregious violation of her boundaries possible. To say nothing of those rude suicide bombers.

On the other hand, however, persons who are swamped in chaos, moral or otherwise, need an exceptionally strong stick to grasp, in order to anchor themselves. Thus as much as she deplores the more aggressive elements of fundamentalism, the essential certitude it offers to distressed minds may provide an invaluable and irreplaceable element of spiritual guidance. Far be it for her to deny suffering persons their major source of comfort.

This is why Pretty Lady subscribes to M. Scott Peck's notion that we are not all in the same place, spiritually. This would appear to be a no-brainer, but it seems to her that a great number of conflicts, both personal and global, are predicated upon a wilful denial of this obvious fact. In Pretty Lady's view, it is perfectly possible to ground one's faith in an absolute truth without imposing control upon others; the very term 'grounding' implies that faith is a vertical construct, not necessarily a lateral one. Therefore the fact that one's neighbor does not believe the same things, in the same way, as oneself, provides no obstacle whatsoever to loving them.


Wollf Howlsatmoon said...

"that faith is a vertical construct, not necessarily a lateral one.".....or possibly should never be a lateral?

Interesting, and a much more intellectually written, example of my "Faith", or lack thereof.

The Woman that I care most deeply for is a Jew. She cares for me also, quite deeply.

Unfortunately, there is a "lateral" divide, in that I have in the past described myself as "christian", not understanding her cultural perspective.

I was raised a Catholic, and have since lapsed. So...the "christian" definition is a loose one. Raised, and practising are two completey different things...

Just as Obama in his ignorance, made the quoted remark, "typical white person", and was castigated for it, all People who classify by a few words should be also.

The point....sorry, ADD here,..is that the "Vertical" is a beautiful "explanation" of my Faith.

I believe in one G-d. I don't care a rats what you believe, so long as you don't try to change my inner belief, or pronounce that you wish to injure me or mine....

I'll hush now. Time for me to write a bit, and I have to put on my ritalin patch to do so....

Sorry to ramble on your comments, but you are good, and you touched a nerve.

Nice to meet you Brooklyn.

Pretty Lady said...

Nice to meet you too, Wollf! I always appreciate people who are brave enough to comment on my more esoteric posts...