I received an email this morning from my nephew in Wales. (for background: he grew up in a fairly fundamental Christian home and has broadened some of his opinions as a result of travel, life experience, education, etc.) Here is what he had to say:
"A documentary prompted me to go online and find out more information about the validity of the belief in Revelation and the Rapture/Apocalypse/Tribulation, etc...
This documentary was so well researched and convincingly backed that I really bought into it. I then looked into it today on the internet to make sure it was not all just a big bias, and now more than ever I feel that those End-Timers who buy into this doomsday theory are not only incredibly misled, but very very dangerous.
Their influence on the White House and its foreign policy is why there is so much unrest in the Middle East and why AIDS in Africa may never be subdued. As long as their influence carries on in the running of America the enormous problems across the globe from civil injustice to global warming will never be cured.
Furthermore, they are not only refusing to aid in furthering peace and protecting our environment, they are hastening the negative outcome of both as they think that the quicker global warming takes effect and the sooner all-out war breaks out, the sooner they will be magically zapped to heaven and the rest of the world who do not buy into the closed, literal interpretation of a specific translation of the book of Revelation, will be left on the earth to endure the worst tribulation the world has ever known.
I'm hoping that the current attitude we are experiencing is directly linked to the ignorant, mildly insane man we have running the country and that it is not too much more deep-seated than his administration. If that is the case, our next president may bring some hope.
I am a Christian, though I feel my personal faith is entirely irrelevant to this global problem we are facing with Christian Extremists with their concentrated voice in America. Please go to http://www.channel4.com/culture/microsites/C/can_you_believe_it/debates/doomsday.html for more information on this."
So, naturally, I went there. There is some extremely interesting reading in several places on that site. This is their home page. They are a station for Public Broadcast - a not-for-profit; I like that.
Here's a good article on The Fundamentalists (seems every religion has them, and they may have begun with American Christians). This article mentions that there are also militant & violent Bhuddists - not something that delights me, but not unexpected either. There is a very concise religion TimeLine here.
This should be great material for discussion.
This is fundamentalism as defined by The Free Dictionary: "A usually religious movement or point of view characterized by a return to fundamental principles, by rigid adherence to those principles, and often by intolerance of other views and opposition to secularism." Meaning #2 attributes its origination to American Evangelicals at the turn of the 19th century.
Words like 'organized', 'militant', 'rigid', 'intolerance', & the phrase, 'insisting on the inerrancy of Scripture' are aspects of this point of view that I find very scary. They speak to me of closed minds, and worse yet - closed hearts. Instead of saying something like, "this is the truth FOR ME and it brings me hope and peace - would you like to hear about it?", they say things like 'This is THE TRUTH and you will believe it or you will die, and if I have to, I'll kill you with my own hands."
I think it is this that Alan was speaking about in his email (above). Many fundamentalists in our country are indeed organized and militant and they have the ear of our President. This is scary to me. Lots of things about religion and politics in today's world are scary to me. The MOST scary is that place where religion and politics become mixed, as they are now.
Now - more than ever, perhaps - it's time to open our eyes and pay attention. Or maybe I should say 'now or never' because one of these days we may not have a choice.