Thoughts on Fundamentalism (Part 2)

There is a cool book (The Question of God) where the author uses writings from Freud and Lewis to stage a debate between the two men. Freud was a proponent of the idea that all religion is neurotic in orientation. I tend to agree. However, Christianity as taught by Jesus is not religion. Fundamentalism, on the other hand, is religion at its ugliest, IMHO. As a “coping mechanism,” religion is ineffective and does anything but help people cope with life. Instead, religion becomes a conduit of or means of manifesting pathology. Mad men have hidden behind religious bullshi* for millenia.

In freudian language, fundamentalists have an overfunctioning superego. In their gnostic worldview, anything human (the id, if you will) is bad, so they interpret “mortify your body” as Biblical support that they have to either extinguish any natural human urges or desires or simply enter perpetual denial that such “evil” even exists. And they interpret “self-denial” as an imperative to self “negate.” Self denial is fine (a function of the ego). However, self negation essentially says, “I don’t exist, and my identity as a separate person does not exist.” Of course, if something does not exist, it can’t be managed well. That’s how, imho, so much nastiness happens in fundamentalism (particularly sexual nastiness). They pretend that the primal urges of their hunanity simply are not, so they don’t even try to address them. So, in the absence of someone being honest about who they are and what is going on in the depths of their human experience and taking active responsibility for that, those urges go unmonitored, unchecked, and from time to time emerge in the most destructive manner. Don’t know if that made any sense.  I realize I’m rambling a bit.

So, one of the first goals for me in doing therapy with folks is to convince them to acknowledge and accept *every* aspect of their humanity and to receive God’s uncondtional grace for every part of whom they are. It’s the practical living of “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” They feel that if they acknowledge the “unacceptable” parts of themselves, they will be condemned. So they have to lock away huge parts of their individual identities and essential components of their humanity. That’s why most fundies have such an identity crisis–they have refused to give themselves permission to be who they are. But because no one can simply lock away a part of themselves and forget about it, they live in constant shame because they *know* there is a part of themselves that has been hidden from scrutiny by self, God, and/or others, and they are mortified to ever discover what may be in that part of themselves that they try to negate. That’s where the control piece comes in…. The part of them that they have locked away poses so much danger to them and their fragile existence that they will do whatever it takes to keep that danger at bay. To relax control is to risk giving up their entire view of self, others, and the world. I don’t see the fundy world view as primarily malicious in orientation but mostly fear-based. The wrongs that they do to others are secondary to fear. It is collateral damage that happens as they attempt to self-protect.

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