ON FEAR & FUNDAMENTALISM

LATE AFTERNOON conversation today with a small group whose lives have been marred, in different ways, by religious fundamentalism and the fear that has ensued, in one person especially, for many years. Did I know of any books or other resource material that touched upon these issues – fundamentalism and fear? And this interview with Brother David and Rabbi Jonathan Ober-Man was the first thing that sprang readily to mind.

Almost all I’ve ever read or heard of Brother David speaks of a need for growth in the spiritual life, a “growing up”, a gently guided passing through phases of religious experience. And this guidance comes for some, I would suggest, in the monastic or parish-based contexts, but can be every bit as useful when its provision arises out of ordinary everyday living, in family-life and in friendship. Certainly my family life, friendships and parish life have constantly nudged me towards growth, towards not resting too heavily upon what I have believed is “known” or “certain”.

The “doctrine of provisionality” – I know something now but I look to the possibility that I will somehow, someday know better – lends itself to keeping doors open, to maintaining openness and friendship. I’m growing up. I’ve learned that former certainties needed to be challenged, and that time has changed my perspective on all sorts of things. And everyone who’s growing up still has some learning to do. And fear is never a good environment for quality learning experiences. May we be guided gently. And may we take seriously the responsibility laid upon every human(e) person gently to guide others, even as we ourselves are guided.